A majority of men have a sheep mentality. They are followers whose actions and beliefs are reflections of the majority. Their lives are societal constructions, and they like it that way because to go your way is to embrace a life of difficulty and uncertainty.
A few men are wolves. They detest passivity and peace and prey on the sheep, bending the world to their will and herding the sheep in the direction that fits their selfish desires. Both the wolf and the sheep are afraid of becoming the other, and so they descend deeper and deeper into their respective holes, and the world slips into chaos.
Holding this chaos together are the sheepdogs: men who seek to merge the peace of the following sheep with the assertiveness of the angry wolf. These men hold themselves to the highest moral standards of virtue and truth and rebel against the hyper extremes of passivity and aggression that tear society apart.
Sheepdogs are peacekeepers and warriors, administering bandages and blows in the same motion.
Without them, our world collapses–our families are torn apart, our children are without fathers, and all that is good in this world slips slowly and inevitably away.
As a men’s coach for ten plus years, I’ve realized that we are all given the opportunity to become sheepdogs. We all look in the mirror and are daily faced with the task of taking our life into our own hands with intent and passion OR smiling passively at the lamb or wolf that stares back at us.
Deep down, we all want to acknowledge the mirror’s true reflection and see what we actually are. But today, we don’t have the guts. Today, we are weak. We leave the mirror each day, praying that a day will come when we have the grit to stand up to who we are and put our life together.
The truth is, the day you stand up to yourself is no special day. That day is just today if you only had the guts.
But you wait and your life slips deeper into chaos and the wolves and sheep tear the world further apart.
The question is how long will you wait? How long will you sit passively by?
The purpose of this article is to analyze the two dominant mentalities of men today (wolf and sheep), determine which most closely matches your mindset, and discuss how you can become more of a sheepdog and less of a wolf or sheep.
The Difficulty Facing the Modern Man
For as long as humanity has inhabited Earth, the masculine role has been determined almost entirely by circumstance and necessity.
Women needed providers and protectors during childbirth and rearing. Men were there.
Villages needed defenders and warriors to keep those who could not fight safe. Men were there.
Even in the past century, men have been relied upon for the vast majority of the manual labor and gritty work that keeps society running. Masculine men were needed and so they filled their role.
In recent times, however, many of the traditionally “manly” roles either don’t exist or have been taken over by our artificially intelligent friends. The need for muscle and power isn’t so dire anymore.
This has resulted in a remodeling of societal structure and an antiquation of masculine ideals that has, especially in the last two decades, led to many dangerous conclusions…the worst of these being that masculinity HAS NO PLACE in the modern world.
Fearing the shot-gun toting, beer-guzzling, wife-beating beast of the past, the modern world has done away with the idea of men altogether. Rather than trying to take the “toxic” out of “toxic masculinity”, they have thrown the baby out with the bathwater and kissed the whole term goodbye.
They want a new sort of man. They want a follower and a nodder–someone who watches from the sidelines and doesn’t cause problems.
The modern world wants sheep and that is what most men have become.
As men, we are caught between a rock and a hard place because we too fear becoming the aggressive man of the past. So rather than risk becoming a wolf, we choose his slightly more savory and slightly less problematic alternative and join the flock.
But what we don’t know is that there is another alternative altogether–you can become a new, better man. We accept our rebukes, tuck our tails, and let our identity as men slip slowly into the shadows.
We don’t even give the sheepdog a chance!
The Sheep Mentality
Sheep are the vast majority of men. They follow whoever is in front of them, ambling indifferently along the path that life has laid before them.
They get the college degree that their parents suggested and go to work each day because that’s what humans do. They marry a mediocre girl and have a mediocre marriage for a few years.
When trouble comes in the relationship, they divorce and get a bit lonely for a while before finding another mediocre girl to settle down with again.
Sheep never fix anything in their life that takes work to fix. They never end generational trauma or overcome self-sabotaging habits. They just continue existing as they are.
They don’t hate their life, but nor do they love it because it’s hard to love something that took no effort, creativity, or risk to create. Living the life of a sheep feels like trying to feel proud of a decent grade you get on a test after you copied off of someone else.
