Becoming A Renaissance Man, Part 2

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.

18 Responses to “Becoming A Renaissance Man, Part 2”

  1. rawdog billionaire on January 27th, 2009 at 6:58 PM

    dude, this series of posts is great and extremely useful. thanks a million and keep up the good work!

  2. Good post. Being decisive is something that all men should work on, whether or not they’re going for the player-alpha thing.

  3. Zosimus the Heathen on January 28th, 2009 at 11:48 AM

    Agree totally with the stuff you wrote about becoming an expert on your own city. One of the BEST things I ever did in that regard (one of the best things I ever did full stop, in fact) was start writing for one of my own city’s alt-weekly papers over a decade ago, something I’m still doing. Since the focus of the paper in question is music (with a bit of other entertainment-related stuff thrown in), my work as a writer for them has really opened my eyes to my own city’s various music scenes, something I’d been almost totally ignorant of beforehand. Although the city I live in (Adelaide, Australia) is pretty small by global standards (there’re just over a million people living here), it’s music scene is phenomenal, not just in terms of its size, but also in terms of the quality of the material coming out of it. Before I started this whole writing gig, I used to have a rather condescending attitude towards the homegrown talent (if it came from my own backyard, I used to figure, it couldn’t be that great), but since I actually started speaking to a lot of the local musos and seeing them perform, I’ve realized that that earlier view could not have been more misguided. I’ve seen local punk bands that could’ve been transported from late 1970s London, local hardcore bands that could’ve come from New York, and a host of local rappers that are also very talented (they’re not all white either, thanks to a recent influx of immigrants from Africa). I’ve discovered that not only does my city have a vibrant metal scene (the main scene I follow), but that this scene is divided into three or four smaller ones, each of whose followers you never seem to see at any of the other scenes’ respective shows. Not only has my writing opened my eyes to a lot of the local musical talent, it?s also encouraged me to explore genres I previously never would have even considered listening to. Recently, for example, I’ve started looking at my city’s nascent African music scene, which is also quite impressive, and something that, only six months ago, I never would’ve thought even existed. Through my explorations of this, I’ve discovered in turn that we have our very own gospel choir here, composed entirely of Burundian immigrants, and that they?re very good at what they do. Who’d have thought?

    Not only have I been looking a lot at my local music scene, I’ve also been making an effort to try many of the local restaurants, as well as diversify a bit in the types of cuisine I eat. During the last few months, for example, I?ve developed a real taste for Ethiopian food, and have so far found three places here that serve it, something that?s really surprised me; I wouldn?t have thought there?d be even one! And not only do I try new restaurants, I try to be a little more adventurous in what I pick off the menu at each one; in fact, unless it looks really disgusting, or contains something I really don?t like, I?ll tend to order the most unusual dish on offer. Thanks to that attitude, I?ve developed a real taste for an Ethiopian dish called kitfo, something that consists of spiced, minced raw meat eaten with injera bread, itself something I?d never had before. At one time, I?m sure, I would have recoiled at the mere thought of eating something like that, but having actually tried it, I find it one of the most delicious things I?ve ever eaten! And when I?m at an exotic restaurant, I?ll try the imported beer they serve there too, just to complete the experience.

    Finally, I?ve recently rediscovered the joys of an old pastime I used to engage in many years ago: simply jumping on my bicycle and going for long rides to nowhere in particular. Not only is it a cheap and healthy way to pass the time, it also enables me to see parts of my own city I?ve probably never seen before, even after years of living here. In addition, it enables me to indulge in a new hobby I?ve taken up: photography. Having recently acquired a digital camera, I?ve become quite the shutterbug, with a particular fondness for pictures of graffiti art. Again, that?s an area where I?ve been astonished at what my own city has to offer, for, in my travels, I?ve seen and taken pictures of dozens of stunning pieces of graffiti art, much of it up there with the finest stuff a city like LA has to offer (I know, because I recently bought a book on the latter thing).

  4. I haven’t checked out your blog in a while but this Renaissance Man series is amazing stuff. I will make an extra effort to come back regularly.

