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The Man’s To-Be List

Episode #620

What is happiness for you?

Do you make time to do what you truly love?

Engaged indifference means loving what you do and living your best life because you can’t support others if you don’t love yourself.

In this episode, Doug and Andy discuss why you’re not responsible for other people’s happiness and what you can do to make yourself your number one priority.

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Doug:  Hey, guys, welcome back, and thank you for joining us. As you can see if you’re watching this on video, but if you’re listening, I have the amazing man himself, the powerful man himself, coach Andy. Thanks for being here, brother.

Andy:  Doug, it’s great to be here. I love the podcast, I listen to it a lot, and I’m just happy to sit and chop it up with you for a little while.

Doug:  Yeah, me too. I mean, you guys listening, you’re in for a treat. Andy is one of our master coaches. If you decide to go through the AM, and maybe back into the Brotherhood, and he’s one of the amazing coaches you may have the opportunity of working with. It’s just an honor of mine to work with you, and to guide men around the world on their journey. So, thanks again, Andy, for all that you do.

Andy: Oh, I feel the same way, Doug. Thank you.

Doug:   So, you had an interesting topic you threw to the table, as I say, coming through here. It was something about the man’s to-do list. Can you describe that a little bit?

Andy:  Yeah, you know, this comes from a conversation I had with a friend of mine who is a high school teacher a few years ago, and she gave her grade nine kids an assignment to write a vision for their future. So, these kids were like 14 years old. And they came back with the assignment, and as she was going through them, she realized that almost without exception, all of the little girls had written a vision for their future that was full of fun, and excitement, and adventure, and travel, and all kinds of just like real blue sky stuff. And almost without exception, the little boys had written about a future that was like, I’m going to get this job, and I’m going to get this house, and I’m going to get this spouse, and I’m going to drive this car. And it’s almost like, you know, when we’re very young, as little boys, we get handed this to-do list, right?

Like, if you want to be accepted as a man, if you want to be, welcomed into the community of manhood and be to be taken seriously as an adult, then you need to go and get an education, and get a career, and get a house, and get a car, and find someone to settle down with, and have kids if you want to. And it’s like we go through the early part of our adult lives ticking these boxes. And the thing about that is, it’s pretty straightforward to do all of that stuff. A lot of guys have ticked all of those boxes by the time they’re in their mid to late 30s. And so you get this real… this thing that happens to a lot of guys, which is, they get their to-do lists done, and they realize that the next thing on the list is ‘retire’.

And these guys are like 35-40 years old, and they’re like, now what? like, what do I do for the next 30 years? Because I’m not ready to retire, obviously. And so we get into what I call the to-don’t list, Doug. Don’t run out of money, don’t screw up your career, don’t tank your business, don’t screw up your marriage, don’t screw up your kids. And a lot of guys get into this real kind of protective mode, where it’s almost like they circle the wagons and they just spend so much time trying to protect the house that they’ve built from falling apart. And I feel like there’s there’s a lot of opportunity to help guys to really get into that frame of mind that my friend’s English test, the little girls, you know, were all vision, and blue sky, and what can I create, nd what can I have? And just an opportunity to remind guys that it’s really not about the to-do list. And it’s definitely not about the to-don’t list. It’s more about the to-be list. What kind of man do I want to be, so that I can have this life that involves the right amount of money, and the right car, and the right stuff. But those are results of being the person that you are, and not necessarily just going out and trying to collect all the things.

Doug: I love it man, there’s so much to unpack there. You know, we talk a lot at TPM about a couple of things that you mentioned, of course, but one is how these boys are living from the outside in. In other words, they’re looking at these achievements, that that’s going to bring them joy, fulfillment, acceptance, as you said, into this world of manhood, and they still quest for that. And as men, as we collect that over time, I think what often happens as you talk to guys, they have achieved these goals with this promise of feeling this fulfillment that doesn’t happen, and then they look around – it usually happens to guys when they’re in their late 30s or 40s, and they go, ‘wait a minute, where is everybody? I’ve sacrificed all of these things that I want, my relationship with my wife, my kids perhaps, and yet for what? For what outcome?’ And the girls in this are doing just what we teach, living from the inside out. And that gives you the actual natural fulfilment not later, but today.

