30 Days to a Better Man Day 18: Find Your N.U.T.s

by Brett & Kate McKay on June 17, 2009 · 44 comments

in 30 Days to a Better Man

Editor’s note: You’ve probably noticed that Wayne Levine has become a regular contributor to AoM; he writes the “Ask Wayne” column that runs on the site every other Thursday. You probably also have noticed that in his columns, he often refers to knowing your N.U.T.s. I figured it would be beneficial for readers to know more about what N.U.T.s are and that coming up with our own would make an excellent task for our 30 Days project. So I asked Wayne to take over Day 18, and he graciously obliged.

This exercise fits nicely into the project, as it builds on our first task, which was to find our core values. Your N.U.T.s are the specific and concrete terms that spring from those general core values. For example is one of your core values is fitness, then something like “I will workout 6 times a week no matter what” might be one of your N.U.T.s. Wayne will explain more…..

One of the most important challenges facing every good man who wants to be better is to know exactly what he’s committed to. Without a clear understanding of what is acceptable and what is not, a man is untethered, and likely to find himself down a path of compromise, resentment and despair. So, what’s a better man to do? Find his N.U.T.s and maintain a firm grasp.

N.U.T.s are your Non-negotiable, Unalterable Terms. N.U.T.s are the things you’re committed to, the things that matter more than anything else: your kids, your career, your primary relationships, yourself, your purpose, your spiritual practice, your hobbies, your integrity, your morals and your psychological well-being.

N.U.T.s are the boundaries that define you as man, those things which, if repeatedly compromised, will gradually—but assuredly—turn you into a pissed-off, resentful man who will likely blame others—especially your wife—for your unhappiness.

Your N.U.T.s are uniquely yours. They reflect who you are as a man and the man you want to be. Compromise your N.U.T.s, and you’ll compromise yourself. Compromise yourself too often, and you’ll become an extremely unhappy man, husband and father.

Sample N.U.T.s

Here’s a short list of Non-negotiable, Unalterable Terms provided by the men of our BetterMen Community. These will give you an idea of the N.U.T.s which men, like you, have developed for themselves in their efforts to be the men they’ve always wanted to be.

I am faithful to my wife.

I say what I want.

Compassion for my family trumps my need to be right.

I replace doubt with acts of faith.

I am a risk taker.

I devote at least three hours a week to my writing.

I will only seek validation from the men.

I live in accordance with my religious faith.

I do what I believe is in the best interest of my kids, even if they disagree.

My commitment to my children comes before everything else.

I do not ask for permission.

Fear does not keep me from taking risks.

I do not indulge my addictions.

I am a man of my word—period!

I take my problems to men, not to women.

I do not show anger to my elderly mother.

I do not tolerate my wife’s attempts to belittle me.

When name-calling begins, the discussion is over.

I spend time with the men.

I have my own private office/space some place in my house.

I exercise regularly.

I do whatever it takes to keep my family in our home.

I ask for help when I’m not being the man I want to be.

I speak my mind in spite of my fear of confrontation.

I honor my daily spiritual practice.

I welcome feedback.

I only apologize when it’s appropriate, not simply to please others.

I do not hide out at work just to avoid issues at home.

I decide how I interact with my boys.

I choose which of my friendships to maintain.

I do not sell out who I am to placate others.

I share my men’s work with the men in my life.

I do as I see fit.

This list is here simply to inspire you. Maybe some of these N.U.T.s resonate with you. If so, use them and make them your own.

Can you imagine the transformation in your life and relationships if you were this clear about your terms? Can you see how much easier it would be for you make decisions? Do you understand how you owning your N.U.T.s makes it so much easier for those around you to rely upon you and respect you?

Finding Your N.U.T.s

Understanding the importance of finding and never compromising your N.U.T.s—your Non-negotiable, Unalterable Terms—is the most important thing you, as a man, will do. Once you find your N.U.T.s, never forget them and never compromise them.

Some men find their N.U.T.s over time, while others sit down and make a list. Either way, here are some of the questions you’ll want to ask yourself:

  • What’s most important to me in life?
  • Are there activities I used to do for fun that I no longer do? Is someone interfering and am I resentful because of it?
  • Are there valuable friendships with men I’ve let slip away?
  • Where am I currently having problems (unhappy, frustrated, sad, angry, resentful) in my life, and did compromising myself—and what’s important to me—contribute to my feelings and/or the situation?
  • What dreams have I abandoned?
  • If I’m going to be the man I want to be, what will I have to do differently?