  5. Man you’re killing this series… keep em coming… living in DC it’s so true what you say about being an expert about your city. I’ve grown up close by been on school field trips all the time into DC.. for some reason it bores me but I should know better.

    virgle Kents last blog post..Victoria Secret Killer

  6. It’s true. We used to be the hunters ranging near and far and memorizing the landscape in intimate detail. We are built for it.

    I also agree wholeheartedly with banishing “I don’t know” from your vocabulary. Always have and express an opinion. Only allow her to influence the decision after you’ve proclaimed the plan, and at that only some of the time, maybe half. Train her to say what she wants if she really wants it and give it to her often enough to discourage the “Guess my fickle whim today” game. You must put your boot down on the throat of the “read my mind or you don’t love me” mindset. Banish that shit from your relationship. Women always say they want communication, make sure they abide by that.

    alphadominances last blog post..Cash is King?? Orgy of federal borrowing is one you don?t want any part of.

  7. One thing I struggle with is when in bed with a woman (when it is not the first time, but perhaps after you’ve slept together a few times). I think a real gentleman is interested in pleasing his woman (and obviously, himself — these can go together, however). With the whole “make the decisions” theory — is it okay to ask a woman what she likes in bed? What positions, etc? Is this seen as not dominant? In the past, about half the girls I’ve asked this to have taken advantage to change it up (which is good — I want them to enjoy it as much as possible, because it might mean repeat for me), and the other half have brushed it off, embarrassed, and said something like “this is good” or something. Thoughts?

  8. I am usually apathetic to the city that I live in. Lots of homework for me now.

    Thanks for this series, it’s very helpful.

    kowsiks last blog post..sushupti

  9. MD – Aside from asking if she likes it in the “You like that, don’t you?” dominant way, there’s really no point. You can tell if she’s enjoying it by her reactions – if she’s stiff and quiet, make some adjustments. The only time it’s worth it to ask is when you already know the answer and just want the satisfaction of hearing her say it. Otherwise, work harder to get to that point.

  10. MD,

    I think a lot of women find it unromantic to have to state what they like. Others may be so inhibited they couldn’t even turn themselves on. Either way you should learn to read her responses, and stop caring so much whether any particular thing is “the best” for her. That’s beta behavior. Pay attention to her muscle tone and lubrication down below. Are her pupils dilated? Is she breathless? Is she writhing or a cold fish? Is she making faces and vocalizing like a banshee? These things are good. The less composed and in control she is, the better.

    Another part of why women have a hard time putting what they like into words is that it’s never consistent. Women love spontaneity, the worst thing you can do is to be predictable. Therefore, verbalizing specifically what positions she likes and in what order takes her excitement away. What you are doing is looking for a logical solution to a feeling creature. It doesn’t work that way. As soon as she knows what sequence of positions and when and how you are going to do her she’ll lose interest. You are far better off keeping her guessing. If you’ve known her a while, you know her limits. Push the envelope. If one day you do the slow gentle thing and focus intensely on her pleasure, follow it up by tearing her clothes off in the kitchen and riding her from behind and blowing your load in her face. She’ll thank you for it. The actual technical mechanics are far less important to her than how you make her feel emotionally. Avoid the slow death of the emotional even keel. Make her love you intensely one day and hate you the next, and miss you the third. She’ll keep coming back for more, I assure you.

    alphadominances last blog post..Cash is King?? Orgy of federal borrowing is one you don?t want any part of.

  11. They?d just prefer to have the man make them whenever possible and save them the effort and responsibility.

    I could add that a long list of reasons why porn is better than women. Hell, I almost dumped a sweet and reasonable intelligent girl because she always pulled that shit on me, and it drove me crazy.

    I’ll be honest, I’m the guy who always brings up ?I don?t know, what do you want to do?? to a whole host of women in my life, and I’ll admit that the main reason is that I’d prefer that they’d make decision and take responsibility for it in case it fails. Plus, it some of the situations, I’m not particularly aware of the options that are available, or I’d like an option that doesn’t piss her off.

    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.

    I’d argue that leading to failure is a bigger waste and more shameful than not leading at all, but my words are cheap and not worth much. It all depends if one views the cost of failure as higher than the cost of inaction.

