The Standard #32

CloudsTo be certain, there may exist a myriad of reasons from which a gentleman can derive the proper motivation for achievement and success. His motivation may arrive from varying sources that are both intensely intimate and personal. And certainly, no one should hold the presumption that they can dictate how the aforementioned gentleman summons that motivation. Nonetheless, perhaps we can gently suggest that one’s inspiration for greatness originate from love, compassion, and positivity. To extract inspiration from anger, hurt, and bitterness is not wise stewardship of one’s time and energy. To enjoy the beautiful rewards of future successes, a gentleman must subject himself to painful reminders of the past. Is such a place worth revisiting? Humbly, I submit that it is not. An accomplished gentleman need not be driven by pain to succeed, as his greatness is deeply rooted in the affirmation that he is already great to begin with; only a positive focus is required to bring it to fruition. To embrace pain and suffering in effort to be successful is counterintuitive, and psychological wounds will never be afforded appropriate healing if one chooses to persistently pick at the scabs. You’re better than that. You are already great. Positively focus on your happiness and accomplishments. Going forward, your pain will not be empowered. Your time and effort will be better utilized because you have better things to do – like succeeding. Let’s go!

The Standard #18


Jesse OwensFirmly standing upright under an unrelenting, blistering storm of vitriolic contempt and caustic distrust, the successful gentleman remains undeterred in his journey towards triumph. Triumph – born of an unwavering resolve and complete assurance in his abilities; this gentleman cannot be denied what he has tirelessly striven for. And despite ardent attempts to trivialize his work, undermine his legitimacy, or boldly question his intellect; ignorance and hatred will be trumped every time. Believe it. No amount of mockery can shake his confidence. He is resolute. He is intelligent. He is courageous. More importantly, he recognizes that there exists individuals consumed with hubris and guided by conceit, which ultimately hastens their downfall. So, he stays in his lane and does what he does best – win. Are you a winner?

The Standard #31


MountainIt is wise for a gentleman to avoid an ascension that strays him amongst mountains of hubris; an ascension that betrays his remembrance of the ever distant valleys beneath his feet. Gentlemen, be not thoughtlessly mistaken, your climb towards success does not preclude the possibility of an agonizing fall. Depending upon the heights that one rises, arrogance may silently corrupt your character, and thus the descent could be resolutely sharp, steep and abrupt. This is not say that a gentleman should not achieve or strive for the greatest heights of success or prosperity. To be certain, a gentleman can certainly ride amongst the highest clouds of accomplishment, and yet remain grounded in modesty and humility. It is the appreciation of the valleys that makes the view from above that much more beautiful. It is the appreciation of the valleys that assuage any fear of falling. Because, if a gentleman so finds himself in the midst of a certain plunge, his spirit is steeled with the knowledge that he will rise again. Conversely, a successful gentleman may never experience any affecting gravity upon his achievements. Nonetheless, the underlying message is steeped in consistency, never lose sight of your origins and appreciate the valleys of one’s life that have transformed into triumph. And if you are not there yet, don’t worry, you will be. See you at the top.

The Standard #3

harlemThe knowledgeable gentleman comprehends that his image does not begin with how society views him. Rather, the gentleman’s image begins with how he sees himself. He alone determines and dictates the manner in which he is presented to the world. When he gazes into the mirror, the reflection of greatness should readily greet him. It does not begin with the clothing he chooses to attire himself in, nor the vehicle he selects to navigate city streets. Not the place of employment where he makes a living. Not the amount of money presently residing in his bank account. Why? Well, because character starts with his self-worth. His esteem is not erected upon a mountain of biodegradable materialism – subject to decay and waste. No, the gentleman’s image is based on gentlemanly fundamentals that are concrete and certain. Virtue. Honor. Principle. Forthrightness. The Gentlemen’s Standard.

Style & Substance – Gentleman’s Animal Print

Paul Smith Animal Print PS

Paul Smith

In the interest of being open and honest with the public, for the record, I am definitely not a proponent of wearing animal print. Now, I cannot place a definitive finger on the reason, but the prospect of fashioning myself in zebra or cheetah hide is not at all appealing. Even when slyly utilized as a discreet accessory, the presentation leaves much to be desired. Perhaps it is my slightly conservative sartorial leanings that prejudice my viewpoint. As I have stated in the past, the sartorial realm offers no hard and fast rules or regulations, everything is a matter of personal preference. Therefore, I cannot dispatch a significant argument opposing animal print, other than calling attention to the distinct possibility of it being a trendy novelty. It could exhibit some meaningful longevity. Conversely, its popularity could be brief. Nevertheless, if you have the luxury of possessing disposable income, and your personal style is a little adventurous, animal print may suit you just fine. And for those gentlemen that prefer subtlety, we will stick with boring checks, dots, and stripes in the trusty repertoire.