Today’s Task: Find Your N.U.T.s

Carve out a good chunk of time. Have privacy. No distractions. Breathe for a couple of minutes like this: count to seven in, hold for seven, count to seven out. Do it a few times. Feel yourself relaxing and connecting to this important moment.

Take the list of N.U.T.s offered above and identify candidates that suit you.

Then methodically answer the six questions above. Don’t rush it. This is your life. If you’re going to short-change this process, how committed are you, really, to becoming a better man? Take your time. Compile your first draft of N.U.T.s.

This may be today’s task, but for many men, it’s a lifetime commitment. The more work we put into defining our N.U.T.s, the happier and more successful we’ll be. And as we mature, we change. As we change, so must some of our N.U.T.s. This list you create today will be something you’ll want to revisit periodically.

For this first go around, expect to come back to it a few times over the course of the next month. Let your N.U.T.s sink in. Run them by a man or men you respect. Get challenged. See what you’re made of. See how committed you truly are to these new N.U.T.s.

Then, live them and keep asking for help.

For more about figuring our your N.U.T.s check out Wayne book, aptly titled, Hold On to Your N.U.T.s. Wayne’s not making me say this. I’ve read the book and it’s great. And I’m recommending it to you.

What are your N.U.T.s? Share five of them with us in the Community page.

{ 44 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Paul June 17, 2009 at 7:20 pm

“So, what’s a better man to do? Find his N.U.T.s and maintain a firm grasp.”

Oh, God.

I’ve already expressed my opinion on this crap, but I want to see how everybody else feels. Thumbs up if you like this guy, thumbs down if you don’t. If everybody likes him I’ll stop complaining.

2 David June 17, 2009 at 7:30 pm

I was confused by Paul’s method of voting, should I vote his comment up if I like Wayne or vote his comment down if I like Wayne? I’m not sure. But I’m not into middle school popularity contests.

I like Wayne. I heard about the NUTs book on this site, read it, and found it helpful. I think other men will too. I don’t always agree with what he has to say, but it’s a needed perspective. There’s nothing else really out there for men looking for relationship help. That is all.

3 Jeff June 17, 2009 at 7:39 pm

Paul’s method of voting seems to make sense to me. It seems like he just wants to get a feel of how other people out there think about Wayne.

For what it’s worth, I’m not a big fan of Wayne’s content, but I don’t really care either way.

4 Andrew G. June 17, 2009 at 7:40 pm

Yeah, the N.U.T.s thing is sort of cheesy, but, hey, it works.

I enjoy Wayne’s articles. It’s direct, to the point, and isn’t all whinny and Dr. Phil like.

Figuring out my NUTs is going to be tough. I sort of have an idea what my core values are, but getting to specifics will be more difficult.

5 David June 17, 2009 at 7:46 pm


What is confusing about Paul’s voting method is that if you like Wayne you vote his comment up. Yet typically voting a comment up means you agree with that comment. But in this case, the opposite would be true-if you disagree with Paul, then you would vote his comment up. And if you agreed with him, you would vote his comment down, and this would lead to his comment being hidden. So what he should have asked, is “vote my comment up if you don’t like Wayne and vote my comment down if you do like Wayne.” As it us now it’s pretty confusing.

6 Paul June 17, 2009 at 7:50 pm

Ah, I see what you are saying, David. Too bad I can’t delete that first post. Let me try again.

I am not a fan of Wayne’s content. If you disagree with me, then go ahead and give me a thumbs down and hide this comment.

If you aren’t a fan either, go ahead and give a thumbs up so this comment doesn’t get hidden.

7 Ryan June 17, 2009 at 8:21 pm

Some of those things on the list are a joke, I hope.

“I will only seek validation from the men.” Why seek validation from anyone? And why only men unless you are a sexist ass of course.

“I take my problems to men, not to women.” Ah yes. I like living in the 1800′s. Those are the good old days. Grow up. You can talk to girls. They don’t have cooties.

“I share my men’s work with the men in my life.” That sounds dirty. What the heck is the dude talking about.

The article is better weak. In fact, this whole series is kind of lacking. Men have to stop trying so hard and just be who they are. That is manly.

