Men's Career Issues
By Marty Nemko
Most career issues apply to both sexes, but here are my thoughts on some men’s career issues.
Used wisely, male aggressiveness is a strength
Do not listen to those who say aggressiveness is a bad characteristic, to be repressed into an embracing of passivity and teamwork. Use your aggressiveness as a wise warrior would use a weapon: its power can greatly benefit you, your employer, and the world, but it must be used judiciously, sometimes even surreptitiously.
Do not confuse aggressiveness with anger
Angry people are usually unsuccessful in the workplace and may place their health at risk. If you find yourself angry at someone, replace your fury with empathy that that flawed person is probably doing the best he or she can. Be grateful you are more capable.
If you are angry at your life’s situation, remember that if you are living in America and not in chronic pain or late-stage terminal illness, your life is probably better than 95+% of people on the planet. Fortune has smiled upon you. Go through life with a spirit of gratitude.
Do not uncritically accept that you should be the primary breadwinner
Each couple must discuss this openly. In being the primary breadwinner, are you forced to take a job that makes you unhappy or overly stressed? Would you be much happier in a lower paying job? Are you staying in a distasteful job merely to afford nicer housing? Is it worth it? Should your wife assume more of the financial responsibility even if she’s not at home as much with the kids? (The evidence is equivocal on whether stay-at-home moms’ kids do better.) Should you do more of housework? The parenting? Fortunately, there are no rules—there is no more “men’s work” or “women’s work.” Each couple should craft for themselves the division of labor that best accommodates both spouses’ strengths and preferences.
Consider non-traditional careers
Some traditionally female careers are unusually rewarding: nurse, librarian, teacher, editor, graphic designer, for example. And in the case of nursing, the job market is good and salaries high. A real man chooses a career that feels right for him without worrying that it’s not a “manly” career.
Consciously decide how you want to react to reverse discrimination
No employer will admit it publicly, but in many although certainly not all workplaces, women receive favoritism in hiring and promotion over men who are more competent and willing to work longer hours.
You could try a lawsuit, but that is very chancy and exhausting. Or you could make a career of changing conventional wisdom that reverse discrimination is a net good.
If you don’t want to pursue either of those options, get over it. Reverse discrimination is a fact of life today. It’s bad enough you may be treated unfairly. There’s no need to let it destroy your peace of mind. That reminds me of the story of Massoud and Tarik on camels in the middle of the desert. Suddenly a marauder gallops up, robs them of their money and gallops away. Massoud is distraught while Tarik remains calm. Massoud sputters, “How can you stay calm?” Tarik replied, “He stole my money. I won’t let him also steal my peace of mind.”
Men die six years younger than women, and it seems that more men than women in their mid- to late 50s show significant decline in physical and mental capability. Some of the cause is probably physiological—the current theory is that estrogen protects.
But you do have some control. Because men are at-risk of earlier decline, it’s especially important that men do what they can to forestall aging and disease. I’m not telling you anything new here, but perhaps this is a wakeup call to get serious about controlling your weight, not smoking, drinking no more than moderately, and doing regular moderate exercise. Science is finding that your mother, in the end may have been right: Walking may be the best exercise.
I’d also recommend thinking twice about any extreme diet, including low-carb. Like most fads that preceded low-carb diets, anything extreme too often ends up having unwanted side effects. And even in terms of weight loss, a recent study found that although for the first six months, low-carb dieters lose more than dieters on balanced low-calorie diets. But after a year, they’re equal. See your doctor before beginning any diet, but you may be on the safest ground by following the just-released FDA guidelines that rejects low-carb diets in favor of a well-balanced diet: not too many carbs, not too few. Focus on whole-grain rather than refined-grain carbs. Eat lots of fruits and veggies. Keep your calories down by avoiding high-fat foods.
Advice I’d Give My Child
Today, men are often portrayed as lesser than women. Textbooks, college professors, sitcoms, movies, even newspaper and magazine features tend to portray women as the good guys and men as testosterone-poisoned boors, crooks, or abusers.
The fact is that most men are hard working, goal-oriented, and straight-shooting. The world needs both men and women. Don’t forget it.
© Marty Nemko 2004-2018. Usage Rights