Click here for the introduction explaining the premise of the series
Click here for Part 1 in the series.
Here are two more steps to become a Renaissance Man, and they are related:
Become an Expert on Your City
Most of us don’t experiment in the cities we live in. We settle into routines. We do the same daily commute, eat lunch at the same rotation of restaurants, or maybe just one restaurant. We have our favorite movie theater and our favorite bookstore and our favorite handful of restaurants. This is normal, as routines give a sense of comfort and predictability in a wildly unpredictable world.
When you’re a tourist someplace else though, you probably do the opposite. You probably try to see and experience as much as you can because you have a limited stay and you are excited by the newness of everything. You check out all the museums, try as many different bars and cafes and nightclubs as possible, do walking tours, and try to learn the story behind all the architecture.
Meanwhile, many of the locals you meet on vacation have probably never felt the urge to see the sites you want to see. The same goes for you in your hometown; there are probably many attractions you’re never even been curious to visit and much information and history you don’t bother to learn because you take your hometown for granted, plus you figure there will always be time to try new things eventually since you live there year-round.
What you need to do is become a tourist in your own town. Buy tourist books on where you live. Make an adventure out of it. First off, know where to eat, drink and shop for anything you need. Using NYC where I live as an example, you can get books like Time Out 1000 Things to Do in New York or Time Out New York Eating and Drinking 2009. In addition to the basics of eating, drinking and shopping, you can also add some guidebooks more tailored to your personal hobbies and interests. Do you like exercise like biking, hiking or running? Then try a book like Outdoor Escapes New York City or New York Running Guide (City Running Guides). Are you into political history? Get a politically themed guidebook like Radical Walking Tours of New York City (2nd ed). Are you a cheap bastard? Try a book like Broke-Ass Stuart’s Guide to Living Cheaply in New York. Do you like exploring obscure and little-known areas of historical interest? Try a book like Forgotten New York: Views of a Lost Metropolis. These examples are all NY books because that’s where I live, but you get the idea. Also scour your city’s local alt-weekly paper to check for events and find some good local blogs that deal with happenings and exhibits around your city in general and neighborhood in particular. Pick up a free museum guide from a tourism stand. The possibilities are endless.
Make a plan every weekend to explore new places and sights in your city. Combine activities. Do them alone sometimes, do them with a group, combine them into your dates, make it an outing with your buddy, vary it up. The attitude to take is that there are things you plan to do anyway, and it’s up to whoever you’re inviting whether they want to come along for the ride. You’re going regardless.
This is good for several reasons. Men should know how to navigate every corner of their terrain. A man should be resourceful. He should be able to give directions confidently, he should be able to know where to go to get what he needs at any given time in his city to the best of his ability. He should be able to recommend things confidently. Also, it makes a man well-rounded and helps him feel rooted and tapped into the continuity of where he lives as opposed to being just another one of those nomadic, floating ghosts you find who live their lives isolated and detached from their surroundings thanks to their books, internet, ipods and daily routines. Plus, men need to have hobbies to stay sane, and exploring your city is a great hobby. Men are also hardwired to be naturally curious explorers. Doing this step helps satisfy all those needs to a degree.
But more importantly, it leads into my next tip:
Grasp Any Opportunity To Make Decisions
The following phrase needs to be exorcised from your vocabulary: “I don’t know. What do you want to do?”
Never…ever…say that again. Don’t say it to your coworkers. Don’t say it to your friends. Don’t say it to your family members. And most importantly, never say “I don’t know, what do you want to do?” to a woman.
For men raised in a postfeminist world where supposedly men and women are not just supposed to be equal but fundamentally the same except for body parts, this can be confusing. When I give guys this advice, they usually say “But Ricky, if she says first that she doesn’t know what she wants to do, why is it so bad when I respond with the same thing and tell her that I don’t know what I want to do either? Why is it okay for her but not me?” Easy. Because life isn’t fair, and no matter what egalitarian ideology women verbalize in politically correct circles, they are biologically programmed to want their men to be leaders and save them from the strain of making decisions if they don’t have to. This is not the same as saying they can’t make decisions. They’re totally capable. They’d just prefer to have the man make them whenever possible and save them the effort and responsibility. Even if a woman has no idea where she wants to go, it will still piss her off and make her lose respect for you if she hears you say the same and pass the decision-making buck right back to her.
As a self-help guru I heard once said, it’s better to make a boldly make a bad decision than to meekly make no decision at all. Because even when think you’ve make no decision, in the mind of the woman you actually have made a decision. You’ve decided not to lead.
And this is where the last step of becoming an expert on your own city becomes crucial. If you’re an expert on your own city, you’ll always have home court advantage and will be able to make more informed decisions than whoever you’re with. People with a hustle mentality rather than a mastery mentality only want to learn things at the moment when they desperately need the information, and are therefore always playing catch up, getting by by the skin of their teeth and constantly making mistakes. By learning things throughout your life just for your own benefit and enjoyment without any immediate critical need for the information helps you always stay a step ahead of the game. Because you’re well-prepared, having the decision-making responsibility passed to you is not something to avoid; for a Renaissance Man it’s something he eagerly looks forward to. You’ll welcome the chance to lead. Always grasp any chance to lead whenever you spot moments of hesitation and indecision in others.
Some tips to make decision-making moments a welcome opportunity rather than a burden:
- Like mentioned above, be well-rounded and knowledgeable about many areas, especially concerning the area where you live so your decisions can be confident and informed.
- Practice making quick decisions about small things throughout your day, each and every day. Limit the time you spend weighing pros and cons. For example when shopping for something, give yourself a time limit for deliberating and weighing comparative specs. This teaches you to trust your gut and not get frozen by “analysis paralysis” or act wishy-washy.
- Be willing to risk a bad decision, and the consequences that come from it. And if you do make a bad decision, own up to it and don’t make excuses, whine or blame others. You would have taken the glory if it went well, so don’t avoid the blame if it goes badly.
- If you make a bad decision, instead of dwelling on it, focus on what you learned from the mistake, what you can do to avoid it next time, and rather than beat yourself up for the mistake, be happy for the valuable lesson you learned instead.
- Don’t look back or keep second-guessing once you’ve made the decision. Treat it as final and binding and move on unless some new critical information comes to light.
Whether dealing with your guy friends, business contacts, clients or a female you’re dating, look for and embrace opportunities to take leadership roles. A Renaissance Man is a leader of both men and women. But with women, it’s not just recommended, it’s mandatory. Make every decision first that you can. If you notice, she may be indecisive about making the first decision, but once you come up with a suggestion she’ll suddenly have a bunch of opinions and criticisms and alternative suggestions like “No, I don’t like that place” or “What about this place instead?” That’s just how it goes. Don’t be a tyrant, negotiate, take what she has to say into account and even if you do ultimately decide to go with her suggestion, make sure frame it’s clear that it’s because you felt it was the best choice and made the final call accordingly. You must make the first decision and the final call.
It sounds chauvinistic, I know, but put it in action and get back to me. I bet you’ll be plenty surprised.