8 Jason June 17, 2009 at 8:22 pm

I’ve always wondered what the N.U.T.s thing stands for. Now I know. I agree that every man should have some terms that they won’t negotiate on. Every time you do, a little bit of you dies.

The only N.U.T that I can think of off the top of my head is: Speak my mind, no matter what.

9 Bob Iger June 18, 2009 at 2:07 am

While I have to agree both a bit with Paul and the rest of the commenters, and even though I think the N.U.T.s-concept is kinda cheezy, I do think that Wayne has a point.

If a man does not hold on to his principles, he will have less self-esteem and will not be respected by his fellow men and women.

10 CoffeeZombie June 18, 2009 at 7:11 am

Honestly, I have to admit…my first experience with Wayne’s advice was the columns on AoM, and those have turned me off to just about anything else he had to say. I’ve felt that his responses to questions have been rather irresponsible and/or arrogant. I think his focus on his NUTS are blinding him to the actual problems in the questions sent.

I have yet to see a question addressed to Wayne that includes all the information that would really be necessary to address the problem. What Wayne appears to do is interpolate that information, as always, though his apparent assumption that all a man’s problems stem from not having a firm grasp on his NUTS.

It may be that NUTS is a message that many men find helpful and need to hear; I’m sure it’s useful for some. However, it’s not the panacea that Wayne seems to think it is.

Forgive me if this is overly harsh, but I felt it needed to be said.

11 Brett June 18, 2009 at 7:38 am

@Coffee Zombie-

I think Wayne’ does the best he can with the information people send him with their questions. His columns are obviously not meant to be the end all solution to people’s problems. They’re like an Ann Landers column for men-he gives an answer based on what he knows. And the answer really serves as a jumping off point for further discussion.

What you feel is Wayne’s arrogance/irresponsibility, is what actually appeals to me and why I have him on the site. I like that he tells it like it is and doesn’t coddle people. He doesn’t tell you it’s your daddy’s fault for not loving you enough. His message is that you are in control of your life. Is getting in touch with your NUTs always the solution? No. But I’m willing to believe that in any problem, finding your NUTS will greatly improve the situation and allow you greater clarity about how to proceed.

Wayne has worked with thousands of men who have had problems similar to the ones submitted to him from AoM readers. And he’s seen firsthand how finding your NUTs really does change your life and solve your problems. Thus, I am guess I am willing to give Wayne the benefit of the doubt and believe that he really does know what he’s talking about.

12 Dan June 18, 2009 at 8:04 am

It’s a good exercise of identifying yourself, I think. Helps you to be true to yourself, you know?

Jason, you’re walking a thin line, friend. Your N.U.T. may just leave you with all man and no woman, if you know what I mean! Just joking.

I find the list to be a mixed bag – and it was probably meant to be. There are some excellent ones like:

I am faithful to my wife.
I am a man of my word—period!
I exercise regularly.

But some others, I’m not so sure:

I say what I want.
I do not ask for permission.
I do as I see fit.

I personally don’t think that being a jerk has anything to do with being a real man. A real man would not be afraid to show kindness to others or admit he is not the center of the universe. After all, a man is a man when he stops acting like a teenage boy. Cheers to the real men of our generation!

13 CoffeeZombie June 18, 2009 at 10:10 am

Yes, sometimes, we need a hardass approach. Dr. Phill has made a living off of it. That wasn’t entirely what I was referring to as his arrogance. It is a part of his irresponsibility, though; it does lead to him coming across as presenting his advice as the “end all solution,” whether that’s what he intends or not.

I am particularly reminded of the article where the guy had a fight with his wife about how much time she spends at work, and tried to apologize with a text message. If you’ll recall, I was rather vocal about my opposition to pretty much everything Wayne said in response. Whether Wayne intended his advice to come across this way or not, he sounded like 1) he was more concerned that the guy used the “wrong” media to apologize (the bulk of the article was basically berating the guy for sending a text message, without any consideration that, perhaps, the guy had good reason to; as one person commented, maybe that was the only way he could get to her because she worked too much!) and 2) the guy was probably wrong for feeling like the wife worked too much.

Maybe Wayne was right about some of his advice. All I know is that, were someone to ask me that question, my first response would be to ask for more information; there are a lot of things that could be wrong. If that weren’t possible (as in this case), I would present my thoughts about the situation, trying to consider all possibilities (for example, maybe his wife just doesn’t give a crap about him and is focused on the feminist dream of “having it all”), but I definitely would not do so in a hardass tone.

