100 Skills every Ole Bull should know - The Art of Manliness

Posted by Miles Tinsley on

It’s been fodder for many a heated debate among men for centuries.

What skills should every man know?

A vast amount of ink and e-ink has been spilled on the subject. But why?

Part of being a man is being competent and effective in the world. To do that, you’ve got to have skills. A man wants to know (or at least feel like he knows) that no matter what situation he’s placed in, he’ll be able to handle himself — to act rather than be acted upon. Hence our incessant drive to figure out what skills we’ll need to know in order to demonstrate confidence and capability in our manly roles as procreators, protectors, andproviders.

For primitive man, this needed skill-set was clear and relatively narrow, largely revolving around the jobs of fighting and hunting.

The breadth of skills needed today, however, is much wider. The modern man must be both a warrior and a diplomat, a woodsman and a scholar. We need both hard skills and soft skills; skills we use every day and skills we keep in the back pocket, just in case.

We’ve covered many of these skills over the years on the Art of Manliness, and so figured it was time to add our contribution to the collective cultural enterprise of figuring out which skills a well-rounded, grown man should have. Below you’ll find the AoM list of 100 skills every man should know.

1. Tie a Necktie

Even in our casual culture where hoodies are appropriate attire for billionaire CEOs, every man should know how to tie a tie. Funerals, weddings, and job interviews are just a few occasions when a sharp necktie is appropriate, and you’ll be attending plenty of those during your adult life. You don’t want to be the 30-something who needs to ask his mom to tie his tie for him.

2. Build a Campfire

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There’s a primordial link between men and fire. While it’s no longer necessary for our survival, man’s connection to fire still exists. It’s both exhilarating and calming, dangerous and assuring. There’s nothing like sitting around a crackling fire under a starry sky while poking the embers with a stick and meditating on the big questions in life. Just for those reasons alone a man should know how to build a fire. But it’s also vital to know so you can build a fire while camping in order to cook a solid meal for yourself and those with you. Using Duraflame logs is a cardinal sin that will automatically send you to outer darkness, where there is wailing and gnashing of teeth.

3. Hang a Picture

Being asked to hang a picture on the wall may be perhaps the world’s most common “honey-do.” While not necessarily an exact science, knowing some basics about wall hangings, and where to place prints on the wall, will ensure that your home has charm that will knock the socks off visiting dates and parents, and greatly please your main squeeze.

4. Shine Your Shoes

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A pair of shoes with a mirror shine can add the finishing touch to a sharp get-up. And besides keeping your shoes in tip-top shape, the act of shoe shining is a satisfying, manly ritual that calms the mind. The repetitive strokes of the shine brush coupled with the warm smell of shoe shine polish is enough to put you into a meditative state. To go the extra mile,build your own shoe shine box.

5. Treat a Snakebite

Since the very dawn of man, snakes have been one of our greatest enemies. They slither and sneak and hiss, and just are no good for anyone. Should you encounter a poisonous variety of snake (learn how to identify them here!), it’s in your best interest to know how to treat being bitten. Hint: most of the old wives’ tales are just that, so don’t go trying to suck the poison out.

6. Read a Book

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1) Open book. 2) Read words. 3) Close book. 4) Move on to next book. Reading a book seems like a pretty straightforward task, doesn’t it? And in some cases, it is. If you’re reading purely for entertainment or leisure, it certainly can be that easy. There’s another kind of reading, though, in which we at least attempt to glean something of value from the book in our hands (whether in paper or tablet form). In such cases, there are certain techniques you must master to be able to dive deeper into the text and suck out all the marrow.

7. Survive a Bear Attack

While bear attacks are rare, a man should always be prepared. Whether you’re camping for a weekend, or simply out for a morning hike, you never know when you’ll need this information. Believe it or not, just weeks after I compiled the research for our AoM guide on the topic, I encountered not one, but two black bears on a popular trail in Rocky Mountain National Park. It does happen. I was surprisingly calm with this useful knowledge at hand, and I felt confident I could have taken down those black bears should necessity have called. Alas, it didn’t, and I mourned the loss of the new rug I was looking forward to for my living room.

8. Wet Shave

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Electric shaving is fast and easy and the multi-bladed razors can give you a pretty close shave. But nothing beats the manly ritual of shaving with a safety razor or straight razor. Traditional wet shaving adds an element of skill back into what has become a mindless grooming activity. It makes you mindful and present. Plus, old school wet shaving is much cheaper than using the fancy multi-blade cartridges. A blade will only set you back about 25 cents. Feel manly and save money? It’s a win-win proposition.

9. Parallel Park

In the suburbs you enjoy endless drive-in parking in the giant lots in front of big box stores. Make a trip downtown and it’s a different story. Yeah, there are parking garages, but most of the parking is on the street next to the curb (not to mention it’s also the cheapest), meaning you need to know how to parallel park. You don’t want to be the guy who holds up traffic because he’s constantly backing up and moving forward after multiple failed attempts.

10. Paddle a Canoe

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Paddling lazily across the water is one of man’s great joys. Whether with your gal on a date, or just enjoying nature on a solo outing, there are few better recreational activities. While paddling might seem as natural as riding a bike, it takes a certain level of skill to deftly captain a canoe. Don’t be that guy/couple who can’t make headway because they paddle inefficiently or even tip over and end up in the water.

11. Negotiate/Haggle

Depending on where you are in the world, negotiation is either a part of everyday life or an uncomfortable practice that’s consciously avoided whenever possible. But here’s a truth that many of us, especially those of us living in the Western world, don’t always consider: whether or not you realize it, many of your commercial transactions can be negotiated. From hotel rooms, to rental cars, to complex business deals, knowing how to haggle can save you (or your business) a boatload of money. It’s awkward, sure, but with practice, you’ll get more confident and capable in the deft art of negotiating.

12. Fix a Leaky Faucet

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Drip. Drip. Drip. It can drive a man crazy in the middle of the night when he’s trying to sleep. It can also cost you money in the long run, in both water and handyman bills. While plumbing is not always a DIY project, fixing a leaky faucet is generally a pretty simple task. With a couple tools, a trip to your local hardware store, and this guide from This Old House, you’ll restore your sanity in no time.

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