    David Alexanders last blog post..Back to Square One?

  12. DA,

    You need to man up. You need to carefully read these Renaissance man posts and take them to heart.

    Stop being everybody’s bitch and discounting yourself. I’ve read the way the guys talk to you. You don’t have to take that.

    It is far better to fail spectacularly than not to try at all. Did you read part one about not apologizing? You sound like a cringing beaten dog and I don’t say this to be mean, I hope you take it constructively.

    You have resources here you can avail yourself of so why not do it? Beta (omega?) is a mindset man, change it for crying out loud. If you don’t begin to respect yourself nobody else is going to.

    If they don’t like what you have to say or where you take them on a date fuck ’em. It’s only the fact that you care about the outcome that you live in fear. Believe me, you’ll get so much more mileage out of telling them to kiss your ass than you will by kissing theirs.

    If you haven’t yet read my stuff too, you obviously need all the help you can get.

    alphadominances last blog post..Cash is King?? Orgy of federal borrowing is one you don?t want any part of.

  13. This is a very useful series. It (and a couple of your other posts) inspired me to write a short guide to being an asshole:

    Martin Regnens last blog post..The Drama Queen of the Week: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

  14. 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.

    If people, such as women, get bent out of shape because you say that, it’s their problem, not yours. You’re subjecting yourself to the irrational whims of others.

    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.

    Based on what? A renaissance man is just someone who excels in a wide variety of things.

  15. This is good advice.

    Because of this post, I have started being the one to suggest a restaurant first whenever I and my coworkers go to lunch. I does cut down on the “I don’t know what do you want” indecision. The trick is to anticipate when the decision is to be made.

    I do need to step this up with my wife. Alpha dominance has good tips too.

    One way to have control over things is to be negative and shut down others suggestions. This annoys people. It is better to be decisive about what you want to do. You can still be open to others suggestions.

  16. T. –

    I am gradually working my way through your stuff; really digging your writing. The bit about making decisions: jesus thank you. Please now go tell all men that. You are so flipping spot-on.

    I will say this: I am not sure I agree completely that our respective gender programming is really biological. I actually think that it’s really (still) mostly social conditioning that makes women feel more comfortable with a man in the lead. Feminism just didn’t work. You cannot undo thousands of years of societal mores in a few decades. I mean, look at racial segregation. In this continent over the course of the last 402 years, people had legal black/white segregation going on for 363 of those years. We still have issues, because it takes more than 40 years to undo that shit. It takes lifetimes, generations, of relearning.

    Now, I am by no means making excuses for discriminators, segregation, nor racism; neither am I advocating for a different treatment of women than you advised per some more egalitarian ideal. Actually, I read recently that some anthropoligists posited that gender role separation was the reason early humans evolved and Neanderthals didn’t; the Neanderthals didn’t separate into gender roles and thus had no systems for gathering/storing food and surviving when conditions got challenging. Could be chicken/egg when considering whether you want to call that a very early social conditioning vs. biologial… Hmm… I wish I could give you a handy link here, but I honestly don’t know where I read this. Anyway something to think about.


  17. Szn,

    I am not sure I agree completely that our respective gender programming is really biological.

    Without question culture plays a role, but one can neither attribute all gender difference to biology or to culture.

    Some evidence of the biological basis for gender difference:

    Parental investment theory.

    “The Female Brain” by Louanne Brizendine
    “Sex Time & Power” by Leonard Shlain
    “Sperm Wars” by Robin Baker

    And finally, my site which addresses this question and the science behind it in detail.

    alphadominances last blog post..Humans have Pheromones Too: Part III ~ Female Pheromones

  18. Absolutely agree. Anyone that can take the wheel and drive has my vote. I was once dating this guy that asked me EVERY SINGLE time he wanted to or was thinking about doing something – ANYTHING. PISSED ME OFF! At first I thought he was just being considerate, but a few months in, I realized this dude had no balls. Sorry, i’m not your mom.
    .-= The Sphinx´s last blog ..Bachelor of Arts, Master of Conceited Bastard =-.