That post was perhaps the most egregious example of the attitudes I complained about above.

Now, hey, I have no problem telling someone “it’s your fault” if it is. I find, in helping friends with disputes, that helping each party to focus on and admit where *they* went wrong can do a lot to bring reconciliation. You can’t just ignore the fact, though, that the other party did wrong, too, and you have to consider that, perhaps, the other party has no interest in reconciliation, or they’re interested in reconciling, but on their own terms.

At the same time, I’ve also learned that, sometimes, the best thing I can say is “I don’t know.”

14 Kate McKay June 18, 2009 at 10:44 am

I think Brett’s comparison of Wayne with Ann Landers is an apt one. I feel like the criticism of Wayne’s columns springs from a misunderstanding of the format. His column is written in the long-standing tradition of advice columns. The columnist receives a reader question, and that is all the information they have on the problem. They then give their advice based on what they believe is going on in the given situation.

An advice column is by nature designed to be very opinionated. It’s one person’s advice-of course not everyone will agree with it. A column that essentially consisted of “I don’t know,” or “I can’t help you without more information,” would not be read by many people. And a column that explored every possible scenario-”well, if it’s because your wife is feeling this way then do X, or if it’s because your wife is feeling this way then do Y, and if it’s because really it’s your faulty, then do Z”- would be incredibly lengthy and ultimately impossible to write-the possible scenarios would be endless. An advice columnist must decide what they think is going on and give an answer based on that idea.

An advice column is designed to be interesting and thought provoking. Sometimes the columnist hits the mark; sometimes he doesn’t. Sometimes you agree with what he has to say, sometimes you don’t. Everyone who reads an advice column hopefully understands that the information given in the question is limited and that the advice is from one person’s perspective. And so they read with that in mind, still able to find it interesting.

I know that Ann Landers gets hundreds of angry letters and emails every week from people who think she really got it wrong in her last column. But the column got a response and made people think, which is the whole point. So I’m not surprised that people are split on whether they like Wayne. That’s my 2 cents at least. Obviously I’m a little biased. But I really like Wayne’s columns and find them an enjoyable read.

15 Wayne Levine June 18, 2009 at 10:45 am

The purpose of today’s post, the columns, and all of the work we do, is to help each man to be the man, father and husband he wants to be. Most men don’t have a clear vision, though they have real pain and desire to change.

What’s most fascinating to me about today’s comments, is how much energy is being directed toward making it about me, my motives, name calling, and criticism. I’m afraid the purpose of the post might get lost in the shuffle.

What’s “cheesy” about bringing attention to men getting clear about what they’re committed to? It’s important and difficult work. Frankly, I don’t understand how that’s remotely provocative. Sure, the acronym I use is an attention getter. But don’t get tripped up by it.

There are many ways to get to one’s truth. I offer a path that has resonated with a lot of men. Other’s have found their way through traditional therapy, or any number of spiritual practices. Whatever works for you is fine.

But some of the comments I’ve read clearly suggests that there’s more work to be done. When you stop making it about me, and focus more on the potential benefit of clearly defining your terms, you just might begin to understand the value of this type of work. As for the work we do, it’s all about being a great man, a loving man, a man who takes responsibility for his life and relationships. It’s not be a sexist ass, or about being a jerk.

Some of the N.U.T.s I listed are a kind of short-hand for the men. They formulated those particular terms after doing a lot of very difficult soul searching with the help of other men. I say this because if taken at their face value, a reader is liable to come to any number of interpretations, non of which accurately reflect what the term means to the man who defined it.

I encourage everyone, whose feathers have been ruffled by my postings, to consider that where all of this is coming from may not be as sinister as some have suggested. Think about the men in your life who are stuck, unhappy, depressed, lost. What will it take for those good men to get the help they need? It’s not easy to reach them, as you know.

It’s difficult for most men to ask for help. I honor those who do.

16 CoffeeZombie June 18, 2009 at 11:08 am

As I said in my first comment here, please forgive me if my thoughts have been too harsh. For clarity, I was responding more to Paul’s comments than to the specific post here.

While I do think the N.U.T.s acronym is a little cheesy (then again, I think many similar acronyms come across as being cheesy), I do appreciate what you’re trying to say with it. We all need to spend more time getting to know ourselves, figuring out what we believe and what we value.