Andy: Yeah, yeah. 100%. And there’s so many guys who I talk to, and I said, you know, what is the result that you want out of working together? And so many guys just say, ‘I just want to be happy.’ They got all the stuff, they got all the toys and the money and things, but they’re miserable. And I say, what does happiness look like for you? And they’ve never really sat and thought about what that looks like for them, outside of that accumulation game that they’ve been playing for their adult life.

Doug:  Yeah. I mean, who asked the question, right? How many people come up to you and say, ‘hey, Andy, what does happiness look like to you?’ People will say success, maybe, right? That’s become a little bit cliche in our times. But what does happiness really mean? And how do you define it? And as men, we don’t talk about it. We don’t talk about this openly. It’s stiff upper lip, put your head down, get your shit done. What happens for a lot of our guys, as you know, these guys are so used to taking on so much that they have this mental focus of like, ‘you got a problem? Alright, just give me your problem. I’ll take care of it, I’ll handle it.’ And it’s this almost martyr syndrome, where they’re going to be there and they’re going to self-sacrifice for other people, and save other people. And there’s this little bit of what we call a covert contract that’s there. Right? When I help you, and I save you – because I’m the man of course, right? Because I can do all these things – then you’re gonna love me, adore me when I need you. Right? You’re gonna fill me up and praise me, and therefore give me a reflection back on the kind of man I am. And when that doesn’t meet or equate, guys feel lost.

Andy: Yeah, absolutely. And I think that that really touches on a theme that I feel is very important. Maybe we can talk about it here. It’s this idea of sovereignty. You know, you talk about living like a king. And I suppose if you think about that, you might think about living in luxury, or having absolute power, or having a lot of money and servants, or whatever that may look like. But the thing that makes a king a king is sovereignty, right? That idea that he wields full power, full executive power over himself and takes full accountability. Because literally, the buck stops with the king.

There’s no one else that the king can blame. So, if you acquire that idea of sovereignty, and you sort of say, listen, there’s nobody coming to save me, there’s nobody that I can blame for any of my shortcomings. I’m going to take full ownership, I’m going to take all of the decisions, and I’m going to take full responsibility for my happiness, my fulfillment, my significance. When you make that declaration to yourself, that’s a game changer. Because every decision that you make from that place of internal authority, first of all, it prioritizes your own wellbeing. The king can’t rule over the kingdom if the king doesn’t take care of the king, right? And so, you’re prioritizing your own well being, your own highest and best interests. And then, like you’re filling up a bucket, everything that overflows from the bucket is just an expression outwards into relationships, into career, into children, all of that kind of stuff.

Doug: You know, obviously, you’re preaching to the choir here, but I can play devil’s advocate, because I can hear some guys right now, riding their car, going for a run or a walk while listening to this and go, ‘yeah, I hear that, Andy, but you know, my wife’s crazy, and she’s the one that needs to do the work and change, not me.’ What would you say to that guy?

Andy: So, this is where we get into this idea that we talk about in the program a lot called engaged indifference, right? And engaged indifference is this attitude of being present, being available to the people around you, and at the same time, having your sovereignty in place so that you have your internal support, and that nothing can really knock you off of that, knock you off balance from there. So, yeah, our wives generally have their own issues to go through, right? They’ve had their own lives. If we’re lucky, we were with somebody who is doing her work, and she knows what she gets to work on, and we know what we get to work on. You’re both doing your work together and independently. I think a lot of guys put too much stock on, ‘well, she’s not doing her work, and that’s affecting me.’ That’s not practicing engaged indifference. Engaged indifference really stepping into this idea of, I know where I’m going, I have a vision for what I’m doing, I have this degree of sovereignty, and there’s really nothing that she can say or do that’s going to knock me off balance. Within reason, of course.

