Nice Guy Reform School – The Number One Problem I See In Guys With Problem Relationships

Ripley: How long after we’re declared overdue can we expect a rescue?

Hicks: [pause] Seventeen days.

Hudson: Seventeen *days?* Hey man, I don’t want to rain on your parade, but we’re not gonna last seventeen *hours!* Those things are gonna come in here just like they did before. And they’re gonna come in here…

Ripley: Hudson!

Hudson:… and they’re gonna come in here AND THEY’RE GONNA GET US!

Ripley: Hudson! This little girl survived longer than that with no weapons and no training.

[to Newt]

Ripley: Right?

[Newt apes a salute]

Hudson: Why don’t you put her in charge?

Aliens (1986) source:

When guys come to me with their problems and relationship dilemmas, before I even open the email I know what’s missing. I know what’s wrong.

Same thing that’s missing in your relationship. Same thing that’s missing at your job. Same reason even in the highest eschelons of team sports (despite tons of individual excellence) excellence as a group is very rare.

What’s missing?


And leadership is especially problematic for the Nice Guy.

In this article, I’m going to give you the basics of what leadership is and what it’s not. Then I’ll give you step one.

The form leadership takes in relationships is a particular brand that I call Steering. And plain and simple, Steering is making decisions. Just like in a car. Do I speed up? Slow down? Go through that yellow light? Should I take the highway, or stay on the back roads? Is this a good time to take the scenic route?

And ultimately it comes down to a really simple idea: given the reality that I understand about the current situation, what do I believe is the best way to get us to where we are going?

Some things that Steering is not. Steering is not:

  • Bullying
  • Getting your way
  • Being right
  • Being superior
  • Being obeyed

Some things Steering is…

  • Having a place to go
  • Having a plan to get there
  • Being able to invite others along
  • Being able to respond
  • Being able to stretch, grow, fail, look stupid, change, go to plan B, or plan Z and do what ever it takes within your values and beliefs to make it all happen.
  • Being unwilling to compromise on your values
  • Being unwilling to settle for less than you really want

Those last three are especially important. Because I see them sideline a lot of guys and relationships. So I want you to read those lists again. And really think about some times you have been trying to Steer. And then I want you to think about how different your life would be if you knew how to effectively execute those principles.

Now, before we close, let’s give you step one in starting to learn Steering.


You need practice. And the tool for practice is the Secret Identity Project.

How the Secret Identity Project works:

1. Pick a project from your interests and hobbies. (ie. Learn to play the trumpet.)

2. Schedule practice sessions with at least one other person at least once a week. (Sign up for lessons at the music store.)

3. Pick a goal to complete between 20 and 30 days from today. (Learn one song.)

4. Design a performance test in front of other people. (Perform your song on open mike night live at the local microbrewery.)

5. Don’t tell your girl about this.

If she asks, don’t lie, just downplay it. Minimize it. Tell her: It’s nothing, just something I’m trying. Tell her as little as possible. Chances are she’ll roll her eyes and ignore it. She might make a powerplay over the time you are spending away from worshipping her. That’s the idea. Don’t back down. But be classy.

Now some guys will notice that you are not really leading anyone else in this homework. That is true, but you are leading yourself. You are also being challenged to schedule practices. To make time for something that is important only to you. That’s the other idea.

So grab your Steering wheel.

Start your engine.

Be Great.

Natasha M. McKnight

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