And sometimes we need a hardass approach or provocative wording. ;-)

I do still stand by my general assessment of your approach in the advice column, however. Then again, my experience with friends coming to me with issues leads me to the conclusion that advice columns are, perhaps, an inherently broken medium for the kinds of problems often addressed.

Anyway, I did want to have a bit more positive comment on here, that I understand and appreciate what you’re trying to say with the N.U.T.s.

17 Finnian June 18, 2009 at 11:48 am

Come on, people! Think! Think a little below the surface to what is motivating the men who created the N.U.T.s Wayne cited. No one criticizes the guy whose N.U.T. is to be faithful to his wife. Why? Because that is what he should do. But why did he write that as his N.U.T to begin with? Could it be that he has been unfaithful in the past and wants to be a better man? If so, then we congratulate him.

What about the guy who wrote “I say what I want?” Maybe he struggle to speak up for himself. Maybe the guy who wrote about getting validation from other men has few male friends in his life. Maybe the guy with the N.U.T about permission needs permission to do anything. As Wayne points out, some of these N.U.T.s are shorthand for the men who wrote them.

I’d really like to see the men who leave comments on this website think a little more before they write.

18 Tom from Vancouver, BC June 18, 2009 at 12:30 pm

Why can’t he write one article without the word “N.U.T.s” in it? Please Wayne, write one article without this word in it and I promise I will start paying attention to your columns again.

19 Bruthaman June 18, 2009 at 12:32 pm

One thing I know about Wayne Levine, he is passionate about helping men succeed at becoming better men.

Does that mean that everything he says fits everybody? Of course not.

It’s like the old addage… “If the shoe fits, wear it…” Another way to put it is “Eat the meat and spit out the bones…”

In regards to the book, there are a lot relationship books and guides out there but very few that are written to men to be read by men (Most of the relationship books about men are aimed at women readers). Wayne does a good job of highlighting some things that men struggle with and how to work on it.

One last thing… This guy actually does the work. He holds retreats for men, speaks at colleges and will give any one a free 30 minute consult . So agree with him or not, you have to respect that fact that the guy is committed working with men.

Just my $.39

20 Wayne Levine June 18, 2009 at 2:13 pm

@ Tom from Vancouver

Were I to change the way I write to please you, I’d be compromising my N.U.T., to do as I see fit. And that would simply be NUTs…don’t you think?

@ Finnian

Right on. As we say in our circles of men, “HO!.”

@ CoffeeZombie

No apologies, please. You tell the truth. You take a stand. You’re thoughtful. Good enough for me.

@ Kate, Brett & Bruthaman

What do I owe you? :)

@ all the dads out there

Enjoy Sunday!

21 Edward June 19, 2009 at 9:09 am

This has been a very interesting discussion to be sure. I understand where the critics are coming from but I had to log in and give my two cents as well:

I like Wayne and his advice. I am somewhat new to AoM and now have it in my RSS reader and sometimes don’t like some of the articles, sometimes I do.

What is most interesting to me is that in my own personal life, I find Wayne to be absolutely right. In my own personal experience, I grew up with a father that was a drunk and generally an asshole. He treated the family as such.

I never realized my Dad was a drunk until I was 18 and my parents divorced. Once he left the house, it was eye opening for me (I’m 36 now). Unfortunately for me, he was my example of manhood and while I knew his way was the wrong way, I didn’t get raised with any overly positive examples showing me the RIGHT way.

In my 20s all I did was compromise while I tried to figure out life. I went through women like kleenex and fathered a daughter from a casual hook-up. (And yes, I am very active in her life and love her to death).

FINALLY, a few years ago I started to realize mistakes I had made in personal relationships and other areas in life and started changing. I didn’t have a name for what I was doing, but it is an awful lot like Wane’s N.U.T.s philosophy. Yes, some of it sounds a little cheesy, but what he is saying is dead on. As an avid reader of history, I was trying to base my own actions off of historical figures I admired and cobbling together my own “code of conduct”.

Today I am in a great relationship with a woman I am in love with and completely faithful. In my 20s and early 30s well… I am not going to get into my foibles in a public forum in depth. While I didn’t cheat back then, I would break up with women just because I felt like moving on to the next. Mostly I think it was my own insecurities, but back then I didn’t view it as souch.

Had I known Wayne earlier in life or even 5 years ago, I probably would have been happier along the road. I can say that I am a happy guy now and it took a long time to get to where I am, but what Wayne is talking about would be really good stuff for High School seniors to hear or even college students.

