Lewis Howes with his new book, The Mask of Masculinity:


Redefine what it means to be a man.

  • Be aware and nurture your purpose, your visions and dreams.
  • And that will allow you to be affective with what you bring back into the world.

Masks men wear:

  • Stoic
  • Athlete
  • Material
  • Sexual
  • Agressive
  • Joker
  • Invincible
  • Know-it-all
  • Alpha

We can address these masks and come to terms with these parts of your life, so you don’t have to be so triggered to wear these masks.

Masks work. But don’t give you genuine connection to yourself or others.

To have better harmony in any relationship, women can be more aware of why men wear certain masks and how that affects relationships, especially intimate ones.

Life is not about the “big result”, it’s about the little connections and victories that impacted someone. Take time to appreciate those things everyday.

For men, expressing what you feel is vital for connection and understanding of your life and the people around you.

Shift your why, for anything that you do in your life.

Show Transcription

[00:38] Welcome to The Ziglar Show, where we inspire your true performance. I’m your host Kevin Miller and today we’re talking about…Masculinity. Why? Our guest Lewis Howes claims the majority of stress, anxiety, and pressure men feel is due to the masks they wear. Think of it as…certain personas we fall or buy into, and get trapped in. Then live from…in a limited fashion. I feel the topic may not at first sound like something you’ll be excited to listen to. But the question is…do you have any stress or anxiety? Do you feel any pressure? Would you like to be free of it? If that sounds attractive, then you should be ecstatic to listen to this discussion today. Do you wear the mask of know-it-all, stoic, aggression? And ladies, though the masks may be geared toward the guys, you have your own and will get great value here. Let me fill you in on Lewis real quick…

[01:41] Lewis began life with a learning disability, which led to being alone and bullied in school, to being sexually abused as a child, to being injured and broke on his sister’s couch, Lewis’s story is a significant example of how someone can overcome the obstacles in their life and achieve greatness. Fast forward a few short years, and Lewis is a New York Times Bestselling author of the hit book, The School of Greatness. He is a lifestyle entrepreneur, high performance business coach and keynote speaker. A former professional football player and two-sport All-American, he is a current USA Men’s National Handball Team athlete. He hosts a top 100 podcast in the world, The School of Greatness, which has over 40 million downloads since it launched in 2013. He was recognized by The White House and President Obama as one of the top 100 entrepreneurs in the country under 30. Lewis has been featured on Ellen, The New York Times, People, Forbes, Inc, Fast Company, ESPN, Sports Illustrated, Men’s Health, The Today Show and other major media outlets.

[02:37] Fun fact, a few months ago I was set to interview Chris Guillibeau,486 and 487, author of multiple books, such as The Art of Nonconformity, $100 Start Up, and most recently, “Side Hustle”.  The day before our scheduled interview he really apologetically texts me and says, “Kevin, I’m so sorry, Lewis Howes has a big event in Ohio tomorrow and his keynote speaker came down ill. It’s 5am and I’m boarding a plane in Portland to jet out and fill in!” That’s how I was connected to Lewis, and I’m far the better for it!

[03:09] Connect with Lewis at “The School of Greatness” podcast, you’ll find it at the top of the podcast charts. You can get his bestselling book The Mask of Masculinity wherever you buy books, but at lewishowes.com you can get it and see what else he has for you!

[05:02] With no further ado then, here I bring you, the great Lewis Howes!

[05:11] The Mask of Masculinity is sitting right now in the top 1,000 of all books in Amazon. Let’s lead off with your big question, “What does it mean to be a man??” or is that even fair to ask? Is it better to ask you. What do you most want to say to men across the globe?

[05:40] I think it’s unfortunate how the timing of this book because so much is happen in the world just in the last couple months alone, with all the shootings, with all the bombings, with all the sexual harassment, with all of that domestic violence, with all the political disease and the common denominator is men, that are leading this way in the media. All these things are coming about due to an angry man or defensive man or men that don’t know and express themselves in healthier forms and so many people are like wow how did you time this perfectly to have a book about you know men opening up and learning how to express themselves and healing from the past, which is typically the reason for defensiveness, the reason for needing to win at all cost, the needing to be right at all costs, the need to fight and get angry is something that we’re holding on to or we feel like we need to do because that’s what masculinity is for, that’s what it means to be a man; don’t back down, don’t show emotions, do this at all costs like have all the power in the world, all these different things come from our false sense of what society has told us is cool or is acceptable or what a man is or what masculine is and all the different instances in our life that continue to prove this to be true. And so I think there’s a big awareness that’s happening right now because of the media and all these things are coming out about men who are causing a lot of these challenges in the world. And so you know it’s unfortunate how fortunate the timing is because I would rather not have all these challenges but it’s also good to have the awareness, so people can start being mindful of ok here is the reaction of someone, not as man or woman but as a human.

