Last week, my wife, Sue, wanted to look for a new backpack. So, we headed to REI. Our oldest daughter, Anne, and our granddaughter, Amelia, were with us, so we knew it would be fun.

If you have never been to REI, check it out. It is a fun store with many unique items to help you live an adventurous life. We don’t often buy things when we go there because we aren’t that outdoorsy of a family.  

As we walked into the main section of the store, we came across the bicycle section. They had several dozen bicycles hanging on racks above our heads. Our 2-year-old granddaughter, Amelia, immediately wanted to know how they got the bikes down. 

I reached up as high as I could with my hand and said, “I don’t know. Grandpa is tall, and he can’t even reach them.” That could be the end of the subject, and we could move on to shopping. Amelia had other ideas. She told us that if her dad was there, he could get a ladder and get them down. I agreed he could, but we didn’t need to get the bikes down. She still wasn’t satisfied and started looking for a ladder. And she found one. Again, she pointed out that her daddy could get the bikes with it. I pointed out that we didn’t need a bike and that her daddy wasn’t around to help. I choose not to say Grandpa and Mommy can also use this ladder to get the bikes down.

Because as you have likely picked up, we have no interest in getting a bike down.  

At this point, Amelia changed her focus off of the bikes and onto rock climbing. Sue and Anne decided now would be a good time for Amelia and me to leave them with the backpacks and return to the store’s front to look at the rock walls. (This meant we would have to go back under the bikes and hear how Daddy could get them with a ladder.)

Once we got to the wall, my young guide gave me a verbal tour. She pointed at the small 10-foot wall and said it was her size. I agreed. She pointed at the 40-foot wall, told me her daddy could climb it, and then pointed out how I could handle the 30-foot wall.  

She was testing me. If Jon could handle the big wall, I could handle the big wall, but I decided to let her continue to think Daddy was Superman and better than everybody else.  

What a joy to have a son-in-law whose little girl thinks he is Superman.  

She has great confidence in herself, but Daddy, he can do anything.  

She then went and found a helmet and claimed she needed it to climb the wall. I agree, but they said we needed a worker to help us, and no workers were around to help. I didn’t spend time tracking down a worker because I was about as interested in having a 2-year-old climb a rock wall as I was in getting a bike down.  

The entire trip to REI reminded me of a book my brother, Justin, has been recommending to people lately. Since he doesn’t write a blog, I will use this space to make a recommendation on his behalf.  

The book is “The Men We Need” by Brant Hansen.  

In the book, Hansen makes the case for the type of men the world needs. He argues not for the macho superhero or cowboy of the Wild West. He argues for the provider and protector who takes care of his garden. Hansen uses the term garden to mean the area of the world we have been entrusted to watch over. In my favorite paragraph, Hansen says, “Does she wish I could fix cabinets and stuff? Sure, but not much. She’s mostly concerned that I care enough about the cabinets to fix them if needed. It matters to her that if something matters to her, it matters to me, too.”  

The book is encouraging because it lets us men know you don’t need to be a 6’4″ 250 bodybuilder who can run a 4.4 40 to be a man. The book points out that you must be willing to act to protect the people around you. It would be best if you stood up for the people near you.

Jack Reacher, Jason Bourne, and James Bond are fictional characters who can take on multiple people simultaneously. Brant Hansen is trying to convince us that we need a world full of Daddies who will get 2-year-old girls what they need daily. If we take care of the small needs, the people around us will see us able to scale large walls and keep us safe.

Hansen’s book says that the men we need will:

  • Forsake the fake and relish the real.
  • Protect the vulnerable.
  • Be ambitious about the right things.
  • Make women and children feel safe.
  • Choose today who will become tomorrow.  
  • Take responsibility for their own spiritual life.

I’m lucky because my dad was this kind of man. My son is this kind of man. My daughter chose to marry this kind of man. My brother is this kind of man. The men I work around are as well.  

If you struggle with your confidence as a man or know someone who struggles with his confidence, I suggest getting Brant Hansen’s “The Men We Need.”  

I found the book to be a huge confidence boost. I read it and thought, I can be this guy.