MORE Rules Every Man Should Live By

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Is being a gentleman a dead art? I know, that’s pretty dramatic. Unnecessary drama aside, I do sometimes wonder if the art of being a gentleman is dead… or at the very least wasting away in a
hospital bed somewhere hooked up to life support. Maybe it died with guys like Frank Sinatra and Cary Grant. They set the mark. I think maybe that’s why I wrote the first article, "Rules Every Man
Should Live By." I wanted to pass some old, forgotten sentiments on to my sons. But, I found there’s so much more I need to tell them. I won’t be here forever and the mark I leave on this world
will be measured by the men they become....

Submitted: September 20, 2018

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Submitted: September 20, 2018

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Is being a gentleman a dead art?

I know, that’s pretty dramatic. Unnecessary drama aside, I do sometimes wonder if the art of being a gentleman is dead… or at the very least wasting away in a hospital bed somewhere hooked up to life support. It’s like the Golden Age of the Gentleman has passed and all that remains are those brave few that are clinging to some old, forgotten sentiments. Maybe it died with guys like Frank Sinatra and Cary Grant. They set the mark. I think maybe that’s why I wrote the first article, "Rules Every Man Should Live By." I wanted to pass those old, forgotten sentiments on to my sons. Turns out, it was the most read and best received article I have done to date. That’s what prompted this follow up article. That and there’s so much more I need to tell them. I won’t be here forever and in a lot of ways the mark I leave on this world will be measured by the men they become. Let’s get started.

MORE Rules Every Man Should Live By:

There’s power in putting pen to paper. I believe that. When you take the time to sit down at a desk and write out what you want to accomplish and how you are going to do it, you are making a firm commitment to yourself and to the universe. It’s now tangible; you can hold in in your hands... it’s more real than it was just moments before. The “realness” of the commitment to yourself is what brings you back to it and makes you want to keep the promise you made. Here’s some tips to remember: Goals can be big or small, long term or short. Often, your goals feed into each other and the smaller, short termed ones are what make the larger ones a reality. Make sure you set a deadline for the overall goal as well as each of the actions you are going to take to get there. Deadlines create urgency and will keep you on track. Be firm in your commitment to the goal but be fluid and flexible about how you get there. It’s ok to step back in a couple weeks and say, “this isn’t working.” If that’s the case, change the actions… but never waiver on the goal. Last one, revisit the goals daily. Place them where you can see them each morning and take the time to read them before you start the day. Keeps you focused.

You are judged in this life. Not by your thoughts and not by your intentions. You are judged based on what you do. That’s what matters. Keeping your word is a big part of that. Everyone is always watching, that’s just the way society works. So, if you commit something to someone and fail to follow through, that action is what you will be known for. Likewise, if you make the effort and work hard to do everything you say you will, you will be known as a man that values his honor. You can lose money and earn more. You can lose your home to a fire and rebuild. The one thing you can’t get back once it is gone is your trustworthiness… your honor. Protect it.

“People with good intentions make promises. People with good character keep them.”

3. Don’t use the words like “frankly”; it implies you aren’t straight forward to begin with. In the first article, one of the rules called for you to “Be Kind.” That’s still a golden rule. But, don’t be afraid to be blunt when necessary. In fact, saying what you think and being honest, even brutally honest, can sometimes be the greatest kindness you can show someone. Often, that’s not what they want to hear, but it’s usually exactly what they need to hear. It’s been said that the truth spoken sharply is always better than a lie whispered sweetly. I’m not sure who said it, they aren’t wrong.

Also, speaking your mind is often the only way to truly get what you want. People, even well-intentioned people, can’t read your mind. To get what you want or need, sometimes you just have to grow a pair and say exactly what it is you’re after. And another thing - don’t be afraid to ask for anything. The absolute worst thing that can happen is someone says no. If you don’t ask, no is a guarantee. I had a mentor once that said, “A closed mouth doesn’t get fed.” Ask and be blunt about it.

4. “Yes” is never the answer to some questions. Your wife walks in and says, “Does this make me look fat?” You actually may be thinking, “yeah, it kind of does. But, if you’re asking, you already know that.” Think it all you want; do NOT say it. The answer is always “no”. Or she may ask, “Do you think she is prettier than I am?” Again, you can think about reminding her that the girl in question is a fashion model and how 99 percent of all men think that she is, in fact, prettier than she is. Do NOT say it. The answer is “no, of course not.”

