Six Tips to Step Up Your Game and Evolve

The Personal Evolution

Before I launched my website, it took me a good while to come up with a title. I went through several names, and it finally hit me “Evolved Man”. A term I learned from dating guru and business consultant by the name of David DeAngelo. He refers to the meaning of an evolved man as “a man who operates on a higher level than an average guy.” I would like to add my own definition: an evolved man is a man who is able to expand his consciousness and continue to mentally grow throughout his life. This post will focus on my thoughts about how one can become a much more evolved man.

Idris - suit and tie
Photo Courtesy of GQ

My own personal evolution is greatly outlined in my first post, which discussed my struggles with depression and learning to accept myself. I believe the idea of the evolved man extends far beyond my own personal journey. It is a concept that can redefine what it means to be a man in the 21st century. A modern twist on the ‘Renaissance Man’ idea. We now call it the Evolved Man. The word evolution is all about progression. The good thing is we all have a chance to make continued progress every day we’re graced with another day on this earth.

Thus, I myself am still evolving, and I hope to illuminate this concept to any man out there that happens to stumble upon my words in cyberspace. I will outline six tips and ways to make oneself a much more evolved man.

Finding Your Tribe-Mentor Up

Finding a mentor and being one is a great way to start your path to becoming an evolved man. Mentors are important to every man whether you’re a man trying to start a business, get a date, or find your life’s passion. Well, the good thing is you have men who’ve been there before and who will be more than happy to impart their knowledge to you. Some mentors will come about organically, and others you’ll have to track down and be persistent about obtaining.

First, you must find mentors who are older than you and absorb their knowledge. Male relatives, former supervisors, and academics make up my inner circle of older male mentors. They are uncles, advisors, blue-collar workers, and scientists. They represent all walks of life. I don’t talk to them every day, but when I do they are more than happy to provide some words of wisdom.

From my uncle who’s a corporate lawyer and secret philosopher who will impart his wisdom of Eastern philosophy and his own concepts of living in the NOW based on Daoist principles. Or another mentor of mine, that’s ten years my senior, who’s a former Navy officer, and businessman. When he was my boss in the military, we didn’t see eye to eye. However, after knowing each other for well over a decade, he’s been a very instrumental in helping navigate my college and professional experience. There are a few others who will remain nameless for the sake of brevity.

It’s not just about finding older mentors, but you must build your tribe by surrounding yourself with a group of peers who are operating at an expanded level. If your friends and peers are slacking and just hanging around not following their dreams, then it’s time to upgrade and find a new group to chill out with. My good friend and dear brotha, named Alex E, helped me expand my consciousness and look at the world with a much more critical eye and perspective.

My brother who’s an Army officer has influenced me in numerous ways and helped me become a much more evolved man. He is a man of great respect and integrity and someone who is the very definition of an evolved man. There’s another friend who I kindly refer to as Big U. He’s gentle giant, spirit warrior, fellow social worker, and man of the people. He’s been instrumental in showing me the more esoteric and spiritual side of life.

Brotha Malcolm
Photo Courtesy of Malcolm X on Pinterest 

Finally, become a mentor to a younger man. In the age of mass incarceration, police shootings, racial profiling, and the school to prison pipeline, mentors are needed. I wrote an earlier post about my work organizing peace circles with a group of young black men in Chicago. I still connect with them on Facebook and via phone to this day. I learned a lot from them, and they hopefully learned something me. Young black men need more male mentors, male teachers, and more positive black men to guide them in the journey called life. That positive male energy along with the female energy is needed for all of our youth.

You never know whom you might unintentionally inspire. For example, my service to the country inspired my older brother to join the National Guard, and now he’s a Capitan in the U.S. Army. My older sister graduated from University of Wisconsin-Madison with her Master’s in School Psychology. She pulled me aside the day of her graduation and told me I was her inspiration since I got my degree. You never know who’s watching you. Finding an older mentor and mentoring peers and younger people will make the world a slightly better place for all of us.

Learning is a Life Long Process

Sharing what you learn with others is the greatest gift you can give someone else. Remember, no one person knows everything, but everyone knows something. In your life, you are probably already inspiring other people who lack your knowledge.

