Who is Mr. Cool?
(Naturally, Mrs. Cool exists too, but this post is about the typical masculine persona that we men so frequently quest after.)
Mr. Cool is smart. He’s funny. Unreasonably handsome. Chiseled bod. He’s good at everything. Everyone likes him. Especially women. Specifically hot women. He knows just about everything. He’s better than most everybody. He’s almost always right. He’s basically infallible.
He doesn’t exist.
But that doesn’t stop us from trying to embody him.
We strive for this fictitious, unattainable level of competence, beauty, and perfection. See wikipedia on The Competent Man.
And in this endeavor, we compare ourselves to a measure that has its basis far outside of reality. We contrast our qualities and flaws with those of invented characters in books, movies, and TV shows, none of whom do or could actually exist.
And when we compare ourselves to something we perceive as perfect, we fall miserably short. We can’t compare to these hollywood people, these people without zits, these people who make no mistakes, who are multi-talented, well liked, who can come up with the best lines off the top of their heads.
But these people aren’t perfect. In fact, they’re not real.
In fact, their zits are photoshopped. Their mistakes are washed away in the next take. Their talents are exaggerated, their popularity lonely, and their lines scripted.
We live in a world where men are compared to Mr. Cool, where a beach body, cool sunglasses, and great pickup line outweigh the value of work ethic, integrity, and compassion.
When we deify this commercialized version of a man, we jeopardize the essence of what manhood is about.
And we try to be Mr. Cool.
But nobody likes Mr. Cool. No woman actually wants to be married to Mr. Cool. Mr. Cool doesn’t make a very good father, a good brother, or a good friend. Our attempts at being cool result in the alienation of everyone around us. When we must always be right, pretend to know it all, we break trust in the relationships around us. When we walk with an air of superiority, we generate ill-will with our peers. When we treat women like things and not people, we defy the nature of our souls.
You see, Mr. Cool, the guy that the TV tells you that you should be? He’s missing a few things.
Things like integrity.
I want to leave you with 3 tricks to slaying Mr. Cool.
1. Give yourself permission to admit you don’t know.
If you don’t know something, say so. Even if you’re supposed to know something and don’t, admit it. The respect garnered by having the courage and integrity to admit that you don’t know is invaluable.
Mr. Cool pretends he knows everything, even when he doesn’t. He makes things up that sound convincing, hoping nobody sees through the hoax. Someone always will.
We do this because we’re afraid that we don’t know as much as everyone else. “What if I’m the only one who’s not cool?”
Look around you. Do you expect your peers to know everything?
Bottom line, nobody can long criticize you when you’re saying “I don’t know. Will you teach me?”
2. Congratulate others on their cool.
Sounds counterproductive, but I assure you, this is a very powerful tool.
Cool things exist. Cool people exist. In fact, we’re all loaded with cool.
Mr. Cool insists on bringing attention to his own cool, making sure that everyone is aware of just how cool he is.
One of the most surefire ways to stop this behavior is to make a point of telling other people what’s good about them.
Don’t be shy. Tell your coworkers, tell your spouse, your kids, your waitress.
“Hey, you did a great job on that project last week.”
“That was a really good presentation, and I could tell you did a lot of preparation.”
“I really enjoy working with you, your great work ethic and positive attitude are awesome.”
“Thanks for this wonderful meal, you are a great cook.”
“This drawing is maybe the best one you’ve done. You’re a natural artist.”
Make it true. Don’t make things up. There are good things about everybody. Find one.
Be specific. A generic “You’re so wonderful” doesn’t make anyone feel good.
Be personal. Don’t say to them what you want to hear. Make sure you’re pointing out something that’s a personal bit of cool for that person.
3. Love yourself anyway.
The Mr. Cool Myth is based on our societal understanding that we, as people, are not good enough. As such, we must strive to be perfect, like Mr. Cool.
I have my own definition of perfect. It might not be in Webster’s, but it’s served me pretty well.
Perfect. Needing no further improvement.
Needing no further improvement to be worthy, loved, and enough.
I believe that we all fit this definition.
Will we grow? Yes.
Will we learn? Yes.
But we are, and have always been, perfect.
With your zits, you are worthy.
With your own flawed body, you are loved.
And even without knowing everything, and having a hundred skills and talents, and having biceps like a bear, you are enough.
In a world where every person is a chick, swarming around the mama hen for a tiny morsel of appreciation, you have a choice.
You can be a little chick fighting for a scrap of cool, or you can be the mama hen doling it out. You choose.