A Defined Gentleman: 3 Basic Concepts to Being a Good Man

A gentleman is to be measured in his speech, generosity in giving, sober in eating, honesty in living, kindness in forgiving, and courageousness in fighting. -Fray Antonio de Guevara-

I am a firm believer that if you can’t explain something in a simple manner, you don’t understand it properly. It was only logical that if I promote the ideals about modern chivalry, I better have a simple definition on what a Gentleman is. This definition eluded me for many years and it became a source of constant frustration at a personal level.

Since childhood, I was taught what being a Gentleman was supposed to mean. I believed all men could be separated into three different categories:
  1. The man who was still a child and has yet to grow-up into his responsibilities
  2. The Macho who used force and a false sense of masculinity to hide his insecurities while abusing others
  3. The Real Man who took on his obligations with pride.

You can find volumes of information on what a Gentleman is or on how he must act, most of them tempered to the culture and religious beliefs of the author or moment in history when they were written. Most of the articles are descriptions of specific acts or straight out rules to follow. Even if each description was different in the specifics, we can constantly find similarities within all of them, which begs the questions:
What makes a true Gentleman? Is it his character and his values?Is it his manners or his etiquette? Is it his lineage, the cut of his suit, or the size of his bank account?
Ironically all of these things have been used to define a Gentleman at one point or another. Personally, I feel that these kinds of definitions capture the description of a Gentleman within a specific reference, but fail to capture his soul. Character is somewhat individualistic and subjective, since every person has their own core beliefs and values. Even the bigot and the fanatic firmly believe they are doing good based on their own ideology.

Manners are a reflection of proper attitude to life, while etiquette is a set of rules and information that can be taught to anyone, irrelevant of being a good person or not. As for being born to a “good family” and being well off as a determining factor to becoming a gentleman? Most of the gentlemen I have met in my lifetime come from rather humble beginnings and all have more important pursuits in life than money. I have also met my share of well-off “suits” that deserve many colorful adjectives to describe them, yet “gentleman” is not one of them.

So the question was still there:
How do you define being a Gentleman in a simple manner, one not dependent on social stature, culture of origin, religious beliefs, or even a historical frame? 
What was the link between the Junzi, the Samurai, the Cavalier, the Knight, the Faris, the Fianna, and so many others? What did all these men, the Good Men, have in common? What separates a Gentleman from the average man? The answer to this profound question is surprisingly simple. A Gentleman is defined by the actions he takes, a clear understanding of accountability, and the attitude he has towards life.

Let’s start with the first concept, Actions. From Plato to Picasso and from Confucius to Cervantes; actions, not words, have been described as the currency for a fruitful life. Yet we insist on having lives with over complicated explanations, broken promises, and hollow apologies. Any man can be versed with a silver tongue, but a Gentleman knows that actions will always carry more weight than any words spoken. He will not go around saying what a good person he is, or how much he helps others, or how much he works for a cause. He simply does these things. These actions will end up speaking for themselves.
Keep in mind that everything you do or don’t do is an action. Every time you act, every time you stand firm, every time you fight against something; you give a clear message of who you are and what you are willing to do for your beliefs. Every time you let an injustice happen, every time you prefer to stay silent within the crowd, or simply every time you complain about your life but do nothing to change it says volumes about who you really are. The best way to understand the character of a man is by looking at his actions and, often, ignoring his words.
If a man wants to be a Good Man, a Gentleman, he must commit good actions. He realizes his responsibility for his actions and his accountability for the results of these actions. This leads us to the second concept, Accountability. Whatever you do or don’t do affects you and everyone around you in one way or another. You are responsible for the effects your actions have, and no amount of excuses and apologies can change that fact of life.
As soon as you realize how your actions affect others, how you are accountable for the joys and pains you might inflict, the way you view how you act changes. You will think of others, and not just yourself, every time you do something. You will become more considerate and more responsible in your decisions. And when you do make mistakes, you actually are willing to accept them. Only after accepting your errors can you learn from them, something surprisingly rare in this world of denial.
Also, based on that same mentality of accountability, you realize that YOU are responsible for YOURSELF. You stop expecting others to solve your problems or view others as responsible for your success or happiness. You also recognize just how responsible you are for your own misery and how easily you can cause misery to those around you. You stop blaming everyone and take accountability for your own life, realizing that the only person in command of your life is YOU. Your attitude changes, from a reactionary one, to an active one.
And so we are presented with the last concept, Attitude. Nothing in this world can stand in the way of the man with a proper attitude for achieving his goal. Unfortunately, nothing can help the man with the wrong attitude. You cannot control what happens around you, but you can control how you react to these events, so a Gentleman strives to be in complete command of his attitude. That way you will master the changes in your life, instead of letting these changes master you.
This attitude, this trademark self-confidence of a Gentleman, is rather contagious. That is why people are willing to follow a humble man who constantly strives to be better every day. It teaches by example instead of by orders. This concept is hardest to achieve of all the gentlemanly aspects because confidence can easily turn into arrogance and humility can easily turn into insecurity. Being a gentleman is not a permanent title but rather something you strive for every day, with every action, and every reaction.

