Da Vinci - Vitruve Luc ViatourDa Vinci — Vitruve Luc Viatour

Update: Check out the new companion video that compliments this article.

Throughout the ages, men of greatness have been referred to by many a name. These names hold values and virtues of masculinity portrayed by the men brave enough to earn their titles. It’s amazing how some of the greatest stories in the world (especially in mythology) embody men with key masculine traits. Just notice how words such as the following, conjure up scenes of great men in your mind now:

Emperor. Casanova. Knight. Renaissance man. Samurai. Hero. Adventurer. Philosopher.

Most of the “ancient” societies that they were raised in, embraced, encouraged, and actively taught the qualities that forged these men into who they were. Those not as fortunate, chose to force pressure upon themselves to become diamonds – rising from the dust of coal that their people so negatively casted upon them. Regardless of conditions, achievements, and recognitions; these men defined the qualites of what it meant to be a man in their age.

Fast-foward to the 21st century, where the lines of masculinity and femininity are blurred each and every day (and life is a lot less epic and swordless). Not only is it normal for men to embrace their feminine side, and women to take charge and assert their masculinity — it’s now “politically correct”. We’re coming from an age of hard lines and definitions, to an era where it’s okay to discover things for yourself – which is fantastic – but herein also lies a problem:

Men are confused.

Hell, let’s be honest: most of us are …and who can blame us? The bulk of modern western society does nothing but provide contradicting advice on how to be a real man, especially in regards to sexuality, dating, and relationships. Pop culture dating advice is atrocious, and even caused an underground movement of men to start figuring out what really works. This alone is a HUGE sign that these kind of traits/values/beliefs are tremendously lacking in most men’s lives.

There’s a tremendous lack of guidance on how to really live the life men want.

Why is this? Think about it. There’s no more “rite of passage” to become a man for most westerners; just government defined ages to prevent smoking and drinking, and academic graduations. On top of that, there are very few role models in the world (let alone in most young men’s lives) that they can actually learn from. For most men, their fathers are usually the biggest masculine influence growing up, and while I believe they honestly do their best rearing their sons, they’re not always the most excellent source to model.

If that wasn’t enough, take a look at the bigger picture: a lot of the education systems, governments, religions, and media sources are actually designed to disempower people. I bet if you’re here, reading this now, you probably know this on some level already. Yes, of course I’m generalizing tremendously (and maybe a taaad bit exaggerating), but I’m trying to stress a point:

For most men, there’s a tremendous lack of guidance on how to really live the life men want, and how to be the man they’re destined to be.

This causes a tremendous imbalance, and is apparent everywhere you look:

  • big macho men, overcompensating is some way
  • spineless guys getting walked over for being ‘nice’
  • corrupt CEOs obsessed with money
  • abusive relationships
  • working 80 hours a week at a job they hate
  • non-threatening, boring, average, joe shmoes
  • lifeless, passionless, directionless “grownup boys”
  • great guys with their life together, but still missing something

While those are just a few specific examples, I bet you can find a plethora of guys in your life that match all of those (admitted) stereotypes. The thing is, it’s not (completely) their fault — they’re doing the best with what they got, and are all trying to meet a positive need for themselves (albeit some in a negative way). Some don’t even know anything else — they think they’re doing the best they can — and, in their reality, they’re right.

And it’s OK. If they’re happy with their life, then great — there’s no ‘better than’ or ‘worse than’. People are where they are in their lives for a reason, whatever that may be. It doesn’t make anyone right or wrong, it just is. (While there is a chance these may even be polymen, and they just haven’t reached the more “enlightened” stage yet, let’s just assume they’re not for the sake of comparison).

So, what exactly is a polyman?

Now that you’re aware of the challenges men face, and the disparities between past and present (as well as what obviously isn’t a polyman), it’ll be much easier to understand what a polyman actually is – and what makes him so different.

First, the actual word “polyman”. The two influences on the word are ‘polymath’ and ‘man’.

  • polymath – (Greek polymathēs, πολυμαθής, “having learned much”) a person whose knowledge is not restricted to one subject area. Simply, one who knows a lot about a lot of things.
  • man – straightforward and simply; a man. The embodiment of masculinity, virility. The stage of a male after boyhood, after a rite of passage to manhood.

You might be connecting the dots by now, and if you’re starting to think that it’s quite similar to a renaissance man, but with a concentration on true virility… you’d be pretty damn close – and I’m not talking about “jack of all trades, master of none” either.

These are the guys that women dream about: “I want a real man with paradox x, paradox y, and paradox z all in one”. One of the few people you look at wondering to yourself: “wow, what it is they can’t do?”. The ones that grew up outcasted, but now have more real friends then some people even know. The guy that can be a ‘bad boy’, take control, and drive a woman ridiculously crazy in bed – yet still does genuinely care about all the beautiful women in his life (even his grandmother).

The guy that knows 3 languages (and actually uses them in the countries he visits) just for fun. The man who learns tango and yoga because he enjoys them, the culture, and their benefits – not (only) for the beautiful women that are in the class. The one that doesn’t try, he just is. The “dreamer” that’s crazy enough to think he can change the world… and actually is.

Here’s the kicker: these aren’t examples of different polymen – they all describe the same man.

Now don’t get all idealistic on me; the polyman isn’t perfect, and can’t 100% master everything in life – and he knows this. Instead, he strives for excellence in all the most important areas of his life. And while there are inherently areas and traits in life that are necessary to excel at [for a polyman], which specific things that are important, are completely up to him. This isn’t about setting boundaries or creating moulds that men have to fit into in order to be successful – it’s about attitudes and beliefs.

He is unapologetically masculine, and goes for what he wants.

He often fails small, but he doesn’t consider it failure – only feedback. He learns what he needs to from those experiences, so when he does win – he wins big. He is constantly learning what he needs to learn to become a better man, and loves the journey, knowing that being a polyman isn’t really about being a polyman – but about becoming one.

He is zen. He is fun. One with himself, and one with the world – he is a servant of others, and master of himself. The leader that inspires and protects, not orders and attacks. The peaceful warrior. The superior man. He aspires to create the best life(style) for others and himself, and will not tolerate mediocrity. With ridiculously high standards yet no expectations, he also knows there are times when ‘good enough’ is perfect, and 8020 is effective.

He is unapologetically masculine, and goes for what he wants without concern for approval. He is understanding and compassionate, yet he will say what needs to be heard, rather than what one wants to hear. He makes no excuses, and accepts no one else’s either. He lives with integrity and honesty in the face of ridicule and punishment. He is afraid, very afraid – yet has the courage to face it anyways.

A polyman is wise beyond his years, with the spirit of a child. He is the true balance of yin and yang, in-touch with both energies, and yet knows he is inherently masculine. Always clever; with a witty sense of humor, he is serious about life, but doesn’t take it too seriously. He builds and destroys, and accepts death as a part of life. Knowledge + observance = awareness; the first tool used by the polyman in catalyzing the change he embraces. He is not always all these things all the time, but is aware when he is not, and is always striving to the be his best.

The polyman is a paradox; an absence of duality. He lives his purpose. He is a real man.

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