The most important thing to note about the sheep is that they rarely do something very wrong. They aren’t the awful people doing terrible things. Their number one objective in life is to not cause a problem. They’ve found, as long as they do what everyone else is doing, they aren’t causing any more of a problem than anyone else.
As long as the flock around them isn’t upset with them, sheep consider their existence successful.
A sheep doesn’t do well with women because he doesn’t stand for anything himself. He only believes anything or acts in any way as long as it is acceptable to the world and comfortable enough for him.
In summary, a sheep is characterized by:
- Following whatever’s popular and doing whatever everyone else does
- Fearing conflict
- Leading a mediocre life
- Never taking responsibility for their own happiness
- Having little to no purpose beyond keeping others pleased with them
- Pursuing immediate pleasure
If any or many of these traits sound like you, I’ve got good and bad news for you. The bad news is your dominant mentality is that of a sheep. The GOOD NEWS is that if you keep reading, you will learn how to combat this passive approach to life and embrace your true role as a man on this earth.
The first step in overcoming the sheep mentality is realizing that…
If the best thing you do in life is not causing a problem, you aren’t living.
To escape the sheep mentality, you have to realize that your life isn’t going to change without you deciding to change it.
No one’s going to rescue you.
The Wolf Mentality
Wolves are the minority of men who choose aggression over passivity.
They despise the idea of weakness–in others, but especially in themselves. They prey on the sheep of the world, taking advantage and wielding their power through fear.
It isn’t an admirable courage or a commendable strength that gives a man a wolf mentality. It’s deep-seated insecurity often stemming from a childhood of emotional abuse and suppressed emotions.
Many think that men with this aggressive approach are just trying to prove something to the world. This is often the case, but usually, there is something much deeper. Usually, these men are trying to prove something to themselves more than anything.
Everything they do is a desperate attempt to prove to themselves that they are ENOUGH–that they are strong ENOUGH, that they are valuable ENOUGH, that they are man ENOUGH.
A man with the wolf mentality believes that if he can convince the world that he is strong, he will eventually start to believe it as well.
Women generally steer clear of him in romantic relationships unless they themselves are insecure and need an aggressive, arrogant man to make them feel feminine.
Some of the cornerstones of the wolf mentality and the false beliefs that they live by are…
- Asking for help is weak
- Expressing emotion is weak
- It’s better to go alone
- Following others is pathetic
- Anger is the epitome of honesty
Men with these characteristics are weighed down by deep-set insecurities and emotional turmoil that can only be dealt with when they finally break.
If this sounds like you, don’t lose hope. Many of the characteristics that make you such an intense, aggressive man have their place. They just need to be tempered and sculpted with more balance.
Throughout my coaching career, I’ve found that it is often easier for men to go from wolf to sheepdog than sheep to sheepdog.
You just need humility and time.
The Sheepdog Mentality and How to Develop It
Nestled snugly between the sheep and the wolf on the spectrum of male mentality is the sheepdog.
Hating the sheep’s addiction to peace and the wolf’s partiality to conflict, the sheepdog tries to find a productive balance.
He is the grounded man. He stands firmly by his beliefs, defends that which is right in the world, and knows where he is headed.
Men with the sheepdog mentality take the positives from the sheep and wolf and leave the negatives…
- desire peace like the sheep, but are willing to defend it with the warrior spirit of the wolf
- are assertive, rather than passive like the sheep or aggressive like the wolf
- are confident, rather than being a pushover like the sheep or arrogant like the wolf
- are able to open up to the few whom they fully trust
- are aware of their flaws and quick to acknowledge them
- hate passivity like the wolf, but search for ways to solve conflict peacefully
- make women feel protected and loved at the same time
No man, of course, is entirely good in their actions or motives, but the sheepdog is conscious about being the best he can be, unlike the wolf or the sheep.
A grounded man lives his life according to a vision for the future rather than reacting to the feelings of the present moment.
Unlike the sheep, he embraces hardship and difficulty because he knows it’s the only way to grow. He knows how to be assertive without being aggressive.
Below are the three foundational traits of the sheepdog that any man should go after.