Doug: Yeah. Which is so interesting. So, as you know, we have the AM, and what we do, for the listeners, we have what we call a pack call, or office hours, where the AM groups get together for one call. And Andy, I was talking to the guys about engaged indifference. And when I was telling them about this idea of this engaged indifference as it relates to sovereignty, is to think about it this way: if you’re in a store or something, and somebody says something to you that you’ve never met, knows nothing about you, odds are you let it roll off your back, and you’re kind of like, that guy’s crazy, who cares? Or that woman’s crazy, who cares? The difference is, when your wife says it about you, it triggers you, it makes you upset. And the reason is that a lot of men – Andy, I’ve been in this place.

We put so much stock in what our partner thinks of us as our identity, that any disruption in that identity causes us this upset or triggers us. And we go into DEER mode – we defend, excuse, explain and react. And that is really what happens. And so, with engaged indifference, the key here is just coming in and thinking of the conversation, whether it be with your wife or anybody else, as just a conversation, not about you, not a personal attack. And like you said, you’re engaged, get indifferent at the outcome, or indifferent of what that person’s reaction is going to be.

Andy: Yeah, and it’s a practice. It’s not a one-and-done. You know, sometimes you really got to grind through the engaged indifference, and you got to practice your deep breathing, and all of the little tools and tricks that we teach to help guys keep cool, and not get knocked off balance. Engage indifference, it’s an attitude, isn’t it? It’s like, okay, I’m living my best life right now, and I’m going to do my best to support the people around me. And I’m also not responsible for my wife’s moods. I say this to my guys all the time in the program: Your wife is a grown-ass woman. She is responsible for her emotions, and she can manage it. You do not need to take responsibility for making sure that she is okay. Right? Which sort of buys into this ‘happy wife, happy life’ kind of myth that we try to deconstruct.

Doug: Oh, it’s so true. And how many times, as guys, we want to solve the problem, right? Especially as entrepreneurs, we’re problem solvers. And so, our wife will come to us – we teach a thing called collecting the berries, you guys can listen to a podcast about that before – but your wife comes to you, and she presents problems, or she’s moody, or whatever else it may be, it is not your responsibility, nor does she want you to fix it. And that’s what we miss, a lot of guys. I still struggle with this. Still a work in progress. Because my reflexive nature, Andy, is to solve things, you got a problem? Cool, here’s the solution, let me help you with that. It’s just reflexive.

So, we need to take a step back, and take control of ourselves. And wrapping this back into the subject of the podcast, of this man’s to-do list, this also applies. Because your wife might be asking you to do a bunch of things, honey dues around the house, whereas maybe you wanted to go mountain bike riding. And that’s been in the plans, you’ve communicated that to your wife, you have an agreement, and she springs on a bunch of things to do around the house. And practicing engaged indifference, listening to her, taking it in, being indifferent, calculating, and then making a choice that serves you to your highest level, is how you become the king of your kingdom.

Andy: Yeah, absolutely. So, you get to prioritize yourself, and you also get to validate your wife’s requests, right? If she has something that’s important to her, and she is coming and saying, ‘hey, honey, you know, can you do this?’ You don’t have to drop everything and immediately begin serving her, you can say, yeah, great. I recognize that that’s important. I’ll get it done. I’ll handle it. And I’m going to slot it into these other things that I have planned for the day, right? And that’s like a little test. She knows that she can’t throw a little thing at you and knock you off course and have you go- and all of a sudden you’re catering to what her needs are, and you’ve given up everything that you had planned for your day. Instead, you’re sticking to your path, you’re staying in your sovereignty. Yeah, I can serve you, and I’m also going to make sure that that fits in with the vision that I had for the day, or the goals that I had for the day.