You must be willing to try new things and push yourself outside your little personal box. Since learning is a lifelong process, you can try to pick up a new skill or hobby anytime. For instance, I tried improv comedy classes years ago, and I still continue to take them to this day. When you’re putting yourself out there you’ll look like a fool at the beginning, but after a while, you’ll get the hang of it.

I don’t plan on being the next Kevin Hart or Chris Farley. Nevertheless, after completing my third level improv class at iO Theater, I realized I looked like a fool. But my instructor told me to relax and have fun with it. He felt I was holding back. I took his advice and put aside the harsh criticism I received in my first improv class, which caused me to hold back. During my first improv class, I made a play and a joke that offended my classmates. I was criticized by the instructor and held back during two following classes. After taking my level three instructor’s advice, I instead tried to relax and had fun with the process of learning improv.

By the end of that class, I asked my instructor for some feedback. He said something that would stick with me for a long time afterward. He told me that he didn’t have any other feedback about my performance because I was definitely ready for the next level. He said I was great at it. This meant a lot to me since this instructor played the piano at iO and had seen a countless number of improv shows at all levels. But he told me that I was pitch-perfect. I may be big time one day, but seriously all this is to say that putting yourself out there when learning something new can yield some pretty good results.

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Photo Courtesy of DoveMed

The Inner Struggle

Accept failure and realize you’ll always make mistakes. We’re only human and we’re prone to screw up sometimes. Learn from those mistakes.

A confident and evolved man is someone who has worked on his internal struggles and inner game. You have to accept that you might not be the tallest, richest, or smartest guy on earth. You may have a criminal record or grew up poor. These are all things that you can’t control, and you’ll have to learn to put it in the past and work on the present. As my uncle says “you have to live in the NOW.”

If you had a traumatic event that happened in your life, whether during your childhood or even adulthood that is still causing emotional distress, I would advise seeking professional help. Please especially seek help if you’re suffering from severe depression or having suicidal thoughts. But if it’s something far less extreme, like the fact you’re a five feet tall guy and you’re bummed out due to it, then you must learn to accept it because it’s something beyond your control. Instead, learn to be the suavest and confident five-foot tall guy in the world. Write down all your perceived flaws on a sheet of paper and then realize that even the most confident person probably has a list just as long. Learning to make fun of your perceived flaws in a playful way is one method toward self-acceptance.

Anxiety happens to us all, and it’s a normal part of life. If you are trying a new skill, hobby or starting a new career, you’ll have some butterflies, but keep up at it. It’s normal to have anxiety in life, but not allowing it to hold you back is the way to grow and evolve. Embrace the negative thoughts and realize it’s mostly all in your head. If you don’t get that dream job with a particular company, or a lovely lady turns down your romantic advances, realize it’s not the end of the world. All your friends and family still love you and you didn’t die due to spontaneous combustion. There’ll be other opportunities and use the let down as a chance to flip the negative mindset around.

In life, you learn a lot from making yourself looking like a fool. When you fail at something in life, it’s not over. You have a chance to learn from your mistakes and turn it into a moment of personal growth. You’ll always have self-doubt, but you can work on positive self-talk to make these nagging thoughts get smaller and smaller in your conscious. Even standing in a power pose in the mirror before a big interview or date can boost your confidence.

Be Yourself and Stop Apologizing

I personally dealt with running the emotional gauntlet of trying to make everyone happy and apologizing when that didn’t happen. I found myself apologizing for things I didn’t do and it was emotionally draining trying to fit everyone else’s definition of who I should be. When I had my moment of clarity, it hit me like a bag of bricks. The old saying, “You can’t make everyone happy.” It’s very true and you shouldn’t have to. Happiness is an emotion that comes and goes depending on your mood.

One should seek inner peace and contentment with one’s self. It’s the best thing you can do for yourself, and it can make you the type of man who operates at an expanded state of consciousness. You’ll no longer care what others think about you. It’s not about feeling better than other people either. Arrogance is false bravado masked as confidence. It’s about being true to yourself and feeling good about it.

Once you embrace self-love and inner peace, you’ll notice the difference when you’re around other people. People will naturally gravitate towards you. You’ll be giving off positive energy and vibes. This isn’t to sound all new age. You’d much rather hang out with someone who’s generally always in a good mood versus a person who’s a downer and only sees the negative in everything.

