At a certain point in life, you should realize that you have developed a particular set of skills that can come in handy regularly. There are specific skills that all men should know. Some of these skills may involve personal survival, while others are skills that can save your life in other ways.
I’ve managed to make it through 50+ years of life, knowing what I feel is a fair amount of basic information in many different areas. I’m dangerous enough to get by but not an expert on any one particular thing. For example, I can make my way around a car for necessary repairs (oil change, headlights, signal lights, and simple stuff), but I couldn’t tell you the first thing about how to troubleshoot an electrical issue.
My recommendation is that every male should have these 20 skills in their arsenal. To be fair, women should know some of these, if not all, of these skills as well.
Start a fire
Whether you are gathered around the backyard fire pit or lost in the woods, realizing you won’t make it out by nightfall, fire building is a skill that can save your life. I’ve watched enough tv shows with famed survivalist and adventurer Bear Grylls to know the importance of a good fire. The problem is that often when you need to make fire, you don’t have matches or a trusty BIC lighter handy, so you need to know how to start a fire without these tools.
There are several methods, including rubbing two sticks together, a magnifying glass, or flint. The critical point is to make sure you practice before you need to create a fire. You don’t want the first time you are trying to be in the cold in the middle of the woods at night.
Unclog a toilet
Whenever we have a party at my house, someone clogs the bowl. We spare no expense when it comes to toilet paper (or TP as we call it here), and many newbies who visit can’t judge how much of this plush bottom cleaning material to tear off. Overzealous use inevitably causes a clog. At the very least you should be adept at using a plunger.
Be efficient in the downward plunge but also pulling up on the plunger as well. It’s the upward motion that does the trick. Alternate methods like water pressure, Saran Wrap, and chemicals also do the trick.
What’s better than an outdoor BBQ! Fresh air, warm weather, and good food are such a great combination unless the person at the grill is clueless. Decide on if you want to master propane grills or charcoal or both and be able to cook the perfect burger or steak. Your guests will be in awe of your skills.
We’ve all become accustomed to our cell phones. Our phones are always working and ready to help us at any moment. But what happens when you’re stuck somewhere with a weak signal, and you need to find your way? Siri, Waze and Google Maps can’t help you when they can’t find a signal. That’s why it’s essential to know how to navigate without technology should the need ever arise.
If you were given a compass right now, would you know how to use it? What about taking cues from nature, such as the position of the sun/stars? Can you tell direction by the moss on trees? Have you ever had to read an actual map? If you answered “no,” then begin practicing before it’s too late.
Nothing in life is worse than introducing yourself to someone, extending your arm and hand only to receive a weak handshake. I’m not insinuating that you should crush the other person’s hand, but a good firm handshake is best. A firm handshake shows you’re confident. Make sure to look the person in the eye as well when shaking hands.
Tie a tie
If you’re like me, wearing a suit is a hassle. I prefer a good pair of shorts and a t-shirt, but certain occasions call for a suit. You don’t want to show up to Uncle Bob’s funeral or a job interview in a Grateful Dead tie-dye shirt from Woodstock. Wearing a suit means wearing a tie, which means having to know how to tie one.
The business world has undoubtedly become more casual, but this skill will never disappear. Don’t be the guy who takes his tie off and leaves it tied (just loosened) in the closet so you can slip it on next time. Learn the proper way. You learned how to tie your shoelaces, and you can learn how to tie a necktie.
Life is one big negotiation! If negotiating isn’t a skill you’re good at, certain situations can be a disaster. Just about everything in life has the potential to be negotiated. Salaries, vacation time, rental cars, hotel rooms, new car purchases…you name it, and it is negotiable.
Practice and learn this skill at an early age. The earlier, the better. It will benefit you immensely in the long-run.
Tell a joke
I am envious of a good comedian or someone who tells a good joke. My problem is that I hear a good joke and can’t remember it or recall it when I need to. Laughter is an excellent form of interaction and generally puts people at ease. Unfortunately, joke-telling has become a lost skill due to the internet and invention of the meme and GIF.
Having a couple of good jokes is a skill that you can use at any time and will help you stand out from others. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like to laugh.
Change a tire
If you’ve gotten this far in life without having to change a tire, you’re lucky. We’ve all gotten a bit lazy since the introduction of AAA, but it’s critical in an emergency to know how to change your tire. Remember my discussion earlier about cell phone coverage? If you’re in the middle of the desert and you get a flat, you need to know how to change the tire.
Sometimes you might just be pressed for time, and waiting for a repair just won’t cut it. Reach into your trunk, pull out the tire iron, and get started.
