The Mask of Masculinity by Lewis Howes Summary

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How Men Can Embrace Vulnerability, Create Strong Relationships, and Live Their Fullest Lives by Lewis Howes

Favorite Quotes

  • It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts. – John Wooden
  • You can’t learn what you think you already know. -Epictetus
  • Happiness and fulfillment are in the journey, not the destination.

Best Questions

  • Why is your self-worth wrapped up in winning?
  • Who did I love and who did I allow to love me? (what you will ask at the end of life)
  • What is valuable about me?
  • What do I value about my life?


The Nine Masks Men Wear

  1. The Stoic Mask (be invulnerable and tough)
  2. The Athlete Mask
  3. The Material Mask (a man’s net worth becomes his self-worth)
  4. The Sexual Mask
  5. The Aggressive Mask (violent, tough, never back down)
  6. The Joker Mask (cynicism & sarcasm)
  7. The Invincible Mask (no fear, take risks, have it all under control)
  8. The Know-it-all Mask (know all the answers)
  9. The Alpha Mask (see life only as winners and losers, only alphas and betas)

Chapter 1: The Stoic Mask

Marine Captain Dale Dye. Founder of Warrior, Inc.
“Never let them see you sweat.”
A tendency to be tough and hide feelings.
Reference to Phil Knight and Shoe Dog.
You lock people out by keeping your true authentic self hidden. The real you.
Give people a chance to love you and know you for who you really are.
Good relationships and maintaining them should be more than just an item on your to-do list.
Good relationships with open communication help us with our dreams and help us reach our full potential.
Encouragement from a partner increases the likelihood that we will achieve our goals.
Randy Couture’s definition of manliness. Being true to who you are and letting other people see who you are.
The less a person understands his own feelings the more he will fall prey to them.

What can we do right now?

How to begin the process of removing the stoic mask:
Be open, honest and vulnerable.

Try these steps first:

  1. Step 1: Make a list of the five most painful moments of your life. Note what happened and how you felt at each moment. Journal about it and go into detail.
  2. Step 2: Read your notes out loud to yourself. Give yourself permission to feel or to cry about them when you hear your own words. Play soft instrumental music during this process to help.
  3. Step 3: share them. When you have accepted the truth and pain, tell a friend or family member whom you trust. Part of removing the mask is allowing other people to support you.
  4. Step 4: look into hiring a coach or specialist.

Chapter 2: The Athlete Mask

A man who destroys himself running for a finish line that doesn’t exist.
Being a man has nothing to do with athletic ability.
Prosperity is a combination of health, wealth, happiness and love.
You are a gift. It is time to reveal the real you.

Things that can flood back into your life when you drop this mask:

  • Creativity
  • Culture
  • New experiences
  • Connections with other humans
  • Self-worth
  • A healthy relationship with your image.
  • Balance.
  • Time to do other things you enjoy.

What can we do right now?

Step 1: figure out what needs to be addressed in your life that is out of balance. What have you been neglecting?

Five core areas of your life to focus on:

  1. Health (Mental, physical and emotional)
  2. Relationships (intimate, family and friends)
  3. Wealth (finances, career, education, and business)
  4. Contributions (making an impact in the world and other people’s lives)
  5. Spiritual (connecting to the higher power or your beliefs)
  • Rate yourself on a scale of 1-10 in each of these areas. What would a 10 look like in each area?
  • What are your values and principles that you can lean on so you can figure out how to contribute to the world.
  • Step out of your comfort zone.
  • Develop your brain and heart.

Chapter 3: The Material Mask

A man’s ledger does not tell what he is or what he is worth, count what is in him not what is on him if you would know what he is worth. -Henry Ward Beecher
Example of Tai Lopez YouTube and his book newsletter.
Adversity makes men and prosperity makes monsters. -Victor Hugo
Dangers of conspicuous spending.

What can we do right now?

What you gain from dropping this mask:

  • Fulfillment
  • Worthiness
  • Inner peace
  • Attracting people who are interested in who you are not how much you have.
  • Feeling enough
  • Satisfaction with your achievements
  • Gratitude

When we live in gratitude life gives us more to be grateful for.

Chapter 4: The Sexual Mask

Names and examples mentioned: Neil Strauss, The Game (he felt empty and hollow).

What am I avoiding by not having tough conversations?

What can we do right now?

Sex is the perfect way for men to avoid emotions.
The physical part of sex will never be enough.
It is a never-ending cycle like the insatiable search for riches.

What you gain by dropping the sexual mask.

  • Inner peace
  • Worthiness
  • Fulfilling, intimate relationships
  • Feeling grounded
  • True partnership

Make a list of things you have been avoiding and create an action plan to confront them.

Forgive yourself. Make a list of all the things in life you still feel guilty for and make a conscious decision to forgive yourself for each one of these items.
The sexual mask is about avoiding yourself.
Make a list of all the things you love about yourself.

Chapter 5: The Aggressive Mask

The pain you inflict on others never reduces the pain you are trying to escape from within yourself.
Ray Lewis.
Many young boys are soaked in anger. It is the only emotion they think is accepted.
Compassion for self and compassion for others grow together and are connected.
Men need to be emotionally educated.

What can we do right now?

Channel anger in a productive direction.
Create a peaceful affirmation.
Get to the root of what is really bothering you.