We all have different experiences in life that shape us and some of us might not need to read any of Wayne’s philosophy or his N.U.T.s theory but others of us out there might need it desperately.

I’d also like to take a final parting shot at “Higher Learning” here in the U.S. I went to college and enjoyed my experience…mostly. I am an Army veteran and was in ROTC in college along with being an English major. You would not believe how much shit is shoveled out by extremely PC feminist professors of both sexes. Talk about man-bashing!! I was an English major because I love literature and writing, but time and time again the anti-U.S., anti-man rhetoric I was pummeled with was insane. I think over time some of that poison leaked into my sub-conscious despite my vigorous objections to it in classes I took.

The reason I say this is because for some reason I feel like I lost my way a bit after school in personal relationships. I *did* seek reassurance from women more often than men and started doubting myself too often. And that would lead to unsatisfactory relationships, to say the least.

I was able to figure out finally that I wasn’t viewing my own relationships with women the right way and got back to being a normal, healthy man and not second guessing myself when I know something to be right (personally or professionally). I look back now at some of the missteps I made and cringe, but the past is the past and the future looks bright.

So while I don’t need Wayne’s philosophy NOW, it would have saved me a heap of trouble back in the day. And I am guessing there are some guys out there now that are in situations that I once faced that could probably use a road map forward.

22 Bruthaman June 19, 2009 at 10:34 am

@ Wayne

How about some hot wings?

23 Capt. Will June 19, 2009 at 9:53 pm

Some of you like Wayne, some of you don’t. I am fairly neutral, but would like to point out that all Wayne seems to be doing is placing a new name on what people used to call a “Code of Honor.”

That’s not a problem, however I am getting tired of Wayne’s N.U.T.S. being on the site so much. It’s not that I don’t like Wayne’s N.U.T.S., Wayne’s N.U.T.S. just aren’t what draw me to AOM. I’m sure there are a lot of people who love Wayne’s N.U.T.S., and that’s fine. But even then, Wayne’s N.U.T.S. are kind of like chocolate. Chocolate is good, but if you eat enough chocolate, you’re going to get sick of it. I feel the same way about Wayne’s N.U.T.S.. I guess what I’m saying is, I’m starting to choke on Wayne’s N.U.T.S. just a little bit.

I hope I’m not stepping on anybody’s N.U.T.S. by saying this. Goodness knows I’m not here to knock someone’s N.U.T.S., or to try and shove my N.U.T.S. down their throat. That would be disrespectful, and we’re supposed to respect each others N.U.T.S..

I guess what I’m really trying to say is that while we don’t have to like everybody’s N.U.T.S., we should try to treat each others N.U.T.S. as we would want our own N.U.T.S. treated. And sometimes that means not taking our own N.U.T.S. so seriously, and maybe even having a good laugh at our N.U.T.S. now and again.

24 Simon June 20, 2009 at 7:26 pm


“I do as I see fit”

Yeah, right. That’s how a child thinks, not a man. A man sometimes has to compromise for the benefit of everyone involved.

“I share my men’s work with the men in my life.”

Uh, what? Women aren’t allowed to see your “men’s work”? Or did I misunderstand this?

“I honor my daily spiritual practice.”

What if I don’t have one?

“I speak my mind in spite of my fear of confrontation.”

I would add “only if appropriate and not just for the sake of my ego.”

“When name-calling begins, the discussion is over.”

..or you may simply act like a reasonable men and try to cool down first. Then, perhaps, it would be over.

“I do not tolerate my wife’s attempts to belittle me.”

Substitute “my wife” with “anyone”.

“I do not show anger to my elderly mother.”

…what if your mother is a psycho like Livia Soprano from The Sopranos series? Being elderly and mother doesn’t make you automatically immune. Respect must be earned, even by parents.

“I take my problems to men, not to women.”

That’s right down nonsense. That may surprise you manly hulks, but women can be rather good problem solvers.*

* Of course, that doesn’t apply to strictly man-problems such as “What’s the best razor to use?”

“Fear does not keep me from taking risks.”

Yeah, jump inside the lions’ cage at the Zoo then. Fear is a signal. Risks must always be evaluated, and fear is often justified.

“I do not ask for permission.”

Good luck with that in the Ladies’ bathroom.

“I do what I believe is in the best interest of my kids, even if they disagree.”

