There is no truer statement: men are simple. Get this into your head first, and everything you learn about us in this book will begin to fall into place. Once you get that down, you'll have to understand a few essential truths: men are driven by who they are, what they do, and how much they make. No matter if a man is a CEO, a CON, or both, everything he does is filtered through his title (who he is), how he gets that title (what he does), and the reward he gets for the effort (how much he makes). These three things make up the basic DNA of manhood-the three accomplishments every man must achieve before he feels like he's truly fulfilled his destiny as a man. And until he's achieved his goal in those three areas, the man you're dating, committed to, or married to will be too busy to focus on you.
Think about it: from the moment a boy is born, the first thing everyone around him starts doing is telling him what he must do to be a real man. He is taught to be tough-to wrestle, climb, get up without crying, not let anyone push him around. He is taught to work hard-to do chores around the house, get the groceries out of the car, take out the trash, shovel the snow, cut the grass, and, as soon as he's old enough, get a job. He is taught to protect-to watch out for his mother and his younger siblings, to watch over the house and the family's property. And he is especially encouraged to uphold his family name-make something of himself so that when he walks in a room, everybody is clear about who he is, what he does, and how much he makes. Each of these things is taught in preparation for one thing: manhood.
The pursuit of manhood doesn't change once a boy is grown. In fact, it's only magnified. His focus has always been on, and will remain on, who he is, what he does, and how much he makes until he feels like he's achieved his mission. And until a man does these things, women only fit into the cracks of his life. He's not thinking about settling down, having children, or building a home with anyone until he's got all three of those things in sync. I'm not saying that he has had to have made it, but at least he has to be on track to making it.
This is certainly how it worked for me. I'll never forget how disappointed, frustrated, and unhappy I was when, in my early twenties, I was laid off from the Ford Motor Company. I was already a college dropout, and now, without a job, I hardly had enough money to take care of myself, much less a family. This left me unsure of my future-what I was going to do, how much I was going to make, and what my title would be. The titles "college graduate" and "Ford inspector" were gone; having no job pretty much meant that my chances of bringing home a good paycheck were zero; and I hadn't a clue how I was going to make money. It took me a while to find my footing. I dabbled in various jobs: I owned a carpet cleaning business; I sold carpet; I sold Amway products, the Dick Gregory Bahamian Diet, and ALW Insurance and Commonwealth Insurance. It was madness what I was doing to try to get my life together. Finding someone serious to settle down with was the absolute last thing on my mind.
Then, one night a woman for whom I used to write jokes encouraged me to go to a local comedy club and sign up for amateur night. See, I knew I was funny, and I made a few dollars-very few dollars-writing material for up-and-coming local comedians who were trying to find their way into the industry. But I hadn't a clue, really, how to go about getting into the business for myself. Still, this woman saw something in me and told me to take the stage.
So I did. And I killed. I won $50-which today may not seem like a lot of money, but when I was broke at that time, it felt like $5,000-for telling jokes. I also was guaranteed another fifty dollars if, as the winner, I opened the following week's amateur night competition. The next day, I went to a printer and spent fifteen dollars of my winnings on business cards that, along with my phone number, read: Steve Harvey. Comedian. They were flat and flimsy and didn't have any raised lettering, but those business cards announced that I was Steve Harvey (who I am), and that I had a special talent in comedy (what I do). How much I was going to make remained to be seen, but at least I had the "who I am" and the "what I do" lined up.
If men aren't pursuing their dreams-if we're not chasing the "who we are," the "what we do," and the "how much we make," we're doomed. Dead. But the moment that we figure out the puzzle and feel like our dreams are taking shape, new life breathes into us-it makes us vibrant, enthuses, and animates us. From the moment I became a comedian, I stepped onto that stage ready to be the very best.
Even today, no matter how tired I am, no matter what is going on in my life, I am never late for work, and I've never once missed a gig. Why? Because when I wake up, my dream is in check; I'm living it out live and in color every day, whether it's on the radio during the Steve Harvey Morning Show, or on television with my various projects, or onstage, during my Steve Harvey Live shows. Who I am is certain-I'm Steve Harvey. What I do is certain: comedy. And how much I make is right in line with what I've always wanted for my family and me.
Excerpted from Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man by Steve Harvey Copyright © 2009 by Steve Harvey. Excerpted by permission.
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