Once you stop caring about what other people think and stop trying to make everyone happy, it’s emotionally freeing. The downside is you’ll have people who don’t like you, and you can’t do anything about it. We call those people haters. Since humans are very social creatures, it’s only natural that conflict will arise and personalities will clash.

When I was a social worker at a local non-profit in Chicago, I had a co-worker write in my six-month evaluation that I promoted male-dominance. I found it odd because I was the only male on the team of all women social workers. Luckily, none of my other women colleagues felt that way about me. By the time I started working in non-profits, I was older and no longer in the military surrounded by all men. In the military, I was all piss and vinegar. By the time I became a professional I toned down my personality and made work language a bit more PG.

Upon further conversation with this co-worker, I quickly realized for whatever reason she just didn’t like me much. I was fine with that and didn’t need to understand the why. I told her if I offended her I apologize, but I’m not going apologize for being a man. I never won over this person, but my life continued on without a hitch. So it shows that spending all that time trying to seek others’ approval is an exercise in futility.

world-map
Photo Courtesy of World Map 

Travel the World or At Least Travel to Different Part of the Country

Those in my inner- circle know I like to use the expression “expanded consciousness.” It is just a fancy way to say “open up your mind.” Nothing opens your mind like traveling to a different part of the world. Living amongst people of an entirely different culture and environment will definitely put you outside your comfort zone and remove you from your bubble.

The first country I visited was Mexico while I served in the Navy, and I’ve been fortunate enough to travel and live in ten different countries thus far. You realize how different people truly are, and despite these differences in customs, foods, and culture, people all across the board share a common humanity with one another. Every country I’ve visited, people also like to have a good time. I’m always up for having fun.

I think this is especially important for African-American men: just to realize the world is so much bigger than you expected and realizing that American culture, for better or worse, has impacted the globe. I met an Italian break-dancer in Sicily. In 2003, from Sydney to Croatia, people were all bobbing their heads to 50 Cent’s “In Da Club.”

If you can’t afford to leave the country, evening visiting a different state can help expand your mind. I spent a week and a half in the mountains of North Carolina. Being a Chicagoan, mountains are still very new to me. In the mountains, I met some great people and ate some amazingly good food. It’s an experience I’ll never forget. If you want to continue to evolve, leave your neighborhood and hometown. This will no doubt give you more stories to share with friends, family, or a date! Traveling does make a person more evolved because he can start to see things from another culture’s perspective.

Confidence and Finding Your Passion

The last tip is a bit of a no-brainer, but if you’re filled with self-doubt confidence isn’t so easy to obtain. It’s important to believe in yourself and be strong enough to admit when you’re truly wrong. Confidence, like I stated before, isn’t about putting down others or being sexist to women to make yourself feel superior. True confidence is the belief in your own abilities and limitations, and the willingness to let others shine. A confident well-rounded person wants everyone to be a more successful and fulfilled person.

There’s always room for self-improvement, and recognizing all the cool facts about yourself is an important step in building confidence. If you play the piano, bake the best brownies, or create art, these are all things to be proud of and add to your own self-worth.

Confidence goes a long way in every aspect of your life from personal relationships to more meaningful friendships to conducting business better. Self-worth is the most important part of becoming a more evolved person. In my first post, I talked about how growing up in the foster care system, being poor, and not always having my family there for me impacted and hindered my self-worth.

If you scratched the surfaced of the most confident guy you know, in their personal life they’ve suffered some type of struggle, loss, or setback. Confidence gives you the clarity to see the glass as half full versus half empty.

My past helped me find my passion in helping others and in turn helping myself heal. As a social worker, I hope I have been impactful in changing at least one person’s life for the better. Finding your passion is a surefire way to boost your self-worth and make each new day a chance for continued personal evolution. These tips are not set in stone ways to becoming an evolved man, but a mere guideline to get you on your personal path towards expanded consciousness.

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Photo Courtesy of Berneta Haynes 

 

Further Reading:

Top 10: Way to become an Evolved Man

Tariq Nasheed: Finding Self-Made Mentors

Confidence Boosters- Men’s Health Magazine

Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are – Amy Cuddy

The Skill of Self-Confidence – Dr. Ivan Joseph

 

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