“Best interest” is subjective. If they disagree, a second/professional opinion helps.

“I will only seek validation from the men.”

You shouldn’t seek validation from anyone.

“I say what I want.”

Again, that sounds like a teenager on Jerry Springer. “What-E-Va! I say what I want!”. Sometimes, shutting the hell up is a good choice.

“I live in accordance with my religious faith.”

Those manly Islamic Palestinians Extremists got this right, didn’t they?

Man, only in the US I see stuff like this. Love it.

25 josh June 21, 2009 at 7:38 am

AoM, in my understanding is here to help men in this confusing era of gender equality. Its hard to tell if women want to be treated in a semblance of traditional gender-roles or if they would rather be treated of equals. Men are given very mixed signals from people and from media-half of them saying that we should still be manly men who conquered the frontier and half of them saying we should basically be women.
Obviously neither of those extremes works in todays society, and AoM helps men navigate between those two, finding where we can retain our traditional manliness and when we should find a new way to express our manliness.

The reason i have started to not even bother reading pots by Wayne is that he seems to only focus on the chauvinist, traditional idea of men. And if i wanted to just be a manly mountain man i could be. but I would much rather be a man of the new century, and Wayne does nothing to help me become that.

26 Dave June 21, 2009 at 7:11 pm

Regarding taking your problems to men and not women, if you doubt the wisdom in this statement read “Not Just Friends”. Many (most?) men are mistaken in thinking that affairs can only be physical, but there are emotional affairs too and they are VERY common. Once you know what to look for you see it EVERYWHERE. It’s scary how many men and women are emotionally “hooking up” at work or elsewhere and robbing their spouses of that emotional connection.

The only time it is manly to unload your problems or emotions onto a woman is when she is your wife/mate/whatever. If you can’t do that, you need to address the underlying relationship problem. I think that is what the original author may have meant, not “never speak to any woman at all”.

27 Finnian June 21, 2009 at 7:43 pm

@ Capt. Will

I’m laughing so hard I can hardly type…

28 Craig June 22, 2009 at 11:17 am

It’s a pity there are not more responses in the community to this one – I would like to read what you guys use as bed-rock in your life rather than the few items you disagree with. There are a few harsh comments about some of the personal terms given as examples (without the full background – yes, that argument was used above against Wayne and I’ll get to it below). You imagine this jerk, but the person who wrote that was likely the complete opposite. To address a balance from an extreme, something that appears to be from the other extreme often needs to be employed (I imagine 2 opposing weights on a speed governor when writing this): A statement that might take you or I over the limit, is merely a step in the right direction for another.

As for Wayne’s column; it is like any column. He uses what he is given and he does what he does. People know Wayne is about “N.U.Ts”. They write to Wayne to hear his opinion. They probably already feel they need some “N.U.Ts”, and want an idea how to formulate them for their situation.

I rarely agree 100% with anything, and this concept is no exception, but I can easily find value here to apply to bettering myself. It’s a great idea to set your terms in a personal contract. A complete man knows his beliefs, he knows what he thinks, where he stands. When you make it clear to yourself it will stand you in good stead when apathy comes calling or the pressure is on. Metaphorically, and to connect to a previous task, would you rather fill every second of the unforgiving minute with distance run, or dither around deciding what it is ‘you’ do in this situation?

29 James June 22, 2009 at 5:23 pm

Wayne’s simplistic approach to life (which often strikes me as sexist and, well, stupid), along with his endless references to his crude acronym, really turn me off. It seems counter to what I thought was this site’s intention. I understand wanting a male equivalent to Ann Landers, but if this is the best we men can do, we’d be better off not having one. I hope AoM will reconsider giving this guy so much screen time.

30 TimothyS. October 1, 2009 at 12:26 pm

Sounds like a few lines from John Shaft’s book Of living

31 TimothyS. October 1, 2009 at 12:27 pm

Well except for that sex machine part

32 prufock November 21, 2009 at 11:09 am

A lot of people seem to be misunderstanding the point of this exercise, instead focusing on how the sample items are “wrong.” The items are not meant for everyone. There are a lot of items here that I don’t agree with, but this isn’t MY list.

33 zenblake April 21, 2010 at 3:37 pm

Think of these as mission statements. Decide now how you need to respond in situations with which you historically struggle and write it down. You are making rules for yourself to follow. Sounds silly but getting this stuff out of your brain and onto a piece of paper makes it real.

