How to Turn a Boy Into a Man | Jon Tyson on The Art of Manliness with Brett McKay (#810)

Key Takeaways

  • Jon Tyson set out to create a 6-year journey (rite of passage) that would help his son move from boy to man
  • When you hit puberty, the whole world changes (body filled with testosterone, chemicals pumping, unallocated energy, etc.)
    • How do you channel extra energy in a life-giving way? (this is what Tyson is addressing in the book)
  • Masculinity is energy born via testosterone, and manliness is a culture that we use to direct that energy
    • Without direction, masculinity becomes dangerous
  • “The Day Your Son Leaves Home” exercise
    • What do I want my son to know? Man of wisdom, navigate the complexities of life
    • Who do I want my son to be? Moral ethical and character formation
    • What do I want my son to be able to do? Skill acquisition. A man should be able to step into a room and add value via skill acquisition
    • What experiences do I need to design to make this happen? 
  • When something emerges in your life, you have to mark it (rituals) to internalize it so life is not just a blur of ordinary days
    • Modern life is all about lack of context; we are bombarded with a lot of different stories and get disoriented
    • A kid needs to know his role in the story to get the context to either push back against or accept
  • Rather than choosing cultural values, Jon takes historically proven virtues and makes these the baseline (justice, wisdom, courage, and self-restrain)
    • The men we need today are embodied in these values; just men in the world of tyrants, restrained men in the world of excess, wise men in the world of fools, and courageous men in the world of fear
  • How did Jon pass these values to his son? 
    • Taking him on trips and showing examples in the real world
    • Having talks every morning, i.e. connecting (ordinary habitual stuff)
    • Assigning books to read
  • The 5 shifts of manhood compiled by Jon Tyson are 
    • From ease to difficulty. Boys embrace ease, mean embrace difficulty
    • From self to others. Boys are about themselves, men are about others
    • From the whole to a part. Men realize they are only a part of a greater story
    • From control to surrender. Boys think they can maintain control, men understand the mysterious power of surrender
    • From the temporary to the eternal. Boys think about what matters right now, men look at the bigger picture
  • He designed units to help his son learn these lessons, a couple of months on each of these, have daily talks
  • What men actually want is to become good at being a man; understanding money, being good at practical skills, having social skills to build relationships, knowing what it means to be a friend, etc.
    • “I think a lot of people today are living half of their lives because they’ve been shoved into these passionless scripts that they think this is what it means to be a man.”Jon Tyson 

Key Books Mentioned

Intro

  • A lot of young men today struggle with becoming adults. They are unsure of who they are and how to navigate the world. According to Jon Tyson, one of the reasons for this is that young men lack a rite of passage
  • Join the Primal Path weekly newsletter 
    • Short thoughts for dads and men about how to navigate the complexity of being a man in the modern world
  • Host – Brett McKay (@brettmckay)

Giving Your Son the Experience You Never Had

  • Jon set out to create a 6-year journey (rite of passage) that would help his son move from boy to man
  • How was the idea born?
    • Jon had a profound sense of being overwhelmed that he didn’t have what it takes to help his son become a man
    • He spent a decade reading and figuring out how to do it because he had absolutely nothing (he was working from a deficit)
    • A lot of dads are similar in that way; there is a hole in their life they are trying to figure out how to fill, and do something better for their kids
  • When should a kid start a rite of passage?
    • Throughout history, it was around year 13 (not necessarily culturally, more connected to puberty)
  • What Happens to Boys When They Lack a Strong Father Figure
    • Kids are 4 times more likely to live in poverty
    • More likely to suffer emotional and behavioral problems
    • High levels of risky and aggressive behavior
    • More likely to go to prison, etc.
  • “The presence of a dad in a home makes an incredible difference.”Jon Tyson
  • “One of the greatest advantages that someone can have in their life is a present loving father figure.” Jon Tyson
    • A good father is an intentional father

“Help Me Figure Out What to Do With This Energy.”