I know what you are thinking: “Rule number four just said…”. Yes, it did. However, a wise man knows when to apply rules and when to let their self-preservation instinct take over. This is one such instance. You have been warned.

The thing about perfect is that nothing ever lives up to its impossibly high standards. Nobody and nothing is ever going to be perfect and if you spend too much time looking to make every little detail perfect, you’re never going to get anything done. And done is what you need. Done is often what you’re paid for. I’m not telling you to half-ass anything, not at all. Do it and do it to the very best of your ability. What I’m saying is you don’t have to look for perfection in every detail. I think this is why so many people start things and never finish them. They get fired up about getting started on a new plan or project and then, as they are working through the process of doing, they realize that things aren’t lining up with their expectations of perfection. They get frustrated and then they quit. Pride comes from doing a job well done. My Dad said that. Notice the word used is done… not started. Loosen your grip and focus more on getting your task completed and let the details, even the imperfect ones, take care of themselves.

6. Own at least one suit and a couple of sport coats. This is, of course, unless you have a job that requires you be suited up each day. But, on average this is what a man needs in his closet. If you only have one suit, make sure it’s black. A black suit is pretty much a requisite for funerals or black-tie type events. It used to be a tuxedo for the later, but more and more men are moving away from that. Honestly, it will more often be the former and a classic, well-fitting suit is the go-to standard if someone dies. That said, add a colored shirt and a bright tie, or no tie, and it can get you into weddings or cocktail parties without missing a beat. The sport coats need to be of a design that will go with multiple colors of dress slacks. That way, two can turn into several different outfits. This is particularly useful for business trips where you may need a coat for a few days in row. You can mix and match coats with pants and nobody will notice.

Unless you get just terrible service, always tip a little more than is called for. For one thing, these poor souls are doing one of the hardest jobs out there. I’m not talking about waiting tables; I mean dealing with your ass. Well, not yours in particular but dealing with people overall. It’s not easy to be a servant to a table of people. Multiply that by however many tables they have been assigned and compound that by how many hours they have been on their feet (often double shifts) and it becomes a nightmare. Better yet, they are paid crap for wages. In this case, just a little kindness can go a long way in restoring a server’s faith in humanity. And if they happen to mess something up or bring out something just not quite the way you wanted it, remember they are human. Just like you. So, if the little Tip Calculator on your phone calls for 15 percent... give them 20 percent and consider it an investment in karma.

8. Learn to drink Whiskey or Scotch and enjoy a good cigar. I’m not really a drinker but I often find myself in situations, parties or work functions, where having a drink is the thing to do. Now, there’s a lot of drinks out there and a lot of guys are going for the new age hand crafted crap. Don't. Choose something simple and classic that demands respect—a good Whiskey or an aged Scotch. These drinks, like a good man, are multi-faceted. Sure, they taste good, but they also have the power of perception. Let me explain. Say you walk into a party and you see people mulling around like they do. One group of guys is standing there in t-shirts holding craft beers. Another small group is standing around in tank tops holding fruity little drinks with umbrellas. And last, there is a group of guys in button down shirts, one is in a sport coat, and they are standing there holding glasses with two fingers worth of Scotch in them. Which group looks successful? These drinks give the perception of manhood and success. Learn to drink like a man. The same is true of smoking a cigar. It’s social and it’s often a way to bond with other guys. But do not confuse this with smoking cigarettes or using one of those damned vapor machines. Both are annoying to everyone else, even if they don’t say so.

Constantly having it out looking for your next dopamine fix is rude. There is a time and place for social media and that time is not anytime you can have an honest-to-God, real conversation with another human being. It’s like we are losing our interpersonal skills; people don’t know how to just put away they’re phone and have a meaningful interaction. I know, getting a new “Like,” whatever your “ding” of choice may be, can be addicting. Seriously. Scientist have proven it releases dopamine, as mentioned above. It's the same chemical that is released in the brain when we finish a good workout, wow the boss, or get that girl to smile back. It’s a rush of happiness and contentment and it is an addictive substance. The problem is that is isn’t real. You haven’t actually accomplished anything; you’ve just tricked your brain into believing you have. So, you go back again and again looking and checking your status hoping for a fix… all the while missing out on what’s going on around you. Life doesn’t happen in your phone; it’s everywhere around you. It’s measured in moments and if you have your nose stuck in your phone, you’re going to miss it. Oh, and did I say it’s rude?