The Standard #1

homeless-sidewalkAn honorable gentleman fully comprehends the concept of exhibiting class, sympathy, and compassion. During episodes of great tragedy or human misery, the humane gentleman believes in charity and generosity. It is second nature. The considerate gentleman does not greedily seize upon the opportunity to criticize, politicize, or monetize unfortunate realities. His moral fiber is fortified with virtue and humility. He understands that the weight of life may prove too great for some individuals to bear. Alas, he has been blessed with robust shoulders that can bear life’s burdens, and that fact is not lost on him. He is blessed to be a blessing to those in need. Because, benevolence is a character trait that is not foreign to him, nor is it casually minimized. It is far too easy, agonizingly too simple to take what life has pleasantly afforded us for granted. Sometimes, perspective becomes distorted when the lens has become clouded with prosperity. Allow your wisdom to correct your focus. Your current situation could be dramatically different-and not in a good way. Be thankful. And always remember to assist others who may be in need. It could be you that requires the empathetic generosity of a stranger one day.

The Standard #30

respectA man who fails to meet or exceed the level of expectation that he smugly demands of others should abstain from such demands in the first place. Intoxicated by grandiose delusions of false importance, said individual will never earn  modicum of respect from his peers, as he will be viewed as a fraud lacking substance and depth. Effective leadership does not consist of hollow rhetoric and anemic work ethic. Effective leadership does not belittle or ignore other viewpoints. An acolyte of arrogance, a practitioner of presumption and pretentiousness – please expect the absence of any deference from other individuals. You will duly receive what you give. A gentleman shall be judged by his deeds and examples. Ensure that you uphold the same standard you will hold others accountable for. Otherwise, a gentleman will never be an owner of credibility. Own your standard. Reinforce your credibility. Rightfully earn the respect from your peers.

The Standard #22

Malcolm+in+hatI am perfectly cognizant of the reality that traditions change as time progresses with each successive decade after the last. Behavior and culture from, say, 1950 is decidedly different from that of 2013. Nevertheless, there exists a few key behavioral attributes that have weathered the ever-transforming landscape of gentlemanly conduct. Whether referred to it as displaying the correct etiquette or possessing proper manners; there are certain standards that are resolutely non-negotiable. For instance, it is widely assumed that a gentleman should remove his hat when entering a home, a restaurant, an institution of worship, or any venue that demands deference. Walking into a funeral with your cap twisted to the side? Stop it. Wearing an over-sized cap at the dinner table? Absolutely not! Now, if this is common knowledge to you, I would highly recommended forwarding this post to any guy that is oblivious to this fact. Seriously, you would be surprised, or perhaps not, at the number of men who are unaware of hat etiquette. Now, will the world implode if you rock your hat indoors. Certainly not. But that is not point. It is paramount that a gentleman display proper form, especially in the presence of lady. And it also silently communicates to a young, impressionable male that you have code that entails dignity, respect, and tact – never a bad thing to have.

The Standard #29

successHumility. The act of possessing a modest opinion of one’s importance, understanding the complex context of life, and respecting the reality that other individuals may be better at some things than you. Gentlemen, please don’t be mislead by the boisterous musings of silly folk; so enamored by their own greatness that they cannot recognize their own shortcomings. Sometimes a man must recognize his faults and limitations. There is no shame in that. One must understand that embracing humility does not make a gentleman weak, actually, humility strengthens you. It keeps you grounded. It keeps you focused – on the important things in life. It is brazen arrogance that renders a gentleman vulnerable. Trust this: Keep living and life will eventually happen to you. And life can be the greatest administrator of humility. Recognize your position in life, and even if your station ranks well above others, discipline yourself in humility, as the folly of vanity can ultimately become your undoing. You don’t want to discover this bit of wisdom the hard way, but I am sure that you won’t. Maintain the standard my friends; catch you later.

The Standard #25

responsibilityThe responsible gentleman understands the principles of accountability. Ownership. Culpability. Obligation. Any attempt to avoid or avert responsibility is not entertained. If his conduct is unbecoming or offensive, he does not contort his face with surprised expressions of coy denial. No, he exhibits the correct amount of sincere compunction, and he actively searches for a viable resolution to atone for his actions. He is not seeking total absolution, as he understands the act of forgiveness is a process – a sometimes complicated process. His only objective is to acknowledge his guilt, offer an earnest apology, and establish a suitable resolution. That is the standard he abides by, as that is the only standard he knows. Ensure that you know it too.

Standard Recommendations – Deodorant – Apologies to Tom Ford & GQ

Dove-Mens-Care-deodorantYou can file the following under dubious advice of the month. Tom Ford is not a believer of deodorant. As a matter of fact, he favors the natural aroma of perspiration. He thinks it is sexy. No – seriously. I read it in the November 2013 edition of Gentlemen’s Quarterly. Apologies, I meant GQ. Anyway, as I flipped through a pictorial featuring wardrobe upgrades from Mr. Ford himself, I found myself amused by a set of grooming commandments that accompanied the article. Checking in at #10 – resisting the temptation of utilizing deodorant. Now truthfully, I don’t know if someone is supposed to take this bit of wisdom seriously, but I did not see anything that alluded to humor in parentheses.

