The Standard #53

Despite modern, progressive viewpoints regarding the construct of masculinity here in America; society at large is sometimes guilty of perpetuating and reinforcing stereotypes that it seemingly discourages. It is an interesting bit of hypocrisy. I found it particularly amusing when popular men’s magazines – looking at you GQ – had the temerity to lecture men about the perceived current disrepair of manhood while completely ignoring their culpability and literary sins regarding the topic. It wasn’t long ago that men’s fashion didn’t fawn over the wildly popular show Mad Men and its resident alpha male Don Draper. Mad Men – toxic masculinity personified but stylishly portrayed with critical acclaim. From the appearance of the latest GQ offerings, I surmise that it isn’t trendy anymore. Oh, how soon they forget. Now, I won’t pretend there aren’t bad actors out there that don’t represent the best of the male population. They are great in number. Yet those men have become the archetype for all things toxic, negative, and dysfunctional about men as a whole. Lost in the shuffle of a culture war (waged across social media, television, publications, etc.) revolving around gender roles and expectations; we are ignorant of a sect of regular gentlemen that is perhaps more indicative of manhood than what is portrayed in the mainstream – invisible to the general public.

Sandwiched between two conflicting arguments stands an average gentleman just trying to make the best of life. He hears the competing perspectives, but he cannot relate. It is foreign to him. What are they? Well, he cannot cry because he would be considered weak. And he cannot become frustrated because his exasperation may lead to anger, which may lead to a violent conclusion which men are intimately tied. He cannot be fearful or anxious because that may reflect indecision, and a man should be resolute and certain. Male fragility is not an option. And so we are presented with a how-to guide regarding an evolved masculinity for the modern man. Everyone has an opinion on the matter. Nevertheless, to be quite frank, a gentleman does not need to be more feminine to fulfill his potential as a man. And a gentleman does not have to blanket himself in a facade of machismo to be fully considered a man. It’s all opinion. It’s an attempt to fix what people deemed to be broken. The truth is, the only thing a gentleman requires is the freedom to be human – free of preconditioned judgment and inequitable expectations.

To be sure, emotions are not black & white, no, they are perplexing shades of complicated gray. The current pandemic will definitely tap into every one of those shades. A gentleman must understand that his emotions cannot be dictated by other people. Because the same individual that espouses platitudes about self-esteem and mental health across social media will be the same individual that casts belittling judgment. A gentleman must understand that his emotions are his own and they are valid. Your standing as a man is not predicated on the opinionated whims of the fickle public. Yes, this Fear. Anxiety. Frustration. And yes, a gentleman may be moved to tears. A gentleman should never attempt to meet expectations set forth by an individual that cannot satisfy those same expectations themselves. Reject labels forced upon you that betray your well-being. It can become mentally and emotionally draining. Allow yourself a healthy, confident embrace of your inner emotions; remain true and honest to your identity to achieve a better you.

Standard #1

An 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 #31

It is wise for a gentleman to avoid an ascension that leaves 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 to 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 consistent – 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.

Licensed to Ill…Behavior – A Simple Request For a Return to Decency, Manners, & Common Sense

The 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. Now, the first few sentences of this post may sound familiar because I penned those words back in 2013 as I was creating my ongoing Standard posts. It amazes me as those words are still true today. Image does matter. Image is sometimes dictated by personal behavior and choices. Now, I wholeheartedly admit that although I identify mostly as a liberal, I still maintain moderate views. That being said, I believe that as a collective, we must champion a standard of self-respect, dignity, and class. This is not sanctimony. This is not respectability politics; it is just plain respectability for oneself. Now, it has been approximately 25 years since I graduated high school, and in just a little over two decades, the cultural shift in principles and decency has been dramatic.

Perhaps it feels dramatic because I am older and this generation’s views regarding manners differ from my own. And perhaps being a father now has aged my way of thinking. However, shouldn’t certain standards be timeless? Can we all agree – using some honest common sense – that all behavior is not created equal? Some conduct is simply ill-mannered and disagreeable. Carrying oneself as a gentleman or as a lady should transcend generations. Yet, some individuals in our more famous population are absolved of any unseemly conduct that a normal person would be roundly criticized. Nevertheless, it feels as if more credence has been afforded some celebrities that don’t represent the best behavior that society has to offer. I fully understand that a celebrity represents a brand not necessarily intended to be a role model. Nonetheless, especially in this day and age, brands are built off a devout following.

