Nowadays, masculinity is no longer strictly defined by the traditional values of unflinching stoicism and steely-eyed grit. Which is exactly why Zegna wanted to investigate what “makes” a man.
The Italian luxury fashion house recently approached BH to help them get to the bottom of things. Taking to Instagram, we asked you to describe what it means to be a man going into the next decade – using a single word.
The ensuing response was tremendous. So without further ado, we’re proud to present the most popular and definitive characteristics for what it means to be a man in 2020.
Our existence on this strange, blue cosmic marble has been purely by chance. And our survival has only endured through connecting with one another in a meaningful way. The lesson here? Kindness is free but surprisingly rewarding.
Treating that of which surrounds you with the common courtesy they deserve – other human beings, the physical environment, ideas – is the mark of a true man in 2020.
The conviction to own up to your deeds and stand by your actions is in short supply these days. If you’ve committed to doing something, you should be committed enough to see it through all the way home.
Every single organism experiences some form of progression. Growth and change are integral to living from a biological level. And the very seeds of growth for a modern man is ambition. No one remembered in history ever did so on the idea of “good enough”. If you’re not aiming too high, you’re aiming too low.
Wearing your beliefs on your sleeve is something that many shy away from for fear of social persecution. The only way to navigate through the white noise and feedback of all that is unnecessary is to have a strong, principled compass.
We often talk about respect for others. But what about respect for oneself? Dignity, in its essence, is about carrying yourself in a manner that’s worthy of admiration. How that manifests outwardly is entirely up to you.
As time goes on, you come to realise that things are never as linear as they were meant to be. Setbacks will be inevitable. What defines your character is how you respond to these setbacks – how you rise to the challenge and choose to face the given adversity.
In the words of the ancient Delphic texts, know thyself. Not in the sense a twenty-something gets to find themselves during a European trip with Contiki. But in the sense of who you are and who you yourself want to be – regardless of what anyone else wants you to be. Self-awareness is what allows you to consolidate your strengths, as well as developing an answer for your weaknesses.
Being a man in 2020 also means admitting when you’re not OK. To be open and honest in an emotional sense, unafraid to metaphorically bleed raw. Remember, being vulnerable isn’t the opposite of being strong. It just makes you human.
All good things take time. And the discipline to recognise that, to remain consistent with the process despite no signs of an immediate pay-off, is a display of maturity. Something else that defines a man in the current era. It’s all about the long-term.
While it’s important to keep your head high, it’s just as important to know when to bow it down. After all, we’re all born from the same basic materials. One day, we’ll all revert back to the same basic materials, all the way to the dirt. None of us is really special enough to warrant all-encompassing superiority. Act accordingly.
The courage to be who you are, the courage to stand for something, the courage to walk out that door – day after day – and take on the world. Masculinity as we know it today, no matter how your personal definition may vary, all stems from courage.
This article is proudly presented in partnership with Zegna. Thank you for supporting the sponsors who help make Boss Hunting possible.