  • “There is a hole in the sole of most men, and they are seeking and striving to catch up with it.”Jon Tyson
    • Creating self-initiations to fill the hole
  • When you hit puberty, the whole world changes (body filled with testosterone, chemicals pumping, unallocated energy, etc.)
    • How do you channel extra energy in a life-giving way? (this is what Tyson is addressing in the book)
    • Historically, the purpose of rites of passage was to create the guardrails so the gift of male energy could be channeled for the good of the community and the man
    • Without initiation, young men will seek to do something with their energy that confers a sense of confidence (underage drinking, risky sexual behavior, etc.)
  • Anxiety, depression, and the challenges the teenage boys face
    • Our lack of initiation at scale is more damaging than going through ancient rites of passage (despite how intense or barbaric they are)
  • Masculinity vs manliness
    • Masculinity is energy born via testosterone, and manliness is a culture that we use to direct that energy
    • Without direction, masculinity becomes dangerous

“The Day Your Son Leaves Home” exercise

  • Jon got the idea from Stephen Covey’s best-selling book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
    • Begin with the end in mind
    • Start with a clear destination; use your imagination to develop a vision of what you want to become
    • That way, you make sure the steps you’re taking are in the right direction
    • Great framework for many areas of life 
    • Jon wanted to apply it to the day when he sends his son off to college
  • Working backward, keeping that day vivid in his mind and asking himself a series of questions to design that pathway for him
    • What do I want my son to know? Man of wisdom, navigate the complexities of life
    • Who do I want my son to be? Moral ethical and character formation
    • What do I want my son to be able to do? Skill acquisition. A man should be able to step into a room and add value via skill acquisition
    • What experiences do I need to design to make this happen? 
  • “With all the best intentions in the world, without a conscious pathway and designing the experiences where these things are developed, it’s never going to happen.”Jon Tyson
    • What do I have at my disposal to make this happen?
    • Tribe of fathers (making it a community project)
    • No dad is going to be a perfect father
    • Having all that pressure on your back can be overwhelming, but distributing all that via a community of men is a real gift
    • Asset map – finding other people in your life that have the tools to make it happen

It Began With Him Having a “Severing Dinner” With His Mom

  • Severing/directional dinner
    • Taking her son out for dinner at his favorite restaurant and giving him a series of gifts
    • Making it clear that she will not nurture his immaturity
    • Nor allow him to come back to her for comfort and ease when faced with challenges
  • The mother will push him back toward his father
    • The dinner was one of the psychologically most powerful moments according to his son

What Stories Am I a Part Of?

  • “If I could sum up modern culture in one phrase it would be this: project self.”Jon Tyson
    • The world is telling us that we are the center of everything
    • Narcissism is of epidemic proportions today
    • Jon wanted his son to have a bigger picture of life (family story, long line of Tyson men)
  • To figure out your role, you need to understand the story
    • Bringing his son back to Australia (where his father was born) to give him a sense of continuity and history, to have a context
    • He brought him to places where he made big decisions in his own life
  • When something emerges in your life, you have to mark it (rituals) to internalize it so life is not just a blur of ordinary days
    • Modern life is all about lack of context; we are bombarded with a lot of different stories and get disoriented
    • A kid needs to know his role in the story to get the context to either push back against or accept
  • Jon had a wild life; dropped out of high school, worked at a meat factory, bought a house when he was 19, moved out of the country, etc.
    • He wanted his son to see that and feel the weight so he could understand the context that Jon was parenting out

The Power of Classical Virtues

  • Rather than choosing cultural values, Jon takes historically proven virtues and makes these the baseline
  • The power of classical virtues: justice, wisdom, courage, and self-restrain
    • The men we need today are embodied in these values; just men in the world of tyrants, restrained men in the world of excess, wise men in the world of fools, and courageous men in the world of fear
  • How did Jon pass these values to his son? 
    • Taking him on trips and showing examples in the real world
    • Having talks every morning, i.e. connecting (ordinary habitual stuff)
    • Assigning books to read
  • What does his son need to cover to graduate to manhood?
    • He knew what he wanted to teach, he got a calendar and broke the content into little chunks
  • No. 1 takeaway for his son from all those years of content: “You are who you are when no one is looking.”
    • You never know what is going to stick and have the biggest impact
  • If you are a busy dad, make a list of movies to watch and have a discussion afterward
    • Jon and his son would watch Band of Brothers and have barbeque afterward
    • It was one of their favorite shows to learn from
    • They would discuss what they learned after each episode and ate their way around New York City as a reward for doing these nights together