[11:10] Now what do you want women to know about men?

[11:25] I think men and intimate partnerships with women want to make sure that, I think men are heavily influenced by the actions, the decisions, and the energy, and the words of women especially in an intimate partnership and I think men or women are are influenced in a massive way. And in a relationship we want our partners to be happy and when they’re not happy, we try to figure out how can we make them happier because that’s what we want. We want them to be feeling good feeling safe protected her happy. So I want women to be aware and understand that they also have influence over men’s actions, over man’s words, and energy and sometimes it’s conflicting for men to want to show emotion if a woman freaks out on them when they’re breaking down. And says why I need you to be strong in this moment because I’m breaking breaking down. So you can’t be as sensitive or emotional because I need to be this and so I think women just need to be aware of why men wear certain ,masks and when you can be aware of it first and then I believe you have different tools and understanding of how to communicate effectively to the men in your life whether it be an intimate partner, your father, your brother, your children, your son. And understanding OK why does my father not looking in the eyes, why did my son’s never open up, why is my husband, why is he always stoic or why is he always used humor. We can start to be aware of these things and learn to communicate in different ways, that’s what it’s all about. How can we have more harmony as opposed to be disconnected in relationships.

[13:15] Your big contention is that men are NOT being themselves. Why? What is the biggest cause? The culture or our parents or just faulty wiring?

[13:25] I believe men are wearing masks to try to fit and to try to be accepted in society. I mean I’ve done it my whole life. I wore a lot of mask, the athlete mask, the stoic mask, material mask, the sexual mask, I wore them all at some point and I do that I did them and do them, still to try to belong, to try to fit in, to try to be accepted, try to be seen as worthy, valuable and the challenge is that these masks they work, they get us big results. When I wore the athlete mask my whole life I was committed to being the best athlete that I could be, I was committed to winning because winning gave me self-worth. And it worked, I want a lot. I was driven to achieve and I got big results. The challenge is I didn’t want to turn it off when I lost, I was the worst loser. And then everything in my relationships in my life became a competition and needed to win to prove my value in all instances whether I’m doing a thumb wrestling war with my girlfriend, it was like I had to dominate you know whether it’s just like a silly little game playing Yahtzee or something you know it’s like yeah I was everything was about winning. And it’s not affective and in building quality meaningful relationships when everyone around you has to lose in order for you to feel worthy.

[18:58] What do you think is behind men being born, or bred, to have to prove ourselves?

[19:22] I mean my whole life I wanted to prove myself that I matter that I could fit in and that I was worthy of having friends, that I was worthy of making the sports teams, that I was a worthy enough businessman to like be on stages or be in the room with the right people. I think it came down to a lack of again in your piece I was always fearful and stressed out that I didn’t matter enough. And it’s a challenging balance because we want to fit and we want to feel like we were the worthy, we want to feel like we matter and it’s hard when we don’t get that validation to be like oh I still matter, even though people didn’t like want me in the club or whatever that it will not stage, but I still matter. But when we focus on our vision and we focus on making an impact as opposed to was I knowledge for the impact that I made, I believe over time we’re going to get that acknowledgements. And to focus on the little wins you know I got a few e-mails this morning from even though I didn’t hit you know my book came out a few weeks ago and a big thing for author is to hit the New York Times bestseller list. It’s like the the thing you always look for right and we didn’t hit it this time my last book we hit it and it was a great feeling, and this time when it hit you know we had the sales, and had the press and everything else for whatever reason they didn’t make it. And for a moment I was like that kind of sucks, you know quite a lot of energy and something, you want to be acknowledged, you want to you know get that result. And I said to myself Look at all the good we are doing, look at all the impact, and today I woke up and I had a bunch of emails from men who were just like I went through the book and I realize so much about my life what’s been holding me back, I cried three times throughout the book, this I understand why I’ve been so this way, I want to know why been defensive, I understand why my relationship has been crumbling and now I have a sense of peace where I can go out my life and take action on a more powerful way. And so I focus on the impacts not the big results and I think that’s the challenge a lot of people have.

[26:20] We are enamoured with superheroes and billionaires and celebrity athletes. What is and should be inspiring about their achievements, but then…what myths do they perpetuate?