Perched upon a pedestal that is supported by unwavering, unbiased devotion; celebrity should not inoculate an individual against a critique of ill behavior. To be sure, power and purpose are pillars of a prominent person’s platform. So there has to be some level of responsibility. Because, when your favorite personality (actor, politician, singer, etc.) is promoting crude behavior, please understand said behavior does not translate seamlessly to every aspect of life. Work. School. Home. There are a lot of impressionable people that emulate what they mistakenly deem as acceptable. Sadly, I feel that my fellow people of color are so angry and determined for representation, they accept the unacceptable and don’t object to the objectionable. So my responsibility as a parent, mentor, and leader is separating fantasy from reality for those that may have challenges discerning between the two. Call me a square, but I would not condone my daughter describing herself as a bad b*tch and showing all her business. Nor would I condone my son sagging his pants and describing himself as a thug n*gga. And this would include any other behavior that would otherwise be considered unbecoming, untoward, unethical, and unnecessary. We have to do better. We have to do better together.

The Standard #48

With absolute certainty, the mantle of leadership demands fidelity to integrity, responsibility, wisdom, and truth. Leadership is an exhausting exercise in guiding others, often thankless, yet undoubtedly needed. It requires a steadfast commitment to exemplifying a righteous standard, a model for all to glean its best virtues. However, do not be mistaken, a person charged with the supervision of others may not necessarily retain the aforementioned leadership prerequisites. Trust, regardless of an individual’s station in life, or designation of a title, everyone is not suited to be a leader. Someone that disseminates disinformation and displays a craven hunger for chaos cannot be considered a true leader. A leader’s actions are dictated not by what is popular, rather, a gentleman’s actions are guided by what is just, reasonable, and logical. In the midst of tumult and tribulation, a leader exudes calm and steadiness. Typified by cohesive communication and unambiguous direction, the servant leader is driven not by emotion. Ideally, he embraces a pragmatic approach based on informed, selfless decision-making in the service of others. He recognizes personal faults; and exhibits a willingness to improve, learn, and mature. His mind is open to differing ideology and thought; always ready to compromise on points that are sensible and rational, as serving others is never lost in his actions.

The Standard #42

A gentleman understands that position and power should not be prostituted for profit and pleasure. Rather, an honorable gentleman understands his platform is erected upon pillars of purpose and principle. Embracing a mission of justice and service, he understands that power and prosperity can be perverted if treated as a self-serving priority. Therefore, his conduct is grounded in truth, integrity, and righteous action. A gentleman that declares himself a leader will work at the behest and best interests of the people. Superlative servitude within a community is at its best within the sphere of sacrifice. Power should be wielded for the community and never against it.

The Standard #52

If I have gleaned any knowledge working within the confines of the corporate world, it would definitely be understanding the necessity of having a strong network in my selected area of employment. Undoubtedly naive, my entry into the corporate environment commenced with an incorrect belief; a trust that hard work alone would translate to acknowledgment and then advancement. I was seriously mistaken. The knowledge and work performance a gentleman wields within the workplace are just as important as the individuals a gentleman knows within the workplace. To be certain, deftly weaving a tight tapestry of professional connections can help progress a gentleman’s career and provide outlets to a myriad of opportunities that may nurture both professional and personal growth. I am quiet by nature, but being locked down in my cubicle studiously working under the radar was not doing me any favors. To provide my career with a much-needed injection of significant development, I needed a great deal more than labor alone.

Now, I can credit 4 colleagues – all in management – that encouraged me to stretch beyond my comfort zone and seriously consider advancing my career within the company. The first step was discovering my voice, volunteering for projects, and increasing my visibility within supply chain management. As I stated before, I am a natural introvert, so communicating my thoughts aloud to other individuals was challenging. Nevertheless, the more I spoke in open forums and collaborated with other people, I began to feel more at ease with being more vocal. If you want to advance your career in a meaningful fashion, I strongly encourage the exercise of extending yourself beyond your comfort level. A gentleman should identify individuals that will readily exchange valuable skills & insight, embrace stretch assignments, and actively collaborate with persons he wouldn’t necessarily engage with normally. Think of it as a human portfolio that boasts an intellectual diversification suited for professional and personal growth. Success is not procured within a vacuum, it is nurtured within an environment of varied thought, experience, and learned guidance.

Someone you know needs to read this, so share if you care. Empower and encourage someone today.

The Standard #37

Rest assured, the successful gentleman is never content with static movement in regard to his professional career. He continuously seeks opportunities for advanced growth that will cultivate and promote an ever-expanding, internal knowledge base. Moreover, rest assured, the successful gentleman is never an active participant in his own professional or personal limitations. Being average – at best – is never a standard that is tacitly sought or readily accepted. Eagerly accepting a personal challenge for greatness, he sets the standard by which all others will be measured against, as he is devoutly dedicated to adding value to his life. And empowered with a clearly defined purpose, he ensures that his education never succumbs to restriction and halts. Constantly learning, constantly evolving; this gentleman understands the sacrifice that is required. It may mean accepting projects foreign to his current job description. It may mean late evenings filled with laborious research and reading. It may mean forgoing some sleep or outings with friends. Nonetheless, your trade must be perfected and your personal best must be cultivated. Plying your craft, increasing one’s knowledge in a given profession is paramount. With each drifting day arrives another prime opportunity to learn anew. So, what have you learned today?