The 5 Shifts of Manhood

  • One of the things he did was learn from the work of Richard Rohr
    • He modified Rohr’s 5 rules of manhood that every boy needs to learn
  • The 5 shifts of manhood compiled by Jon Tyson are 
    • From ease to difficulty. Boys embrace ease, mean embrace difficulty
    • From self to others. Boys are about themselves, men are about others
    • From the whole to a part. Men realize they are only a part of a greater story
    • From control to surrender. Boys think they can maintain control, men understand the mysterious power of surrender
    • From the temporary to the eternal. Boys think about what matters right now, men look at the bigger picture
  • He designed units to help his son learn these lessons, a couple of months on each of these, have daily talks
    • A weekly thing called “man school”, and at the end, they would do a challenge
  • E.g. from ease to difficulty
    • His son is afraid of heights so Jon took him to the highest ropes course in Australia
    • It was just a way of showing progress; building the sense of “taking ground” and embracing difficulty
    • “There is nothing more demoralizing for men than working hard and seeing no progress from your labor.”Jon Tyson
  • E.g. from the temporary to the eternal
    • Taking him to the graveyard
    • What is your “dash”?
    • The dash is the symbol between the number you were born and the number when you will die
    • It represents your entire life
    • Time is the most important commodity; his son is very time conscious as a result of that moment

Deep Encoding and Spaced Repetition

  • Review material to improve long-term retention
    • We forget in a week approx. 75% of what we’ve heard a week earlier
    • Practice “deep encoding”. It primarily comes from spaced repetition
  • “I was constantly trying to reinforce core ideas through a course of several years.”Jon Tyson
    • Keep hitting the same things over and over again
    • All people that educate well get this, “…re-focusing, emphasizing these things so they get from external into an internal component where they can carry them with them for the rest of their lives.” Jon Tyson

Preparing for “Moments”

  • Moments that kids will face as they go through puberty into adulthood, e.g. shaving, getting their first cellphone, driver’s license, etc.
    • How do you make these moments a part of a bigger picture?
    • Jon is a big believer in the book “Power of Moments” by Chip and Dan Heath
    • Your life is a series of defining moments that shape you (moments of pain or wounding)
    • Is it possible to consciously cultivate them, prepare in advance, and have a framework to deal with them?
  • “The memories that we form in our late teens and early twenties tend to be the strongest memories we carry our whole life.” Jon Tyson
    • We go through so many “firsts” in those periods and they convert in our long-term memory by the potency and novelty of the event
  • E.g., His son passed his driver’s license test in New York city
    • When he came back he didn’t even know if he passed or not, the instructor just gave him a sheet and a few tips
    • For Jon, this was a missed opportunity, it could’ve been a moment to remember but it had no impact on his son
    • How do you make these moments and use them in ways that bring healing and blessing to kids instead of wounds?
  • “You can blow a moment out into a lifetime memory by adding 15 or 20% more energy to it.”Jon Tyson
    • Just by adding a few more little details, you change the whole experience
    • A couple of dads flew in from Colorado to talk with Jon about his book
    • He bought a couple of bottles of very exquisite beverages, got them a box of Melanio cigars, and gave an elaborate presentation
    • He also let them keep the glasses they used for drinks so they remember the story every time they use them
    • He did it all for them to make a great and memorable experience
  • “I wanted to get a black belt in creating moments that shape people.”Jon Tyson 

Why Become a “Man”?

  • What men actually want is to become good at being a man; understanding money, being good at practical skills, having social skills to build relationships, knowing what it means to be a friend, etc.
    • “I think a lot of people today are living half of their lives because they’ve been shoved into these passionless scripts that they think this is what it means to be a man.”Jon Tyson 
    • There is nothing worse than standing in a room and feeling awkward; feeling like you aren’t good at anything, not knowing why you are here
  • To begin to logically and strategically break down the element of how to be a man in a world and tell someone they can do it produces a ton of confidence
    • You don’t fake it, you ask people who are better than you
    • No1 takeaway for his son is the mental framework that he can figure out and handle anything

Sometimes It All Gets a Bit Too Much

  • Consistency is more important than intensity
    • Build and maintain an emotional bond – it can bear any teenage rebellion
    • Doing something is better than nothing
  • If your kids are gone and you are feeling regret
    • It is never too late, don’t give up and move toward your kids slowly
Art of Manliness : , , , ,
Notes By Dario

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