[26:42] Yeah absolutely, I mean I’m all for making as much money as want to make, I’m all for achieving what you want to achieve, being the best in the world at your particular thing. I’m all for it, but we see a ton of examples where those that make it are still suffering and struggling in other ways. And I think Jim Carey said the quote something along this line that I wish everyone could become rich and famous and realize it’s not the key to happiness or something like that and then people who aren’t rich and famous will be like well it’s easier for you to say you know but let I’d rather be rich and famous than like poor and suffering. We all face our own struggles and demons no matter what level or at and I think that’s why we get to constantly be aware of what is working for us what’s not working.

[28:31] So a big premise of the book is that men are taught to stuff their feelings…or at least the weak, doubtful, non cool ones, but you cite that many of the true successful men don’t. And that we can get info on WHAT to do… But that doesn’t translate into knowing…how to do it. We are great at doing, and can change and adapt what we DO. if we understand how. Be more compassionate. Got it. Uh…how?

[29:29] The compassion comes from place of listening as opposed to trying to fix and truly when someone is sharing something vulnerable, just being a listening giving heart as opposed to and really showing interest looking them in the eye as being present not like a creepy way but like being mindful and present. Not just start coaching them right away what you need to fix it this way, you need to step up and quit being like lazy, quit being this could be and this come from a place of OK, this is a different I need to step in their shoes. I come from a different place. Usually I would just tell someone to suck it up and get it done right like being a little, this could be a little that just suck it up and get results, go take action, that’s the uncompassionate way and sometimes someone means that you know if they’re constantly coming to you saying the same thing over and over again for months, it’s time to like OK I’ve heard this. I’ve been compassionate, I’ve been listening to you, now we’ve got to get some results and move past this you know conversation. There’s a level of listening and a level of saying well farm in their shoes that how, what I feel and that’s where it starts with.

[31:43] In speaking of some true top performers you revered, you said “they weren’t stuffing their feelings back down inside themselves. They were aware of them, explored them, questioned them. And from dealing with them, they found a kind of emotional strength and fuel.” Then you go on to say in your own journey, “I wanted to go beyond exploration and understanding and really figure out how to fix this stuff, so that I could grow and become a better man. So I could use whatever was bothering me as fuel to grow.” Is that the hope? That what is bothering us men…can be soil and fertilizer to grow into our fruition?

[32:50] I think when we don’t talk about these things when we don’t address these things or even just write them down or share with one person. I feel like we neglect those feelings and when we start to use them and share them we release it, we feel connected to other people, we feel like understood by the people, we feel like we can relate and it doesn’t just bottle up inside so I think it’s a matter of expressing some of these things in a way that most of us men haven’t been conditioned or understood how to do affectively. And when we start to do it we still a lightness, we feel a sense of pressure going off our shoulders.  

[35:26] What is the most tangible and critical consequence in daily life of men wearing the masks?

[35:57] Those are Stress, anxiety, pressure all of it.

[36:09] You then ask, what mask are we each wearing? What are we pretending to be?

You list nine common masks of masculinity:

  1. The stoic mask
  2. The athlete mask
  3. The material mask
  4. The sexual mask
  5. The aggressive mask
  6. The joker mask
  7. The invincible mask
  8. The know-it-all mask
  9. The alpha mask

As I read through them, I had to admit that at a fairly decent level, I wear them all. So, interviews over, I’m going home to crawl in a home now…

[36:42] There’s a couple dominant ones I think every man wears but I think for me I’ve won them all at some point in my life maybe not all right now but there’s definitely two or three that I wear more frequently than others. And you know I’m not like the Joker mascot you know when it’s there where some of these the invincible masks of like where you know what I used to when I played football I was like I can do anything, I can take on any challenge physically. S o it just kind of the pains I think on the season of our life.

[38:56] So let’s walk through these, I want to ask for an example of each, character or real, and the main cause for putting this mask on:

[39:27] The stoic mask: I think the stoic mask is really the guy that is always got to put together who’s doesn’t show much emotion that when there’s a challenge happening he’s stoic, he’s emotionless, he’s got it all bottled up inside, he’s the strong one. And you know you see that in a lot of like fathers who are like got it together when everything is a chaos just like shows no emotion. The challenges that stoic mask can lead to a lot of complications but we don’t express ourselves at all. It blows up in some way, it manifests through a heart attack, manifest or something else or maybe at some point just getting angry all at once because you’ve got to let that emotion out sometimes.