Doug:  Yeah, I got a perfect example that just happened to me yesterday, Andy. So, I like to go to the gym, and on my way to the gym, my wife said, ‘hey, can you run downstairs and grab this for me?’ Now, what she needed was a credit card to go on a family vacation, and she wanted to book the card before the places went out. Perfectly reasonable. And my response was, no, I can’t do that for you. However, when I get home, when I’m done with the gym, and after I’ve showered, I’d be happy to do it and take that away from you, take that off your plate and help you out. Now, my wife was completely satisfied with that.

Now, the old Doug, Doug 1.0 as I call him, the nice guy, would have gone downstairs, got the credit card went up, missed half of my workout- probably missed my whole workout because I wouldn’t have had enough time to finish it. Sounds like a small thing, but I had to jump through some hoops to get this particular card. And I would have missed it all, and then a little bit of resentment would have built up. But also, my wife would have lost a little bit of respect. Right? She knows I go to the gym at that time. And this is probably a little conscious or subconscious, a test of sorts. And as men, we get thrown those all the time. And we look at the man’s to-do list as we were talking about – you’re in ‘Do Mode’ so much that it’s easy to fall into that over and over again. And most guys go through this whole idea if ‘do-have-be’. If I do that thing, then I get whatever it is. So, if I work 70 hours a week, then I get the house, then I can be happy, right? But I have to first work 70 hours a week, then I have to get the house, the mortgage and everything else, then I can be happy. At TPM, we take that man’s to-do list, we flip it on its head, we say no, First you get to be happy – be. Then you get to do the work required, then you get the end result. So, be-do-have is actually the real formula here at work.

Andy: Yeah. The man’s to-do list and the significance that comes with having ticked all of those boxes is really a product of who you get to be as a man. And I think if we spend more time developing our inner character, and surrounding ourselves with high-quality men the way that we do in this movement, then we have the essential foundations for which we can have the house, and have the family, and have the car, and have the business, and have all of that stuff be sustainable, instead of getting into this period in mid-life where so many guys just spend decades firefighting, because they’re afraid of everything that they’ve built falling apart, because they’re sort of an empty shell inside.

Doug:  Yeah, they’re playing not to lose rather than playing to win.

Andy:  Beautiful. I love the way you said that.

Doug:   Well, it’s a big difference. In our 20s, weren’t we all playing to win? In our 20s, we’re playing to win. We have all the hope, the testosterone and all those other things going on in our lives. But as we age, for some reason, as you said, we start playing not to lose. It’s that scarcity mindset that comes in. And that also creates a needy energy oftentimes in our relationships. And that needy energy is like repulsion to your partner. It repels her, and repels your friends too. Nobody wants to hear about that.

Andy: Yeah, truly is. The example that comes to mind is like you’re in a cycling race. You’re going for it, you know where the finish line is, and you’ve done all the work, and you’ve done all the preparation, and then all of a sudden there’s a damsel in distress over here, and you make an abrupt left turn, and you give up on the race, and you give up on the destination because you’re so determined to save the damsel in distress. And that’s sort of a metaphor for the way that so many of us comport ourselves in our marriage. We take our eye off the long-term ball, we take our eye off these goals and these visions that we’ve had, and we make everything about making the wife happy, or being the family man. And that puts us in that needy, needy place. And I think it’s really off-putting for a partner to watch that transformation take place. hang on, you were going over here, and I was going to come with you. And now we’re stuck over here in left field and you’re just riding in circles around me, right? It’s not sexy.

Doug:  No, it’s not at all. And guys, let me know if this resonates with you. And I’ve had this story. ‘I feel like just a paycheck. Maybe they’d be better off if I wasn’t around.’ Whether it be a permanent exit from this world, or you’re just parting ways, right? And a lot of these types of comments- Here’s another one that I hear a lot: ‘I can be laying six inches from my wife, but I feel six miles apart.’ And this is a result of this outside-in living, with these nine-year-old boys who are already being ingrained in it. Look, guys, it’s not your fault. The truth is, society has put this on us as men, that we have to be these doers. We have to go into the coal mine, and work, and come out, shut up, bite your tongue and just be happy that you’re there. Provide for your family, and don’t worry about yourself.

