Bottom Line Up Front: There are 66 questions embedded in this post. Answer them. The good news–the economy is changing and Authentic Men are greatly in demand. The better news– if we adapt to the changing climate, we will thrive in the turbulence and opportunity all around us. The warning: We must be careful—success can destroy us and those we love.

What is self-reliant, successful significance? EASY! Just master virtue, read a tough book and change your life.

For Authentic Men to live self-reliant lives of significance (which we are all built to do) we must work, we must serve, we must love. As social, economic and political creatures, we need frameworks to guide us. The most basic frameworks we at Authentic Masculinity recommend are The Seven Cardinal Virtues and Kiyosaki’s Cash Flow Quadrant.  Master the Virtues and master the Quadrant and you can lead a life of self-reliant significance. What’s the key? Five simple words: Get started and don’t quit.

Ask yourself the right questions and consider your environment.

How much freedom do you deserve? If that’s hard for you to answer, how much freedom do those you love and lead deserve? Next, assess your environment. Is your environment consistent with your values? Can you trust others to care for you, your wife, and your children in your environment? When you confront the ultimate reality—death—what will happen to those you love and lead? It isn’t prudent to entrust our welfare to others. In fact, it’s a betrayal, because others have entrusted their welfare to us. They need us to come through.

How do you stack up against The Seven Cardinal Virtues?

Conduct this Internal Inventory on paper using a 1-10 scale and written responses. Ask these questions and don’t look away. Be your own toughest critic and become your own strongest ally.

1.       How prudent am I? What is the quality of my decisions? How well does my reason govern my emotions?

2.       How just am I? Do I treat others with justice and do I accept justice with humility? How kind am I to those in difficulty?

3.       How temperate am I? Am I a prisoner to my passions and appetites? Do I own my money and possessions or do they own me? Am I addicted to pornography, alcohol, food, gambling? Do I lose my temper? How often do I allow my children—subordinates, colleagues– to see me in the grip of anger?

4.       How courageous am I? When I am faced with something that frightens me do I allow it to dictate my actions? Am I prone to panic? Do I avoid healthy confrontation? Am I willing to protect others weaker than I?

5.       How faithful am I? Do I believe in good things I cannot see? Do I have faith in the people who rely on me and on whom I must rely? Do I have faith in the systems I serve? Do I have faith in myself?

6.       How hopeful am I? Do I look to the future with confidence and hope? Sometimes this in itself is an act of valor. It takes strength to be hopeful. Am I strong enough to be hopeful?

7.       How much am I willing to love others in a healthy way that promotes their well-being? Am I strong enough to serve others and place their welfare ahead of my own?

How much do you know about bringing value and serving as an Employee, a Self Employed, a Business Owner and an Investor?

Employees trade time for money, work for others and are taxed at the highest rate for the lowest quality of money. Employees have many of their problems taken care of by others. A J.O.B. (Just Over Broke) is a short term solution to a long term problem.

Self Employeds trade time for money, work for themselves, have some control of how they are taxed and when. We think of them as Supermen because they do so much themselves. They tend to see themselves as indispensable to an effort and frequently they are, which is their downfall.

Business Owners use systems to put themselves out of a job and own the systems. They don’t trade time for money but set up repeatable systems that make money for them while they sleep. They have the advantage of all the best tax breaks and they have Time Freedom. If they are modern business owners they may also have Geographical Freedom.

Investors use money to make more money. Investors study everything to understand how it all works together in the world. Investors are the ultimate knowledge workers because they move money and investments around the world, in and out of businesses and categories of investment at will.

How to conduct a Strategic Assessment

Start where you are. Judge yourself using the following process. Use the same tools: a piece of paper and a pencil.

Who are you?

What are you?

Where are you on your journey?

When is it, [what time is it], in your life?

Why do you want to succeed at any particular effort? If the answer to this question is strong, the answer to the next question will be easy.

How are you going to move forward, today, tomorrow, into the future?

Now look at yourself in light of the Four Privileges you enjoy as a man: Prince, Priest, Provider and Protector… there is a fifth… Prophet, but we’re still mulling that one over.

Prince, Priest, Provider and Protector.

How are you doing as a Prince? How seriously do you take your role as an authority figure? Are you self-possessed? To rule others either through management or leadership, you must first master yourself. At least you must start the journey of trying. The best way to learn self-mastery is to know yourself. This takes time and diligence.

How are you doing as a Priest? When it comes to your spiritual framework, do you know what you believe? Can you teach it to others? Can you answer questions about it? Have you perhaps just accepted what you were taught? Have you made your spiritual framework your own spiritual framework? Do you own it? If not, it’ll crumble when you need it. You must own your framework and test it.

How are you doing as a Provider? Do you take seriously the responsibility you have to provide for those in your care (If you are only responsible for yourself, you should be preparing to take care of others)? Are you providing material needs and doing so in such a way that you are maintaining balance and letting others see that you own your goods, your goods don’t own you? As you build your career are you doing so in a spirit of discipline or devotion? Discipline is hard. Devotion makes all work easier. Devote yourself to your work. The mix should be about 80% devotion, 20% discipline. Maybe 90-10. Discipline is there to carry you through the tough parts when you do not feel inspired. That will happen more frequently when you are in a growth period working outside your comfort zone.

How are you doing as a Protector? You have an obligation to protect those you love and lead from physical as well as spiritual and moral danger. The physical dangers are frightening because they seem to be everywhere as our societies accept more and more bad behavior as normal.  The physical dangers are linked to the moral and spiritual dangers. We live in a time when there is strong cultural overpressure forcing you to compromise and accept an attitude of anything goes. Remember the saying, “A man who stands for nothing will fall for anything.”  So, listen to competing ideas with an open mind, but not an empty mind. Be a student, not a follower, and seek out objective standards of Right and Wrong. They will serve you well. Have clear, boldly drawn lines you will not cross. Remember my friend, an Army Officer named Steve who studied Chinese with me in 1990. He told me, “There’s no grey. You just need a brighter flashlight.” There wasn’t. I did.

Health, Wealth, Network.

How is your Health? Spiritual, Physical, Emotional, Financial? Health and Wealth both tend to be measured in time and according to their degree of quality.  What is the quality of your life?

How is your Wealth? Spiritual, physical, emotional and financial wealth.

How are your Networks? What people do you know and how well do you know them?

Can you turn to them for advice, counsel, money, influence?

If not, why not?

If so, why?

Four-Step Call to Action: First, answer the above questions in writing.  Do it quickly, do it now. Second, make the conscious decision to set your answers aside and wait three days. Third, in three days, review your answers. Remember the words of my friend the hunter—“It’s tough to solve any problem until you know where you are and what time it is.” Your answers to the questions in this blogpost will give you insight into where you are and what time it is in your life. Fourth, go over the questions and your answers to them with a man you trust.  The fruit of these four steps is two-fold: You will know yourself better and you’ll benefit from the discipline of setting yourself a task, completing it and recording your thoughts. This is huge. The next step is to master goal setting.  For that, look for AM’s Goal Setting Worksheet, which will be out soon.