[40:25] The athlete mask: You know for me, I live with that was constituted to prove myself through my athletic abilities, you know getting picked on getting bullied. When I was in third grade, I was picked last on a dodge ball game on recess and I said to myself never again will I get picked last. So I am gonna become so big, so strong, so valuable that people want to pick me first. And I was an example of me doing that for the rest of my you know from a whole life where I was like I’ve got to become so valuable to prove myself worth. But athlete masks you know these guys lead into other masks, the invincible masks things like that will give you that second but the athlete mask. It’s also a sense of like need to win at all costs the athlete mask you know are there many your lives that need to win at all costs.

[41:18] The material mask: The man that’s constantly has to show off all the houses, all the nice cars, all the nice watches, every photo is showing off how much money he has. Talking about it all the time and putting his self-worth in material things. Again nothing wrong with making as much as you want, having a private jet, all these things but when every post on social media is showcasing it all, then the shoes are something beneath that that you’re trying to prove.

[41:50] The sexual mask: This is the man that every woman desires but will never get into a serious committed relationship. The man that talks about all the women that he slept with, hooked up with or brags about it constantly what is underneath that, why are you talking about those conquests, why is one woman never enough, why as these things, why do you face these things, what are these challenges, what’s the painter beneath that.

[42:21] The aggressive mask: Again some of that is constantly aggressive in their actions and their words. Their energy and a man who is just reactive guy was always reactive and aggressive.

[42:35] The joker mask: The guy who always has to say a joke, always leads with humour even in sensitive situations, he doesn’t express himself in that vulnerable way. So he says a joke to lighten the mood. Nothing wrong with humour as other won with being funny and slightly wrong with like making things enjoyable and lights. But once when you’re at a funeral and you’ve got to tell a knock knock joke because you can’t be with your feelings and emotions something’s underneath that.

[43:04] The invincible mask: The guy who takes all the risks in the world, who puts his life on the line constantly, who puts his business on the line, who is gambling, who is doing all these other things because he believes that he’s invincible something usually underneath that.

[43:22] The know-it-all mask: The guy who has all the answers, the guy who has, who is always right, the guy who gets multiple degrees because one bachelor degree isn’t enough. He goes for the Master’s and the PHD and then talks about his degrees and uses his intelligence to influence people and prove his self-worth

[43:46] The alpha mask: The guy that again is constantly needing to be right, the guy who costly needs to be right in all situations. You know when we live from a place of I’m right at all the time than everyone else is wrong and that’s a very lonely place when you’re the only one who’s right. And instead how can we come from a place of win win, where we’re both right, where we’re both don’t feel like we’re losers in the situation.

[44:24] If there was one, overarching perspective…understanding you could give men to help them discard their masks…what would it be?

[44:58] You know these masks they work for us, sometimes they work for us in a big way wearing the outfit mask work for me. I got great as an athlete, the challenges my why just needs to shift. Why do I want to be a great athlete? It was to prove these kids wrong about me, it was to prove that I was valuable, it was to make myself look good and it worked, it got me results, but it left me feeling very empty inside it when I would get these results. So instead of shifting that why what I want to be a great athlete are doing because I love it because it’s fun for me, because it’s brings me a lot of joy, passion, because it inspires me to improve, because it inspires other people as well I get to showcase something and make an impact on other people very different than I’m doing this to prove those kids wrong. I’m doing this to look good, I’m doing this to make money, so I feel valuable. When we shift our reason for why we’re doing something then we don’t have to like it reactive or get hurt or get frustrated, if something doesn’t go away we just get back to our vision. And same thing with like OK I want to make a lot of money to prove those people wrong about me. I want to make a lot of money to, because I’m living in fear, because I feel like I’m broke, because of this and this and instead I want to make a lot of money, because I’ll be able to help more people, because I want to live a certain lifestyle, I want to have more flexibility on, have more freedom. So it’s just like figuring out coming from a better why a better more impactful why as opposed to a negative why and that’s what you need to focus on.

[51:08] So friends, ready to shed some masks? I know I am…such a convicting topic. Connect with Lewis at “The School of Greatness” podcast, you’ll find it at the top of the podcast charts. You can get his bestselling book The Mask of Masculinity wherever you buy books, but at lewishowes.com you can get it and see what else he has for you! Coming up next in show 523, we go behind the scenes with Lewis in our Habits show to find out what his daily habits for success are. Some highlights: He’s a fan of high intensity interval training, thinks nutrition is everything, he meditates every morning, he grew up in the christian religion and today ascribes to the religion of…love. He feels his own podcast, interviewing the greats like we do on the Ziglar show is his best education and testing ground, and he’s an avid salsa dancer! What may interest you most though is his discussion of “the millionaire morning!” So till then, thank you for letting me walk with you, as we inspire our true performance, together!