Are You An Authentic Man? 3 of 3
Do you have these 16 (TIMELESS) qualities of an Authentic (Victorian) Man?
Test yourself against these questions to find out.
This is the third post in a three-part series on how to be authentically masculine.
I am troubled by much of what I see passing for masculine these days. Too often I see scenarios of the feminine defeating the masculine (which is silly, of course, since masculinity and femininity are complementary, not in competition) or scenarios in which good, solid, admirable masculinity is treated with derision.
My response was to ask if what was once considered masculine—at a time of unapologetic, chivalrous, courteous masculinity– is still considered masculine. I think it was the Victorians who really understood how to celebrate what is masculine, so I chose the Victorian age for my source material. It was a sort of experiment in which I decided to ask the question, “Is Victorian masculinity relevant to today’s world?”
I could think of no better Victorian model of masculinity than Rudyard Kipling’s poem, “If”, so I chose to list, in my own words, the qualities Kipling lists and comment on each of them to see how they would be received by a modern audience.
Some of the readers of my posts picked up on the Kipling connection immediately.
The first man to do so was one of The Ten Best Men I know.
Other mentors from whom I have learned much and who informed my commentaries on the qualities Kipling promotes in his timeless tribute to masculinity: Aristotle, Shakespeare, Jim Rohn, Jack Burress McGurk, Sterling Mutz, Sean Connery, Dale Carnegie, Napoleon Hill and Ian Fleming.
So… here is Part 3 of 3:
Eleventh, Recognition That Money is Not Real. Material Wealth is Temporary. Do you own your money or does your money own you? Do you own your car, your boat, your house, or do they own you? These are important questions because they get to who we are as men. They answer for us the question, “Am I my own man to command?” Do you use your possessions to control people, influence people, and intimidate people?
Aside from the very real fact that the U.S. economy is based on fiat currency that has no intrinsic value (that’s for another discussion at another time), all material wealth is temporary. There’ s a great saying, “Never love anything that can’t love you back.”
Material wealth can make life pleasant, but never let it own you.
Twelfth, Never. Complain. Do you complain? Stop. Decide today never to complain. Not when you lose, not when you’re tired, not when you’re in pain, not when you’re afraid. It doesn’t help you or anyone around you. It weakens you and weakens them. When you complain you just feel like… a complainer.
There is a very important difference between complaining and holding someone accountable or having high standards. You can apply high standards and bring an unacceptable situation to someone’s attention, but always do so in a positive way.
The complainer is the one who just wants to complain and doesn’t want to fix the problem.
Thirteenth, Endure. Can you grind it out when things are tough? Can you hang on simply by strength of your will? When you are in pain, do you endure by strength of will? Do you quit easily? Alternately, do you know the concept of “Winners quit?” This is knowing when to stop doing what is not working.
Endurance is not something we hear much about these days. Many successful men say that their willingness to endure hardship and disappointment was their single biggest cause of success. We hear a lot about overnight success and instant millionaires but these successes are rare. When they do occur they frequently become nightmares because the people who succeed quickly are not prepared to manage the decisions that come with success. Those decisions require time and effort to learn. Setbacks teach us wisdom. Having enough setbacks requires you endure and push through difficulty. In the army some soldiers said, “We don’t need to train to be miserable.” While we should not train solely to be miserable, we should recognize that hardship teaches us to function cheerfully when we are miserable. It strengthens our mental toughness.
Find joy in enduring through hardship.
Fourteenth, Be Courteous. Courtesy is different from politeness. It involves extra effort, it means you are being courtly and going out of your way to make others feel welcome, confident and safe. Are you courteous to all you meet? Do you treat lawyers, waiters, professors, C-level executives, teachers, workmen, bellmen, luggage handlers, doctors, garbage men and senators with equal courtesy? Do you treat everyone with equal courtesy, no matter what they can or cannot do for you?
A great business man, in comparing the national economy to a tide, once said, “When the tide goes out you can see who has been skinny dipping.” He meant, of course, that people frequently live on borrowed money, borrowed means, and use credit and artificial wealth to appear other than what they are. You may be surprised to learn how many men of great character occupy modest occupations. It is one of the benefits of an economic downturn is that we learn humility. We get to enjoy discovering men’s better natures when they, we all, experience setbacks.
When we treat all men with equal dignity we learn more.
Fifteenth, Guard Your Heart. Are your feelings frequently hurt? Do you take offense over insignificant slights? Do you imagine insults where none exist?
Some of this may be due to an over active ego or insecurity. However, if you seek to love others, which does take courage, you will open yourself to being misunderstood. Be ready. If you seek to love you may indeed find yourself hurt. Be tough while you love.
Recognize that if you care about others you will learn a lot but sometimes you will see the less attractive sides of human nature inspite of looking for the best in all men. There is a Spanish proverb that says to lock your heart with seven locks, both to protect yourself and to protect it. If you know yourself and know others and that we are all equally weak, you won’t be surprised at anything people do… so they won’t be able to hurt you.
Protect your heart without becoming hard-hearted.
Sixteenth, Moxie. Gameness. Keenness to Fight. Do you have the will to fight and win? Do you take winning, however you define it, personally and seriously? Have you allowed yourself to be lulled to sleep by a bureaucratic culture that prizes safety above all things?
We live in a time when job security is the most dangerous condition you can prize. Relying on someone else to provide for you is a very seductive concept, but what you lose when someone else provides you with a job is the confidence in yourself to find your own way. It is wise to use a stable job for limited objectives. It can provide security for your family. However, never forget that the rug can be pulled out from under you. If that happens you will have to rely on your wits and your determination to provide for yourself and those you lead and love. That requires resourcefulness, determination, grit and vision. Cultivate those qualities and you will triumph.
When the chips are down and it looks like everything is lost; dig in and give it all you have.