What is waiting when you drop the mask:

  • Inner peace
  • Emotional control
  • Responsiveness instead of reactiveness
  • Self-awareness
  • Forgiveness of others and yourself
  • Patience
  • True strength

Make a list of everyone that has hurt you.
Write out who they are, what they did to you and how it made you feel
Own what happened, forgive the people that hurt you, and move on.

Chapter 6: The Joker Mask

Humor can be a mask used to shield the wearer and those around him from pain.
Robin Williams.
JP Sears YouTube comedian.
The joker mask prevents you from getting answers to questions because you lack the tools to ask the questions directly.
Ray Harrington documentary Be A Man.
Making fun of each other.
Hurt people hurt other people.
Being distant from your inner emotions can be toxic.
Do a self-audit about your use of humor and sarcasm. What are your reasons for using it?

What can we do right now?

What you gain by dropping the joker mask:

  • Deeper relationships
  • Worthiness
  • Richer experiences with other
  • Acknowledgment of all your gifts
  • People taking you seriously
  • Healing
  • Connection
  • Feeling enough

Be emotionally conscious in all moments.

Chapter 7: The Invincible Mask

Travis Pestrana.
What is available when you drop this mask:
A fulfilled and healthy lifespan.
Deeper relationships.
True courage.
Permission to just be and not constantly do.
A sense of belonging.

Write down these questions and answers, put them in a place you will see them every day.

  • What is valuable about me?
  • What do I value about my life?
  • What risky activities do I regularly engage in?
  • What am I looking for out of these activities?
  • Can I get those things elsewhere in my life?

Chapter 8: The Know-it-all Mask

It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts. – John Wooden
Example of Mike Rowe.
Talk less. Two ears, one mouth.
People talk as if they know everything, but if you dare to ask a question they don’t know anything.

There is nothing scarier than a man who can’t admit he doesn’t know what he is doing.

There is nothing impressive about a man who thinks he has all of the answers.

You can’t learn what you think you already know. -Epictetus

Know-it-alls almost always fail to persuade, even though it appears persuasion is all they seek.

We don’t turn to know-it-alls for advice. We turn to friends or those we know with experiences, those who have been through hard times, etc.
James Altucher admits to knowing nothing.
There is virtue in authentic humility.

Admitting you don’t know things isn’t a weakness, it’s a strength. It opens you to information and experience that, when combined, makes wisdom.
Consider how much you might learn if you just stopped talking and kept quiet.
Successful people realize how much they don’t know.
Be aware of experts that think they know but have little experience.
In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities but in the expert’s there are few.
“Mansplaining” is a branch of this tree.
Every man I meet is in some way my superior, and in that I can learn of him. Ralph Waldo Emerson.
I have never met a man so ignorant that I couldn’t learn something from him. Galileo.
Every person you meet is better than you at something.
Don’t lecture and talk down to people.
Humility is the virtue that allows you to become wise.
Trait of the smartest people the author knows, they ask questions constantly and relentlessly.
Being talked at by a know-it-all is exhausting.
Hang on other people’s words, listen genuinely and intently.

What can we do right now?

If your self-worth comes from your intellectual expertise and cannot admit when he is wrong or doesn’t know something, ultimately pays a heavy price in his relationships. True learning and connection become increasingly difficult.

What is available when you drop this mask:

  • People want to be around you
  • Freedom to not know
  • Ability to learn and grow
  • Wisdom from others
  • Deeper intimacy
  • Support from others

Have a beginner’s mind.
Imagination is more important than knowledge.
It is better to be kind than to be right all the time.

Chapter 9: The Alpha Mask

The harder we fight, the harder we fall. -John Krasinski.
Chris Voss FBI agent and hostage negotiator, experience talking down alpha males.
FBI refers to them as the assertives.
Most important to them is 1) being in control, 2) being respected, 3) getting what they want.
See his book, Never Split the Difference.
Looking like you are on top is not the same as getting what you want.
Arrogance is the armor worn by hollow men. -Eric Grightons former Navy SEAL.
Executive coach Glenn Harris.
Most alphas are insecure and self-centered.
Fear is at the root of the alpha mask.
The more well rounded you are the more attractive you will be.
The Art of Manliness.

Empowered vs Disempowered alpha.
The empowered alpha.
A dis-empowered alpha is a misogynist, very dictatorial, not win win.
An empowered alpha will ask an empowered beta, here is my idea, the mission, how do you feel about it?
The best leaders you know that would be characterized as alphas would be described as kind, thoughtful, listeners.

What can we do right now?

What is available when you drop this mask:

  • Win win scenarios
  • Being the hero who lifts others up
  • The job of being in service
  • Empowering others around you
  • Letting go of being in control
  • Freedom
  • Deeper sense of love

A true leader doesn’t need to be right in order to feel worthy.
What does losing mean to you?
Why is your self worth wrapped up in winning?


Take the weight of needing to prove yourself off of your own tired shoulders.
Author’s thought process has changed from “How can I gain the most for myself.” To “How can I serve the most for other people.”

Joe Irman’s TED X Baltimore talk.
On your death bed you will realize that all of life is about relationships, about the capacity to love and be loved.
Who did I love and who did I allow to love me?

Let us revere the one who loves others deeply and loves himself deeply.

Good section on what it means to be a real man. Worth listening again for inspiration.

Happiness and fulfillment are in the journey, not the destination.

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