Someone you know needs to read this, so share if you care. Empower and encourage someone today.

The Standard #51

To be sure, the thoughtful gentleman understands that every moment of significance carries meaning. Moments matter. This is especially true for the gentleman that has embarked upon the journey of fatherhood. Understandably, the journey is an arduous one, replete with important occasions that beg the focused attention and participation of a father. This is non-negotiable. Hopefully, this active role fosters an intimate relationship between father and child grounded in an appreciation and love exclusive to both involved parties. For example, approximately three years ago, my daughter was experiencing respiratory distress that prompted an expeditious visit to the emergency room. My wife needed to be home with our newborn son since, ironically, a hospital isn’t the best spot for a newborn outside of the initial birth. So I stayed with my daughter through a series of evaluations and treatments until she was discharged.

During the entirety of the event, I provided a calming and reassuring presence for her, as you can expect the circumstances would be quite frightening to a two-year-old. Now, some may think it odd, but I took pictures and videos during our stay in the hospital. I wanted to capture this moment in time; this moment that further strengthened our bond as father and daughter.  To her, I was her protector – a source of depended comfort and safety. To me, she was my ward – simply my little baby girl. I had to be there for her. And every now and again – three years later – I still look at pictures and videos from those days we shared together. And upon viewing them, the emotions from that day come flooding back – in a positive way. Despite the circumstances, I cherish that time we shared together.

Now, I don’t assert that a father and child need to experience an extreme event to form a healthy, caring connection. However, I am asserting that a father should never shy away from moments with his kid(s), no matter how large or small. And he should embrace opportunity fully and make the most of it. Sure, a gentleman probably won’t engage in every waking event, but an honest effort is definitely demanded. There possibly can be a myriad of chances at a gentleman’s disposal: attending a recital, helping with homework, attending children’s school events, etc. Do not be mistaken, inaction is actually a conscious action. Gentlemen, as fathers, ensure the present-day with your kids isn’t a missed opportunity that becomes a distant past that you regret in the future. Make the most of your moments now!

The Standard #30

A 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 a 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 respect from your peers.

The Standard #51

 

To be absolutely certain, a steadfast belief in one’s abilities is an attribute the contemporary gentleman must possess, especially if he desires success in any aspect of life. Without belief, a gentleman’s talent, and the motivation to utilize it accordingly will gradually dissipate. Faith and conviction is the fountain upon which a gentleman’s confidence is based. Without it, a gentleman can never embrace risk, perform a task to the best of one’s ability, or take advantage of an opportunity. Nevertheless, carrying oneself with said confidence, absent a self-awareness of personal shortcomings or weaknesses, can erroneously lead down a path toward pride and conceit. An overestimation of oneself is a gross miscalculation that renders the gentleman oblivious to personal areas that beg identification and maturation.

Moreover, arrogance is blind to valuable, dissenting opinion and obscures contrasting perspectives. It is a dangerous preoccupation of one’s own importance and skill while devaluing other viewpoints. This unwillingness to recognize limitations, and possibly overcompensate due to personal insecurities, deprive the gentleman of meaningful introspection that shapes character and capability. Trust, a gentleman’s hubris is directly proportional to the disconnect that can exist between belief and reality. As a gentleman’s hubris swells, so does that disconnect as he becomes untethered to facts and truth. It is a delicate dance between vanity and self-assurance that must be regulated by humility, modesty, an openness to learn and willingness to admit wrongs. To be sure, a thoughtful gentleman understands that ultimately unchecked arrogance undermines credibility, hinders growth & development, and breaks trust. A thoughtful gentleman understands that cannot be his legacy.

The Standard #50

 

The wise gentleman recognizes that success is never a perpetual certainty, as the unpleasant experience of failure is an inevitable reality. Trust, disappointment is but one of many catalysts for personal growth and development. No one is immune to letdowns and adversity. To be certain, born of failure and disappointment, one’s professional character is forged with steeled resolve and resilience. Acceptance of one’s shortcoming, and then courageously demonstrating the required perseverance to secure success; this is the first crucial step in one’s professional maturation. Trust, it is a challenging and painful process – without a shadow of doubt. The emotional and mental investment is substantial. Anger. Fear. Doubt. Mistrust.

These emotions can be turned outward, inward, or both simultaneously. If success is the desired outcome for the gentleman, harnessing said emotions to positively drive toward his goals is paramount. These feelings, albeit perfectly natural, can be debilitating if left unchecked. Accomplishing one’s professional objectives is never an easy journey, but it is a journey nonetheless – replete with unexpected and sometimes crushing setbacks. A gentleman should never make that journey more difficult than it has to be or give up on it entirely. Instead, embrace it, stand back and objectively view your circumstances with unbiased eyes. What were some takeaways from the situation? What can you do differently going forward? What did you learn about yourself? The answers to these questions will set up a proper approach to effectively and rationally handle disappointment while positioning yourself to capture personal victory.

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