In this short article we take a closer look at some basic skills for men. Roles in society have shifted however there are still a basic set of skills men should possess regardless of any ideologies.
What does it mean to “be a man”? In ancient times, that meant being able to hunt and bring home food for the family, or protect your family from threats. But in our modern age, the closest we get to actual “hunting for our food” is searching the supermarket aisles for a good deal or checking out Yelp reviews for a good place to eat. So how can we “be men” in a modern world where the traditional men activities are no longer necessary?
Being a man still means caring for your family (bringing home the bacon has changed to bringing home the paycheck), but there are a few other man skills that will help you prove that you really are as manly as you think you are.
Note: Read the Part 1 of this series to find out about other vital skills for men.
Here are a few more skills you need to master:
Using A Compass
Our ancestors had nothing but the position of the sun, moon, and stars to guide them. We have GPS systems to do the hard work for us.
But what do you do when you’re out in the middle of nowhere and have no idea how to get back to civilization? Perhaps you were out hiking and got lost, or your plane crashed in a deserted location. All you have is a compass and a general idea of where you are. So what do you do to get home?
Easy: use the compass to help you figure it out!
Reading a compass is a skill that is no longer taught to everyone. In fact, most men today have no idea how to use a compass to navigate.
There are many parts of a compass that will be important to learn if you are in a position where you are navigating terrain. But for a basic understanding here are the most important parts of a compass:
- Magnetized Needle – This needle will always point to the true north. It’s usually colored white or red.
- Orienting lines – These are lines on the compass that run along with the north-south lines on your map.
- Scale – These are the numbers etched into the compass housing, and they represent the degrees or bearing (also known as azimuth). You also have N, S, W, E for the four general directions.
- Direction-of-Travel Arrow – This is the arrow that shows you which way to go. For example, if you’re trying to head northwest, you turn the compass until the direction-of-travel arrow is pointing in the direction you want to go.
If you have a rough idea which way you want to go, the compass will make sure you stay on track. How?
Step 1: Find magnetic north. Stand with the compass flat in your hand and turn the rotating dial on the housing until the magnetic needle is aligned with the “N” on the dial. You have now found which way is magnetic north.
Step 2: Align the direction-of-travel arrow. Turn the dial until the direction-of-travel arrow is aligned with the direction you want to go. All you have to do is follow that arrow and keep taking your bearings to make sure you’re following the right direction.
This is the basics of navigating using a compass. You can learn a lot more about it from the following resources:
- How to use a compass by REI
- How to use a Compass Part 1 by Learn Orienteering
- How to use a Compass Part 2 by Learn Orienteering
Your compass can be used to determine altitude, general location, and even the time of day. It’s an incredibly useful tool you should ALWAYS have handy just in case!
Fun Fact: You can improvise your own compass using nothing but a steel sewing needle, a bowl-shaped leaf, and some water. Pour the water into the leaf and place the needle to float on the water. The needle will slowly turn into it is pointing to magnetic north. You can then use it to find your bearings and self-rescue!
Grilling a Steak
There is nothing more delicious than a perfectly-grilled steak. Whether you like it bloody, medium, or well-done, steak is the “man food” that puts a smile on our masculine faces. But you’ll find that cooking a steak is actually easier said than done!
Here are a few of the more common mistakes made when cooking steak:
- Charring the outside on high heat, which prevents the center from cooking.
- Serving the steak without letting it rest.
- Preparing the steak with sauces (BBQ, A1, etc.) before grilling.
- Not seasoning the steak.
All of these things will lead to your “man card” being revoked.
Anyone can cook a steak in a pan or skillet on a gas stove. But to be a true man, you have to know how to grill a steak. That means using either a charcoal or gas grill to prepare that beautiful piece of meat!
Charcoal vs. Gas Grills
This is an age-old debate, and one with no clear winner.
Charcoal grills infuse the meat with more flavor, but it can be difficult to regulate the temperature to prevent the meat from charring or burning while thoroughly cooking it.
Gas grills offer total control over the cooking process, but often lack flavor.
Which is better? For your first try, I’d recommend a charcoal grill. You need to learn how to cook the steak first before you master the more complex elements of grilling using a charcoal fire.
Note: Once you DO learn, however, it’s always better to go with a charcoal grill. The infusion of flavor is worth all the extra effort!
What Cut of Meat Should I Use?
Filet Mignon is a prime cut of beef with has very little fat, which means less flavor. However, it’s EXTREMELY tender, so you get a steak you can cut with a butter knife if cooked right. It’s a bit more complicated to cook than a regular steak, but once you master it, you can get a perfect medium rare every time.