Therefore, allow me to present my own nugget of grooming wisdom: Gentlemen, please employ the services of some form of an antiperspirant. Yes, sweat may look sexy on a glossy fold-out of a scantily clad Beyonce, but we all know better. Trust, unless you discover yourself within the throes of passion and your sweat is a natural byproduct from all that bed-rocking, it would be wise to apply a few strokes of Right Guard under those pits. This is especially true if said pits are abundant with bushy hair; those follicles will lovingly marinate in all that funk and musk. What is the point of a clean, stylish presentation if squiggly rays of funk are radiating off your person like a smelly character from a comic strip? But I digress, it is really simple gentlemen, sweat and funk does not work in your favor. Groom accordingly, use some deodorant. Sorry GQ, but it had to be said.

The Standard #7

denzel_washington_01Strongly influenced by meager beginnings, his character has been wisely steeled with sincere humility – resistant to the caustic nature of arrogance and hubris. He understands that his current elevated status does not preclude reflection and deep thought. Thoughts that include a former reality burdened with struggle and tribulation. It is this remembrance that grants an appreciation for what he has and not lamentation for what he does not have. His wisdom dictates a comprehension that recognizes happiness is not predicated on monetary reward. And happiness is not sustained by perpetual monetary fulfillment. Because when allowed, wealth possesses a peculiar proclivity for nurturing a vanity that slowly erodes a gentleman’s character. Therefore, his heart is absent conceit and pretension. Family. Friends. Community. Serving his God. Those are the things that make him whole. Those are the things that give him joy. Those are the things that keep him humble.

The Standard #28

CloudsThankful. That is how I feel today – really thankful. Thankful for my health. Thankful for my family. Thankful for my job. I am even thankful for my 2000 Nissan Altima; which is finally starting to show its age. Those miles are steadily starting to weather my primary mode of transportation. First it was my knock sensor. Then a screw worked its way free from the hinges on my driver’s door, thus preventing it from opening all the way. Then came the entire replacement of my brake system. And now, when I attempt to pump gasoline, the nozzle clicks continuously as if my tank is full (it is not), and oddly there is a little gas spillage underneath the bottom.

So Monday, I sat at my desk in disbelief, it appeared that more repairs were on the way. And for a little bit, I was bummed. But then I heard news of the shooting at the Washington, D.C. Navy Yard. Suddenly, I was snapped back to reality. Seriously, I didn’t have anything to be bummed about. So what, I have an old car that is going to be subject to wear and tear. It’s supposed to happen; it’s an old car. The Washington, D.C. Navy Yard – that’s not supposed to happen. Sandy Hook Elementary School – that’s not supposed to happen. The mass indiscriminate shootings that currently plague cities such as Chicago, Flint, and Detroit – that’s not supposed to happen. And so I sit here today…thankful. Because, a blessed gentleman understands that even if his own reality seems glum, there exists a truly somber, horrid reality that he has not experienced. And for that, he is thankful for the miniscule, insignificant worries that he has of his own.

The Standard #25

responsibilityThe responsible gentleman understands the principles of accountability. Ownership. Culpability. Obligation. Any attempt to avoid or avert responsibility is not entertained. If his conduct is unbecoming or offensive, he does not contort his face with surprised expressions of coy denial. No, he exhibits the correct amount of sincere compunction, and he actively searches for a viable resolution to atone for his actions. He is not seeking total absolution, as he understands the act of forgiveness is a process – a sometimes complicated process. His only objective is to acknowledge his guilt, offer an earnest apology, and establish a suitable resolution. That is the standard he abides by, as that is the only standard he knows. Ensure that you know it too.

The Standard #13

African American Youth Men are not born with what one would identify as a “gentleman” gene in their DNA. Sure, some men naturally gravitate towards chivalrous, courteous behavior – but more often than not, such behavior is learned and embedded during various stages of male maturation. Conversely, some adolescents mature without said chivalrous attributes ever being instilled in their life. And that is an unfortunate reality; a reality that is shared by far too many young men growing up today. That must change. Now, as a child I would accompany my grandmother to the market for an afternoon of grocery shopping. My grandmother did not know how to drive, so we would walk to the market and I would help her carry grocery bags home. My brothers and I would actually request to tag along for such shopping excursions.

And now as an adult, I find myself helping elderly women in the market with their groceries, or helping them load bags into their car. Old habits die hard. Unbeknownst to me, the seeds of a future gentleman were being planted when I was but a youth. Furthermore, that benevolent mindset extends to other aspects in my life as well. Whether freeing a woman’s car from a snowbank or carrying a pregnant woman’s work bags to her car, I am driven by gentlemanly instinct. That is an instinct that must be imparted in young men today. It can be taught as an uncle, a mentor, a friend, or simply as a father. Chivalry. Valor. Courtesy. Politeness. Helpfulness. These are commodities that appear to be in scarce supply nowadays. If you are an owner of any or all, your wisdom is in high demand. Go ahead, there is a young man that needs you today.

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