It was just another basketball game to me. I had coached so many with mixed results that I had sworn not to lose my cool and get emotional again. With 15 seconds left in the game the leading scorer on the other team backed my post player into the lane and scored a lay-up with ease, they were up by two points. I called a time out. I gave specific instructions on what my team needed to do and how to do it in order for us to win. I broke the huddle with a positive “Our time on three”. As the team turned to walk back on the court I heard one of my players on the bench yell to my post player “man-up ya’ll! We got this”. That’s when I knew I had to write this book.
It’s a simple phrase on the surface one that is spoken in every setting that I have ever been in. Whether it’s the halls of corporate America, the ivory towers of academia, or the hallowed hardwoods of the basketball court, “man-up” and all of its connotations are there. Almost spiritual in it’s ability to pull one in, Zen like in the way it forces the person who hears it to respond, “man-up!” commands attention in every respect. Upon hearing those two seemingly innocent words the listener will attempt to summon energy, faith, mental and physical fortitude and do battle against any and every obstacle. To do anything less would be considered an embarrassment, a failure and bring into question one’s manhood.
I am writing this book because there is a part of me that is fed up with hearing “man-up” as a means for motivating a male, or expressing camaraderie. I thought that I could write a book or even a series that would help people understand that we have got it wrong. I want to help people see that the problem is the collective. We who give license to and validate abusive phrases like “man-up” by saying it is okay.
There is a part of me that is accepting my inability to alter enough perceptions so that we could eliminate the phrase from use. I can only hope to give us time to pause, and reflect on what it means to “man-up”. To this end I offer the following replacement acronym for those who still see it as necessary to use the phrase “man-up”. The next time you feel a need to motivate a male into being better than he is presently demonstrating, instead of being derogative to our women and asking him to stop acting like a bi**h, why not really offer him a helping hand? Ask him to Master And Nurture (his) Unlimited Potential! Remind him that he is a being with unlimited potential and regardless of what he is experiencing at present he is only a thought away from tapping into his unlimited potential and having or becoming whatever he wants. I want us all to M.A.N.-U.P.!