Bone-in Rib-Eye is a tender cut with great marbling (fat), and will produce a beautifully juicy steak. The bone enhances the flavor of the meat. Downside: the bone makes the steak pricier while reducing the actual amount of meat you’ll get to enjoy.
Boneless Rib-Eye is equally tender, though with slightly less flavor due to the fact that there is no bone. However, more meat to eat! I can’t tell you how many of these I have cooked in my life and every single time I am in heaven.
Top Sirloin (not to be confused with regular sirloin) is a more economical choice, and one with less marbling than rib-eye and less tenderness than filet mignon. However, it’s a good “practice cut” to help you master steak cooking techniques before moving on to the expensive cuts.
A Step By Step Guide to Perfectly Grilled Steak
Follow this process precisely, and you will end up with the perfect steak every time!
Step 1: Season the meat. Pull the steak from the fridge 45 minutes before cooking and sprinkle rock/Kosher salt and pepper to season as desired. Make sure to rub the seasoning into both sides and set the steak on a plate to rest at room temperature.
Step 2: Get the grill BLOODY hot! High heat is a must, as it sears the outside of the steak and gives it that nice crust that makes it so delicious.
Step 3: Add oil. DO NOT use butter in this first step—butter burns more easily and will ruin your meat. Use oil with a high smoke point: vegetable or peanut oil will do nicely. Use a basting brush to apply a nice coat of oil to both sides of the steak.
Step 4: Place it on the grill. Place the steak on the grill and turn the heat down to medium-high. This will prevent the exterior from charring before the center is cooked.
Step 5: Turn every 2 minutes. After 2 minutes on one side, turn the steak and let it cook for 2 minutes on the other side. If you’re cooking a filet mignon, let it cook for 2 minutes per side.
Step 6: Cook down the fat. If your rib-eye or top sirloin has a strip of thick white fat along one edge, use tongs to cook that fat. Give it a couple of minutes to cook down before placing the steak back on the fire.
Step 7: Test for doneness. A 1-inch thick top sirloin will cook to medium rare in about 6 minutes (three flips). Rib-eyes will take about 8 minutes (four flips), as will a filet mignon. You can use a meat thermometer to take the temperature: the steak should be 120 F at the center. Or, simply give it the finger test to check its doneness. (Learn about the Finger Test on Simply Recipes…)
Step 8: Baste. On a grill, you can’t baste a steak the way you would in a pan. Melt a bit of butter in a bowl and add some salt, pepper, and thyme. Use a basting brush to apply a light coat before turning it over. Give it 1 minute per side.
Step 9: Rest. Once the steak reaches your desired doneness (determined according to the Finger Test), remove it from the grill and set it on a cutting board to rest for 10 minutes.
Step 10: Serve. Cut the meat into slices or serve it whole. You won’t need any BBQ or A1 sauce—the flavor of the meat, enhanced by salt, pepper, butter, and thyme, will be more than enough!
A man’s handshake says a lot about who he is. Knowing how to shake hands the write way is an important skill to master. It SHOULD be an easy skill, but it seems a lot of people aren’t quite clear on what constitutes a proper professional handshake:
Straight extension. Extend your hand STRAIGHT out to the level of their abdomen, not to the person’s waist or chest.
Solid grip. You aren’t supposed to crush their hand, but your hand isn’t a dead fish. Tighten the muscles in your hands, fingers, and forearms to have a solid grip without squeezing.
Eye contact. Handshakes are a way to “break the ice” and help you get to know someone. Eye contact is another form of body language that encourage connection and clear communication. Don’t stare, but meet their eyes as you shake their hand.
Friendly word of greeting. “Nice to meet you” is the standard greeting in the U.S., but you can say anything you want. The words of greeting are acknowledging them, speaking their name, and establishing clear communication.
One or two pumps. A handshake is a quick thing and involves one or two quick pumps. You’re not trying to wrench their arm off or pull them closer, and definitely don’t pump their hand five or six times. It just gets awkward!
Disengage. Don’t let that physical contact linger. Get in, shake the hand, and disengage.
- The British handshake is much lighter than the American or German handshake.
- In Turkey, firm handshakes are considered rude. Instead, hold the person’s hand for a few seconds without shaking.
- In China, light handshakes are accompanied by a slight bow but not direct eye contact.
- Moroccans only shake hands with members of their own gender.
- In Russia, men kiss women’s hands instead of shaking.
- Australian women don’t shake hands with other women.
- In Mexico, expect a hug to follow a handshake, especially if you are friendly with the person.
These are vital skills for men and will take you a long way in terms of the social side of your life. Take the time to practice reading a compass and even attend an outdoor school. Orienteering can be a fun family activity or just dad and the kids. , grilling steak, and shaking hands,