STYLE VS SUBSTANCE

I’ve recently been reading some interesting blog posts lately that describe an increasing exasperation at some men’s lifestyle websites. These sites seem to create a labyrinth of steps that may inadvertently be sending a message that a jet set lifestyle, full of fabulous lounge parties, bespoke suits, beautiful women and high-priced drinks is one of the keys to becoming a well-rounded male. Or that somehow retreating to some natural bearded Grizzly Adams sensibility, complete with campfire stories, guttural howls, and gingham and plaid shirts will bring men back to their roots. Of course these two distinct groups are polar opposites of each other, and their relevance could be argued on both sides. And to be fair, there are a small group of websites and organizations that are really making a difference and sending a different message of self-awareness and real change.

But there is a third group that seeks to define itself, not in the luxury of thread counts, labels, passports, exotic destinations or dating prowess. Nor in the skill at building a fire, diagnosing problems with his car or finding north without a GPS unit. This is the regular guy, working hard, trying to make ends meet, pay his car note, student loans, and feed his family. He may not subscribe to the plethora of men’s magazines, or may not know where Ibiza is or could care less about his “relevance” on Facebook or Twitter. He may or may or may not be in a committed relationship. He may or may not be in that neat little post grad, twenty – thirty something demographic. In this unstable economy, these guys are rarely spoken of, lest they be pegged mediocre, common, or even labeled (gasp!) ordinary. I won’t go waxing poetic about the “everyman”, but my point here is this: There seems to be an over emphasis on “appearances”.  How a man’s life should look, how his “brand” should seem to his boss, his friends, his girl, etc. Marketing agencies and Twitter spammers abound with suggestions on how we can improve our personal “brand” and finally meet our full potential. With all this info coming at us in print and digitally at blazing speeds, it’s easy for these messages to confuse and get lost in translation.

“In order to be honest with myself, I have to reveal more of who I am. This is a part of the process.” – Brian Blade

Realistically speaking, there is a need for a paradigm shift on what our aspirations as gentleman should be; It’s not a mystery, it is not some elusive holy grail, and it’s really not complicated. We have to get past the need to define ourselves externally, via our social economic status, or any other superficial means. I know that I am not the first or the last to say this. We need to focus on VALUES & PURPOSE. Put away the suits for a moment, find your way back from the woods, put down the wrench and really ask yourself:  “What real QUALITIES can I as a man develop to become successful Leader of MYSELF?” We cannot possibly hope to become better men and lead anyone else if we don’t first understand ourselves. Let’s keep the confusion to a minimum.  If you strip it all down, men only need to develop 4 qualities to become better Husbands, Fathers, Brothers and better Men. In this order: Love, Justice, and Wisdom & Power. These qualities are the common sense foundation for moving from boy to man to mentor.

“Change that does not lead to liberation from fear, greed and delusion is not wholesome. Furthermore, any change that does not yield more compassion and loving-kindness for yourself and others is a waste of precious life energy.”  – Philip Moffitt

What is truly important to note, is not the result when each of us reach that “moment of maturity”, but HOW we got there. What were the TASKS and DECISIONS that shaped the length of time it took to get there, from boy to man to gentleman? This is The Gentlemen’s Movement. This is The Transformed Male. The goal is to dig deeper and focus on QUALITIES that transform the way you THINK & ACT, not the way you look. Let the other guys try to do that. What is important though are the reasons for making changes, or transforming oneself. Not to “appear” genteel, though there are enough men that have already mastered that skill perfectly. No, the goal here is to expose who we really are inside, see ourselves for who we are and then rebuild the foundation. In the coming weeks I will discuss each quality in-depth so that the focus will be to dress from the inside out. It’s time to move from the external to the internal. Let’s create positive male role models. Better Husbands, better Fathers, better Men. It’s time to ascend.

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