34 Bryan June 9, 2010 at 9:12 pm

My N.U.T. #1:
I will stand taller by growing rather than knocking down those around me.

35 James October 18, 2012 at 2:19 pm

Ok, I’m really to the discussion by a good 2 years, but I just got started on this 30 Day challenge just this month and wanted to chime in.

Really what made this article make sense to me was in the opening statement by Brett, specifically him explaining that

“This exercise fits nicely into the project, as it builds on our first task, which was to find our core values. Your N.U.T.s are the specific and concrete terms that spring from those general core values. For example is one of your core values is fitness, then something like “I will workout 6 times a week no matter what” might be one of your N.U.T.s. Wayne will explain more…..”

This really helps show what this article is about in a context that AoM can more easily understand and is a point that I think Wayne could have implemented more into his explanation, seeing as he was addressing AoM readers.

Take your core values that you have already established and THEN come up with your N.U.T.s based on those core values. Not only does it help come up with some concrete rules to live by, it better ties in to the 30 Day Challenge.

36 James November 10, 2012 at 8:06 am

I like the idea of “N.U.T.S.” but think Wayne is ignoring the fact that a wife is a husband’s help mate and that “two are better than one.” What a shame that he never listens to or seeks the advice of women. Even Solomon listened to the advice of his mom. I do not think a woman needs to be brought low in order for a man to reach his full potential. In fact, I believe the opposite to be true. A man operating in his full potential will cause the women in his life to flourish and be at their best.

37 Mattie02 February 18, 2013 at 3:33 am

This article is amazing.

38 Joseph March 18, 2013 at 3:26 pm

Good article. I always hear “set your boundries” but never how exactly to determine them… N.U.T.s are a good start. Thanks.

39 Augustin April 27, 2013 at 9:03 am

Capt. Will has made the most sense!

40 booger October 13, 2013 at 2:57 pm

At least Wayne is trying. Many of you sound like a bunch of pussy betas.
Stop focusing on his terms and start hearing the message.
Why do so many of you need to wrap your ‘truths’ in a package that is acceptable to women?

41 Eric Petersen December 29, 2013 at 4:28 pm

Love the idea, but the way it is presented is lacking. I’m curious best we can determine if our non-negotionables are legitly that or if they are just grand illusions we have created that in the longterm will be a disservice. I guess that is the beauty of trial and error right?

One of the biggest non-negotionables for me right now is people’s opinion my dependency. I want people to know I’m dependable on my word. If I say I will do something or won’t, that is what I will do and if I happen to change my mind on the matter (in a reasonable amount of time of course) I will communicate that to them so they at least understand where I am coming from.

42 Jane January 12, 2014 at 5:59 pm

I am a female who finds this site generally very helpful. As the sole breadwinner in my family with a job in a male-dominated industry, I feel the need to bolster skills that I, like many women, weren’t pushed to develop when we were kids. I am trying to be assertive, set clear boundaries, embrace my responsibilities and feel comfortable owning the (often difficult) decisions I have to make. As a female, I find the concept of N.U.T.S. very empowering. I get that I’m in the men’s clubhouse. I understand and respect that a lot of men need to connect with their manliness. I have no desire for this site to be written for women. I just wish this article weren’t quite so blatantly misogynistic. Honestly, these days a significant minority of women are playing the roles men used to…I don’t think these skills are ultimately about gender so much as empowering people to be leaders.

43 Jack February 4, 2014 at 12:16 pm

I found this exercise to be helpful, although I don’t much buy into the N.U.T idea. The point of the exercised seemed to me to be about stopping and thinking about what values are most important to you and cause distress when they are challenged. I found it a helpful reminder to do that.

Will I use the N.U.T. idea regularly? Certainly not, but it did help draw into focus issues that have been bothering me and what about them is precisely my issue.

44 PatQualified March 5, 2014 at 8:59 am

I don’t get all those negative comments. You read this article and you incorporate any of this advice that makes sense in your life.

Some people may actually need to start with a NUT such as “I do not ask for permission.” if they are overly sensitive and always ask for things. A few weeks in they might feel like they’ve improved on this aspect and now change it to “I do not ask for permission for trivial things.”

I think that what matters here is that you shouldn’t take AoM articles personally like so many of you seem to do. Not saying that some of them are fundamental in ones life, but still it doesn’t justify attacking the author.

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