I can assure you this article will disappoint if pushups, cigars, guns and business suits are the kind of things that come to mind when thinking of being a man. I enjoy a fine cigars, a well tailored suit, a day at the shooting range and a nice workout like the next guy. The truth is that these are all nice supplements to a real man, but they do not MAKE a real man. One of the easiest things to do is put on the disguise of a rough gritty man by day and James bond like debonaire gentleman by night. The difficult task is actually becoming a real man.
What makes a real man, and who am I to know what that is? The best way to lead is by example. I’ve been fortunate enough to have many real men teach me through example. I’ve been smart enough to observe, take note and make attempts to copy what I see. Any sense I might have about what it means to be a real man is simply a reflection of what I have witnessed in real men. There are two main characteristics I find to be the core of every real man.
Lesson #1: Love
One of the manliest acts I’ve ever seen is an act of pure love. To show your love for another, to not hide it or be ashamed of it, to be cautious but generous with it, this is the ultimate act of a real man. My father is a great example of this. Here is a man who never waivers in his attempts to show how much he loves his family though his actions. He does not do this to show off or look good in front of others. His acts are numerous and they span a life time. He has simply never allowed himself not to love his family. This unwaivering dedication set the standard for me. My father works in the medical profession, he has taught me what it means to love others not just those you know. I can see that no matter how stressful or long the day, he is comforted by the fact that he was able to make a difference in peoples lives. Love is a slefless act. My father worked double the hours most men would call a normal work week and he did this as long as I can remember,up to present time. My family always had more than we needed. We never worried where our next meal would come from or if we could go on vacation. Dad always took care of things. My father could have sent me to public school, but he insisted on a private education. I attended top private schools including Jesuit High School in Carmichael California.
At the age of 50 my father suffered a heart attack. His sacrafice was a real one, it nearly cost him his life. He played the hand he was delt and never complained. A real man loves without limits, he loves with purpose and intention. My father taught me that a real man knows real love.
A real man can be counted on to do what is right when no one is looking. One of my platoon Sergeants, Sergent First Class Bradford, taught me that a man must have integrety. SFC Bradford was a strickt and fair man, he preached only the values he practiced. No matter what the scenario he never waivered in his standards. I remeber one afternoon in Kuwait while we were preparing to run a convoy security mission into Iraq I peeked out the back side of our tent and saw SFC Bradford walking between our tent and the one next to us. There was no one around, things were completly silent. Suddenly he stopped dead in his tracks, turned to his left and reached down by his boot. I couldn’t see what he was reaching for until he brought it up and placed it in his pocket. SFC Bradford had picked up a small wrapper that was half burried in the white Kuwaiti sand. Some would argue that this was not a monumental moment in world history and while I would agree I can say without a doubt this small action made a monumental impression on me. SFC Bradford had always taught us to take pride in ourselves and the places around us, to go out of the way to make things better when you left than they were when you arrived. Seeing him pick up that tiny peice of trash in the middle of a God forsaken dessert while assuming no one was watching helped me realize that he didn’t just talk about these moral and ethical standards, he practiced them. Without fail weather he was being watched or not he practiced what he preached. SFC Bradford would go on to prove time and time again that INTEGRETY, no matter what the circumstance, is a real mans obligation.
Over the course of my life I have been blessed with many “Real Men” as mentors. There is often confusion in the world as to what a real man is or does. A real man is above all else a man of passion and principal, a man who makes a real effort to give two fold what he receives. Love and integrity are his foundation in life.
A real man does not give speaches, he inspires them.