Open a bottle without an opener
Have you ever been stuck somewhere and had a cooler full of cold beer and realized you forgot an opener? This happened to me a few years ago at the beach. I had to get “MacGyver” and open them with a beach chair, but it worked. I’m not suggesting you carry a beach chair around with you just in case, but it is good to know some other options. The bonus is you can look pretty cool doing so!
Basic First Aid
Imagine your in the wilderness, and you cut or injure yourself. Knowing a skill like basic first-aid and mean the difference between life and death. An improperly dressed wound can become infected and cause you much more trouble than taking time to learn basic first aid. Cuts, bruises, scrapes, taping an ankle or knee are all skills you can use at home or out on the road. Invest in an excellent first aid kit as well and carry it in your car at all times. Here is a first aid kit I use.
Let’s hope you never utilize this skill where you need to build shelter somewhere to survive the night. I feel as though this is a skill I would excel in considering my ability to construct things coupled with the fact that I have watched every season of Survivor. A good shelter can help protect you from the elements such as rain and cold and provide you the necessary cover you need to stay as comfortable as possible. Keep in mind location when building shelter and try to elevate yourself off the ground whenever possible.
Change your oil
Changing your oil is one of the most important things you can do to preserve the engine of your car. Though changing your oil might not be something you want to do yourself all the time, it does offer you a chance to save a bit of money while feeling “manly” at the same time. You don’t have to be an expert on engines to perfect this skill. A little bit of research on the internet and a YouTube video or two can walk you through the process.
At this point, everyone should know how to do CPR. This goes way beyond the basic first aid that we discussed earlier. This is actual lifesaving. Do yourself and others around you a favor and take a CPR class. It could mean the difference between someone living or dying.
Make a cocktail
You don’t need to be a professional bartender, but you should have a few “go-to” cocktails that you know how to make should the need arise. Wouldn’t you like to be the hit at your next house party or be able to volunteer to jump behind your friends’ bar should he or she need some help? An excellent place to start would be learning how to make a good margarita or even something simple like a rum punch or Mailbu Bay Breeze or Old Fashioned.
Mom will not be around forever to iron your clothes. If you want to look like an unprofessional slob, then continue to leave the house with wrinkled clothes. If not, then learn how to work an iron. Just for clarification, hanging your wrinkled clothes in the bathroom while you shower, hoping the steam will work some magic is not an option. Take the time to learn this skill, and you will always be guaranteed to look more professional and put together.
I was forced to learn how to iron in college when I started interviewing in my last year. Much of my learning was trial and error, but I have become quite the master these days!
Cut down a tree
Timber! Cutting down a tree takes more than just swinging an ax and running. You have to know the proper way to fall the tree making sure it doesn’t wind up in your living room or on top of your neighbors Corvette. Learning the right technique will make your life easier and create a more safe experience for everyone. Never climb a tree if you are not adequately attached via safety ropes. I have heard stories of professionals hurting themselves, cutting down trees, and occasionally see a neighbor doing something stupid with a chainsaw.
Jumpstart a car
A car battery always dies at the most inopportune times. It’s usually below zero outside, and you’ve just left your office for the night, anticipating your hour-long commute home in bumper to bumper traffic. You open the car and notice that the interior light isn’t going on. “That’s weird, you think.” Then you turn the key and nothing! CRAP!
This isn’t a problem if you know how to jumpstart your car. It’s simple to do, and everything is color-coded — red wire to red wire and black wire to black wire. The hardest point is usually flagging someone down willing to lend their car to help.
Let’s face it, in this day and age, everyone should know how to swim. We enrolled our children in swim classes when they were old enough to get in the water. The sooner, the better. You never know when your car is going to go off the side of the road into a river or if you’re going to be pulled out into the ocean at the beach.
Some people decide to learn how to swim just for the health benefits. Whatever the case, learn how to do a basic stroke that you might need to stay out of trouble. There are stories every year of people being caught in a flood or swept out to sea. Don’t be a statistic and learn how to swim.
It’s best to learn from an expert, so sign up for lessons at a local YMCA or swim club.
Throw a punch
Self-defense is something you learn and hope you never have to use. It’s like learning to shoot a firearm. It’s good to know, but you hope the situation never arises that you need to use what you’ve learned. However, if you do need to defend yourself, it’s way better to know how to then not. Improperly throwing a punch may be worse than not throwing a punch at all, so learn the proper techniques.
Boxing and self-defense classes are offered in gyms and fitness centers across the country. Sign up and learn the right way.
I hope you found this list of 20 Skills All Men Should Know useful. Keep in mind that though some of these skills are for surviving, many can help you in your regular life. What else do you think should be on the list? Let me know in the comments below.