Lewis Howes had it all. He ran a multi-million dollar business, his podcast was topping the charts, he played on the men’s USA handball team, and had just released his best-selling self-development book, The School of Greatness.

From the outside looking in, Lewis was successful in every aspect of his life. But in reality, he felt lost, lacked fulfillment, and was suffering on the inside. 


Photo Credit: Lewis Howes/Instagram

As Tony Robbins said, “Success without fulfillment is the ultimate failure.” This was Lewis’ situation but instead of ignoring his feelings he went searching for the answers. 

He found that he was unhappy because he had been wearing masks disguising his true self. In his latest book, The Mask of Masculinity, Lewis breaks down the nine most common masks and how they can hold men back from true happiness.  

Below are three powerful lessons I learned from reading The Mask of Masculinity.

1. We All Wear Masksmask-masculinity-lewis-howes

We all wear masks in one or several areas of our lives. While sometimes we have the belief these masks are helping us, they can actually hurt us from creating a truly great life and relationships.

Society has created an image of how real men should act, think, and behave. It’s shown on TV, movies, social media, and often times taught by the generation of men before us.

Here are the nine masks that men wear:

Stoic Mask

This is the mask of masculinity. Society has taught men that showing emotion is feminine and not suited for men.

Athletic Mask

Growing up, sports are a way to show your masculinity and power by beating others during athletic competitions. This is a way to show superiority to peers.

Aggressive Mask

Men typically get angrier at everyday situations than women. This mask demands that men show aggression when they are angry.

Sexual Mask

This mask is all about sexuality and how men have been taught to approach success in the world of dating and sex. 

Joker Mask

Think of the class clown in school. The Joker mask demands that men use humor to dodge deep issues and deflect instead of looking inward for the answer.

Know-it-all Mask

This is the mask that tries to help you prove your superiority through intelligence.

Invincible Mask

The invincible mask is similar to the stoic mask and demands that men show no signs of emotional or physical pain.

Material Mask

This mask is about men aiming to buy material goods and focus on accumulation instead of other valuable contributions.

Alpha Mask

The final mask is all about portraying an image of domination over one’s peers.

Which masks do you wear? How are they holding you back? The first step is identifying the masks that affect your life. The next step is removing them. As Lewis said, “It will make you better, make you happier, and make you more successful.”

2. Don’t Ignore Your Feelings

Lewis, like the majority of men, tried to hide his feelings and tucked them away instead of embracing them head-on. But inevitably, hiding deep emotions caught up with him.

Instead of ignoring your feelings, choose to embrace them. Explore your emotions, question them, and become aware of them. By dealing with your emotions, you can lift a big mental burden and find emotional strength.

Depending on your past, this issue might be easier for some than others. In such a busy world, it’s easy to ignore feelings that might bring on pain or fear and focus on something like social media. It’s lazy, requires no vulnerability, and gives you a quick hit of dopamine. But, as Lewis found out, if you hide your feelings, they will eventually bubble up to the surface in a very negative way.  

Learn to love and accept yourself by spending time alone. This could be a hike in nature, a daily meditation ritual or journaling. The more you explore your inner self, the quicker you can learn to take off the masks that are holding you back.  

3. Always Be Yourself


A post shared by Lewis Howes (@lewishowes) on

The last lesson is simple: always choose to be yourself.

This is much easier said than done. With social media and the internet, we are bombarded with subliminal messaging about how we should be. But in reality, all the people that are admired most in the world are themselves. For example, Gary Vaynerchuk is a great example of authenticity, as he’s never afraid to say what’s on his mind or challenge a popular opinion.

The same should go for your life and self-image. Don’t try to be like anyone else. You can mirror the habits and activities of people you admire, but don’t get lost chasing perfection or a made-up ideal created by society.

Once you explore your inner self, you will realize that you are more than enough. You don’t need to spend any energy trying to be someone that you aren’t or try to impress others.

The Main Takeaway

It’s important to identify these masks so you can be true to yourself and live your best life.

For Lewis, this meant being more approachable, creating deeper connections, and being more vulnerable to others. What could it mean for you? Remember, it’s likely that you are wearing more than one mask at a time, and possible that you use them interchangeably.  

Which of these masks do you wear the most? What would change in your life if you removed one or several of them?

Be sure to check out The Mask of Masculinity to learn more.