And unfortunately, that is a real big reason why suicide – most people will talk about this – is the number two cause of death for men our age. That’s in the UK and the United States, as well as Canada. And I’m sure it is in other geographies. Those are just the ones that I’ve actually researched. The number one causes accidental death, which I’m going to guess, Andy, a lot of those are suicides that they’re covering up for insurance reasons, to give the family a better chance. And when you look at that, when you think about that – the number two cause. You hear about heart disease and all of these other causes of death for men our age. This is for boys, 14, to men in their 50s. Suicide is not talked about, because men are so busy chasing this man to-do list that’s never ending. I don’t know about you. My to-do list seems to self-populate while I sleep. No matter how hard I work on it, no matter how much coffee I decide to have, or whatever else it is, it never ends. However, when I do my ARS, and I start with the idea of being TPM, everything else seems to fall in place.

Andy: Yeah, absolutely. And I definitely resonate with what you were saying about male suicide. It’s a huge problem that is not being talked about enough. And I know it’s one of the main drivers for what we do here at TPM. And personally, I’ve been in that dark despairing place before, and I was able to get myself out because I had amazing support. And it’s a big motivator for me to continue doing the work that I do, to be able to reach out and be a bright light for guys who are experiencing darkness.

Doug:  Thank you for sharing. And it’s something guys just don’t talk about. It’s a taboo, we’re not supposed to say it. I’ve had the fortune of coaching men for such a long time, that once men get to know you, we’ve had groups of men together- and these are guys that are leaders in their church, leaders in their business, leaders in the community, family men, you know, the atypical guy walking down the street, who’s running your hometown. You guys listening to this podcast, we’ll have them sitting around, and when we get into a deep conversation, where everybody’s just being real and raw, how many of you guys have actually either attempted or thought it out in such a methodical way that you were just, ooh, one instance away from suicide? And I would say, Andy, 80% of the guys. 80% of the guys admit, yeah, at one time or another, or some of them multiple times, that has been an occurrence, because they haven’t focused on happiness, they haven’t focused on what they need. They’ve been so busy trying to keep their wife happy, thinking that, hey, if I make my wife happy, then I’ll be happy. And you and I both know, that’s a recipe for disaster.

Andy: Yeah, you cannot take responsibility for another person’s happiness. You can’t make your wife happy, you can’t make your kids happy, can’t make your boss happy. Happiness is a choice. My guys, when they come into the program, I talk to them about this ‘happy wife happy life’ idea. Because I subscribed to that for years, Doug, And it was one of the things that torpedoed my marriage. I thought, okay, I’ll put my wife on a pedestal and I’ll do everything for her, and she’s going to love that. Well, it turns out that she didn’t. It’s actually not ‘happy wife, happy life’, it’s the other way around. If you can create a happy life for yourself, and if you can find a way to be happy and create the circumstances for your own happiness, then your wife will very likely be happy as a result of that, because she doesn’t have to babysit you, and because you don’t need her, and she can just come along for the ride.

Doug: It’s exactly what it is. And think about this, guys: right now, you’re gonna go out, you’re gonna get a pint, you’re gonna get a beer, you’re gonna get a cup of coffee or whatever with a friend. You’re either gonna go out with your friend who’s gregarious, having a great time, loving life is the light to the party, and you’re going to sit with him. Or, you’re going out with your friend who’s like Eeyore, always depressed, sad, always complaining, yet not doing anything about it. He’s in that victim mode. Now, I know you guys are going to be there for both of these guys. But you have a choice, which guy are you going to hang out with? Obviously, the answer is you’re going to go with a guy you’re gonna have a lot of fun with. Your wife is no different. And something that I always say is, if your wife wanted someone to do everything that they said, they would have gotten a dog. They would have gotten a dog.