What do you think of when you think of the word ‘responsibility’?
A job? Car or house payments? Taking care of your parents?
These are all responsibilities that any good man takes seriously, but these are not the sorts of responsibilities I am talking about.
To be a grounded man, you must take on the biggest responsibility of all: the responsibility FOR YOUR OWN LIFE.
You have to kiss any victim mindsets goodbye and realize that the only person who can change your life is you.
We all have things that we need rescuing from in life. I would go so far as to say that we all have things that we DESERVE rescuing from.
We all have problems that aren’t our fault… fathers with alcohol addictions, abusive parents, untimely sicknesses.
It’s up to you what you do with these problems, though. You can take the path of the sheep and wave your white flag in surrender–give in to the struggle and place the blame where it deserves to be put: your father, parents, or life.
You can take the path of the wolf and refuse to acknowledge your issues. You can become an angry, bitter man filled with hatred for the world and all within it. You can even be justified in these feelings.
Or, you can choose to be a real man and accept yourself and your life for what it is and do your utmost to be the best man you can be.
The second pillar of the sheepdog mentality, and what I believe to be the cornerstone of any successful man’s life, is intentionality.
Intentionality is the drive and focus that allows all your strengths as a man to show their face. Your creativity is nothing without intentionality. Your brilliance is nothing without intentionality. Even a good heart is nothing without intentionality.
Intentionality is the difference between having a good idea and making that good idea turn into something. It’s what sets apart the world-changers from the burger flippers of society.
If you aren’t intentional about all aspects of your life (family, health, career), they’re gone before you know it (I speak from experience).
To be intentional, you have to wake up in the morning and say more than, “Today I’m going to be better.”
You have to look yourself in the mirror and tell yourself exactly what you’re going to do to be better, then…and here’s the part where most guys screw up…go do it!
Responsibility recognizes that your life isn’t what you want it to be, and intentionality gets it where you want it to be.
The third and last pillar of the sheepdog mentality is leadership.
This one loses a lot of guys because of a couple of misunderstandings…
- Being a leader does not mean you want to be a leader.
- Being a leader does not mean you’re outspoken.
Think of the likes of Gandhi, Albert Einstein, or even Abraham Lincoln–all introverted men who led by example. Their first aim wasn’t to stand in front of crowds, spout their personal beliefs off, or amass followers.
They felt RESPONSIBLE for changing the world and found the most INTENTIONAL way to do that involved living lives that manifested their beliefs, making people follow them.
A grounded man is a leader not because he wants to be one, but because others want to be like him. A huge realization I’ve had over my decade-plus self-improvement journey is that when you start to do something right, people get curious.
You’ll start to get questions like: how’d you build that body? How’d you develop that relationship with your wife? How do you have enough time with your kids and your job? Why aren’t you stressed like everybody else?
These questions indicate that you are a leader (even if you don’t want to be one).
There are countless ways to approach your life that yield vastly different results. I’m not talking about career choice, house choice, or what you have for breakfast.
I’m talking about the choices that really affect you: your beliefs, how you spend your time, and what you do with your mind when you wake up each day.
I’m talking about your mentality!
Your mentality is what makes or breaks you. It’s what fills your life with meaning and purpose, or leaves you desolate and alone.
Ultimately, your mentality determines whether you sit on your deathbed with loving family by your side and breathe your last with a smile of satisfaction, or sit on that same deathbed with a few begrudging family members there to see your miserable life to its miserable end.
If you are tired of living a mediocre life and fear a mediocre death, you aren’t alone. Millions of men feel exactly the same and I have done something about it.
To combat mediocrity, fight against toxic masculinity, and finally put the nice guy to bed, I’ve put together a brotherhood of men with the same goals as you. In partnership with a team of the best men’s coaches on the planet, this band of brothers is turning their lives around and reintroducing the world to “real men.”
If you’re tired of living a life of passive submission to the struggles of the world or ready to let go of your anger at everything and embrace a life of responsibility, our program is for you.
It all starts with taking your life into your own hands and acting intentionally.
SO, what will you be? Sheep, wolf, or sheepdog?