10. Never say anything important via text message. I don’t believe the inventors of texting had any idea what kind of Frankenstein monster they were creating when they brought that beast to life. That said, it is a very convenient way to communicate, if done correctly. Obviously don’t do it while driving. It’s not worth it; I promise it can wait. But the other rule is this—if it’s important, or if it’s going to someone important to you, don’t send it via text. It’s about respect for the other person, and yourself. I know it’s easier, but that’s not necessarily what life should be about. Sometimes the best road, the more appropriate road, is the harder road to travel down. And that’s how it should be, it builds character. So, if you’re checking to see what time they get off from work, great. Bang out a quick text. But if you’re asking them out on a date or canceling plans? Don’t text. Give them the courtesy of a phone call at the very least; speaking to them in person is best if possible. The respect you receive in this world is in direct proportion with the respect you hand out.

11. Don’t do anything you have to keep a secret. I was speaking to a good friend a couple of nights ago and we were discussing the past, loves lost, and rehashing old dreams. The topic of work came up and my friend mentioned he had been flirting with a girl in his office. He’s married. I pointed that fact out to him. Pleading his case, my friend said, “Well, we haven’t actually done anything wrong. Just told some shady jokes and flirted a little. It’s harmless.” I let him finish and asked him if he’d told his wife. “God no. Are you kidding?” Then, your cheating, pal.

I’m no Angel; I know that, and you should too. However, through my trials and tribulations, the one thing I have learned is this: if you feel like it’s something you can’t tell someone else or have to keep hidden, there’s a good reason that feeling is there. It may be guilt or a sense of betrayal your feeling, or it may just be fear of their reaction. Regardless, if your gut is telling you it’s wrong, listen to it. It can prevent a lot of heartache.

12. Don’t load up on the bread or chips at a restaurant.You’ll regret it every time. Save room for dinner.

Generically, reading sharpens the mind and broadens your experience. But don’t read junk. Most of us don’t have a ton of time to spend reading, so make sure your book of choice adds value to your life either due to its contribution to the art or its educational subject matter. Both can be gratifying.

More specifically, you need to read Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich. The list of ways it can add value to your life is way too long to put in this article. But trust me, you’ll thank me later. Don’t listen to it or by the eBook… go out and buy a physical copy and take notes.

Gratitude, in all things, is the secret to success and happiness. Focusing on the things you are thankful for creates a sense of peace and positivity in your mind. Positive thoughts drive positive actions and lead to positive results. The flip side is an attitude that the universe owes you something. News flash: nobody, especially the universe, owes you anything. Thinking it does leads you to a dark place. A place where you bombard yourself with negative thoughts and as a result, live a negative place. You must create a sense of gratitude within yourself if you want to have a positive life. I guarantee you, if you look around, you will find a myriad of things to be grateful for. How about breathing for one? Can you walk, talk, hear? If you can, be grateful… a lot of people can’t. You don’t like your job? Hey, at least you have one. Does it pay your bills and put food in your mouth? Are there people out there that love you? Do you have someone you love? Do you have good friends? Is there a roof over your head? Did that blonde just smile at you? Be grateful, in all things… it can change your life.

15. Live so that you live on. The Ancient Greeks believed that as long as someone was still around that could tell your story, you were immortal. To them, every man died twice. The first time was when the breathing stopped; the second time was the last time his name was spoken. That’s profound, if you think about it. The problem is, we just don’t seem to get many opportunities to slay a dragon or win a war single handed today. So, the chances that a myth or legend will spring from the story of your life is, well, slim. But, that shouldn’t stop you from trying. Take chances. Kiss the girl. Drive too fast. Live. And more important than the rest, be a good man. I can think of no better compliment than for someone to say long after I’m gone that, “he was a good man.” Unless it’s “he taught his sons to be great men.” That would be nice too.

There you have it, the continuation of my list of Rules Every Man Should Live By. Like the first list, it’s not complete and it’s certainly not all encompassing. It’s not meant to be. Hell, it may not even be right. But my sincere hope is that you find something of value here… a little nugget of gold you can take away with you. That and maybe one day, when you’ve lived, you’ll pass it on to your sons, or daughters, with your own list of rules. Until then, remember the glory is in the effort. So, don’t ever stop trying to be better. Better friends, better fathers, better husbands… better men. 


© Copyright 2018 Mac Childs. All rights reserved.

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