They want somebody who’s going to lead. And she’s going to test you. She’s going to do a series of fitness tests or shit test, depending on what you want to call it, to make sure you’re still resolute to do that. Can you still hold up to her pressure? Because if you can’t stand up to your wife and her energy – and I’m not saying you stand up to her in some kind of machismo way and be a jerk, that’s not what I’m saying at all. But if you can’t stand up to her and stand in your own power, then how are you going to defend her? How are you going to protect her against somebody else? A stronger man, let alone a stronger woman. And so that causes women to retract, to get scared. They must take the masculine role. And now you have an issue with polarity, which is a whole other subject. I know we could dive deep into that, but this is where it creates a bunch of stuff. And it starts with what Andy shared earlier, it’s this to-do list, this idea that we have to do all of these things in order to feel a way, to be happy, to feel successful, to feel significant. And those things, ironically, they erode when we chase them.

Andy: Yeah. 100%.

Doug: So, Andy, when you think about it, because you’ve had the opportunity of working with so many men through the TPM movement, for a guy listening to this that’s resonating with what we’re talking about here, this to-do list. He’s like, wow, I’m really focused on business, work, marriage, not working out the way I want to, maybe not connected to the kids – what are one or two things that he can do right now to take some action?

Andy:  So I would say, every time that I’ve ever felt overwhelmed by my life, it’s usually because I’m prioritizing other people’s urgencies or other people’s needs over my own. So, the approach that I personally like to take is this idea that you can’t give what you don’t have, right? You can’t lead other people if you can’t lead yourself. You can’t love your wife well if you don’t love yourself. So there’s a real practice of not being selfish, but being self-full. And by allowing yourself little moments throughout your workday, or little pockets of time throughout your week where you just get to be your own number one priority, and you get to do things that you know are constructive and healthy for you. Whether that is making your workout time non-negotiable, or we talk about about ARS and AD a lot in the AM, these routines that help us to own our day, and stay in our inner sovereignty, if you will, Doug, creating those little non-negotiable pockets of me time every single day allows me to remind myself that that I’m my own number one priority, and I’m the prize. And if I take care of myself, then I can more capably serve all of the people around me who need me. And if I ignore myself and I run myself into the ground, then everything else becomes unraveled, and things just kind of go up in flames as a result. So everything begins and ends with how we treat ourselves, and how we prioritize ourselves, even in the little things.

Doug: I love it. And guys, if you’ve been listening this for a while, you’ve heard me say this before, show me your calendar, and I’ll show you your priorities. If you don’t have yourself calendared out, you don’t have your ARS on your calendar, you’re telling me you’re not a priority. You don’t have your decompression on your calendar, you’re telling me you’re not a priority. And by telling Andy and I right now that you’re not a priority, I’m going to tell you that your marriage isn’t a priority. Because we have a proven methodology. It’s worked for thousands of men. Not just one, not just two – thousands of consistently. And we’re telling you right now exactly what needs to be done here.

Andy:  We are literally giving guys the keys to the kingdom. And really, all it comes down to is, you know, marrying that process, and just stepping into following the breadcrumbs that we lay out through the AM. And the transformations are remarkable. From week to week, guys show up looking different from week to week when they come on the calls.

Doug: It’s absolutely amazing. Andy, thank you so much for the work you’ve done. You’ve literally transformed the lives of hundreds of men, if not thousands, through the movement and all that you do, and just the representation of the man that you are and how you show up. I can’t wait to see you in person,to lead an AR with you. I’m giddy like a little kid, excited to have some fun as well. So again, man, thank you for all you do. Thank you for being here and sharing your wisdom.

Andy: I appreciate it. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to come on with you today. And yeah, it’s just an absolute joy to be able to serve these men, and help them transform their lives.

Doug:  Awesome. Gentlemen, as we always say, in the moment of insight, take massive action. Listen to the points that Andy gave you and do something about it. Don’t just go from podcast to podcast, actually take action. We’ll see you next time on the TPM show.