The Foundation of Fatherhood – Manliness
The inspiration for this blog are the small epiphanies I have had in life as a father, a husband, a professional and a man. In order to define legendary fatherhood, I think it is important to define manliness; because, manliness and fatherhood should be intertwined. A good father must be a good man and a good man will make a good father. This includes how to manage our relationships with others, how we perceive ourselves, how we make decisions and how we lead by example. This blog isn’t just for fathers, because it is a blog that should speak truth to mothers, leaders, managers and others.
I do not believe that any one person defines the perfect man. We all have our flaws, and it would be unwise to think that any of us can overcome all of them to live the perfect life. However, it is the ascent towards the definition of the perfect man that makes us great. Like the great coach Vince Lombardi once said:
“Gentlemen, we are going to relentlessly chase perfection, knowing full well we will not catch it, because nothing is perfect. But we are going to relentlessly chase it, because in the process we will catch excellence.”
In my opinion, honesty is the cornerstone of manliness. It is easy to think of honesty as simply being truthful, particularly how we communicate with others. However, honesty is much deeper than that. We need to be honest with ourselves, particularly when it comes to how we perceive things internally without societal norms pressuring us to feel differently. Last, we must act honestly. This means acting without hypocrisy, especially for those that look up to us as parents, managers and role-models.
“The first step towards greatness is honesty.” -Proverb
The reason that I think honesty is the most important trait of manliness is because it often defines our opinion of others. Think about someone you know who is honest vs. dishonest. Does it define their character for you? Think about the following professions: lawyers, politicians, car salesmen, etc. What is the common perceived trait that defines them all? Dishonesty. Lacking integrity. These are the reasons these professions often rank at the bottom of public opinion – because they are untrustworthy. I do not believe that the greatest men of history have been untrustworthy or lacking integrity. Regardless of all the mistakes a man can make in life, it is often a man’s honesty and integrity that defines him eternally.
Being Honest with Yourself
Here is a story that may resonate with others. When I graduated high school as drum major and former lead of the school musical, I didn’t exactly see that as being popular and I desperately wanted to change others’ perception of me in college. As a freshman at Lehigh University, I partied, missed classes, joined a fraternity and while I did take part in some of the school’s theatre productions, I eventually stopped trying to be who I was and tried to be cool. It backfired terribly. I was depressed and I barely graduated after switching majors multiple times. I was not being honest with myself.
It took me a long time to realize that embracing myself, and who I was inside, is what made me happy. Not only that, it made me productive. I can’t thank my wife, Ashley, enough for loving me for who I am and allowing me to embrace my weirdness. We all need to embrace our inner weirdness and I wholeheartedly believe it exists in all of us. The sooner we learn to be honest with ourselves about what makes us happy, the sooner we will be able to really take advantage of life and enjoy living each day to the fullest. Being honest with yourself allows you to break through tired stereotypes of manhood and be a true man. You need to love yourself before you can come to love others.
As a Sales Director, I also have learned that acting honestly is the way to be a great leader – and being a great leader is definitely a manly attribute. When we think of the greatest leaders of history, names like George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Alexander the Great, Martin Luther King, Jr., we can also say they have many qualities of great men. They are all men of integrity, and integrity is built on the culmination of actions and words. As a leader in my business, I cannot ask salespeople to do things that I cannot do. If I want them to follow certain guides and scripts, I need to follow those same guides and scripts. If I want them to come to work early and be productive all day – I must also come to work early and show them I am productive all day. I also need to reward them with a high-five when they do what I ask. That is acting honestly and it is not allowing hypocrisy to creep into our actions.
As a father, this is doubly important, because your children will grow up to mimic your behaviors. How can you ask a child to stop talking with their mouth full if you do the same? How do you stop a child from cursing if you curse in their presence? The amount of bases this covers is staggering. Consider the things we teach children: patience, empathy, sharing, respect, courage, compassion and so many more. We need to practice those things just as we try to teach them to our children – or we are simply not acting honestly. To me, this defines manliness more than any other stereotype that still exists.
On Being a Role-Model
Of course there are many other things that can be considered manly, and I certainly plan to write about them in future posts. However, I believe that honesty is the foundation for manliness. Not just that, it is a great foundation for any person. If my goal is to write a blog about achieving legendary status as a father, then honesty is a great head start. First, your kids won’t ever be guessing about how you feel, because you will be honest with them. Honesty doesn’t mean having to be rude or nasty, but it does mean teaching your kids to being open to constructive criticism. Honesty will allow you to build strong relationships with your children during those years when they want to rebel against their parents. It is a strong bond that is built on trustworthiness and integrity. Finally, it also means allowing your kids to fail, learn and grow from their mistakes. If we are honest, we will allow them to understand that life isn’t perfect and they need to make mistakes in order to learn from them.
I hope that you have enjoyed this post and that you enjoy this blog. It is a labor of love that I have started with my family’s help. So, what do you believe are the traits that define manliness? Please leave a comment below and subscribe to this blog to you never miss a post!