(Republish of article originally posted on Good Men Project)


#FF, The Order of Gentleman is more real than what you think.

 When I began writing my original draft for Caballero Chronicles, my main reference to being a proper Gentleman was my own upbringing and my own personal experiences, both in succeeding and failing into becoming a better man. I surrounded myself with like-minded individuals, a group we would jokingly refer to as the Caballero Club.

As Caballero Chronicles evolved into Being Caballero, and my exposure grew, I found like-minded individuals from all over. Suddenly I realized that there IS an unspoken brotherhood, an unofficial Order of Gentlemen. So I want to thank all those with whom I share the mission of expanding the ideals of a Gentlemen. 

To the following I raise my glass:

Core Values and the modern gentleman (Guest Blog from Be a Better Man)

(Today, we have the honor of having Wayne Tingle from the Be a Better Man Blogcast as a Guest Blogger. He comes to us with a rather important message, the importance of developing a set of Core Values. So I leave you all in the competent hands of @beingbettermen.)

Why do you need core values? If you already have a general idea of what’s right and wrong, how will core values serve you in the everyday?

Core values are the difference between telling the truth and being a person of integrity. It’s the difference between socking away a little bit in savings and having an active investment portfolio.
Core values bring energy to your spirit. They define the kind of person you are. They give your character strength.

So we agree core values are important. How do we define our core values? It’s easier, and probably harder, than you think. 

  • Step one. Find a quiet place.

    You can’t do deep mental thought in the middle of kids and family time. You can’t do it watching the game or working on your car. It’s going to take an area free from distraction, where you can focus on the task at hand. This is (possibly) a life altering activity. Give it the attention it deserves.

  • Step two. Get a notebook and pencil / pen.

    This is going to involve some writing. Find a notebook that won’t get trashed later. Don’t do this on a scrap piece of napkin left over from takeout at Applebees. 

  • Step three. Make a list.

    Make a list of all the things that are important to you. If you can’t think of anything important to you, think about someone you admire. Maybe your grandfather or John Wayne. List out the things you admire about them. Maybe they were good with money or didn’t overlook the little guy. Maybe they were chivalrous with women and never got pushed around. Don’t be shy, just write it. 

  • Step four. Condense.

    So you have some stuff written that looks like, “My Uncle John was a really nice guy. He always greeted people with a smile and asked them how they were doing.”  Now it’s time to pull a core value out of that thought, for instance:
    Respect others. 

    But it sounds like Uncle John did more than just “respect others”. Maybe the core value looks like this: 
    Respect others unconditionally. 

    Congratulations! You developed your first core value! Now continue on until you’ve condensed down all your thoughts. Keep your list of core values to 6-9 points. 

  • Step five. Use it.

    Once you have a list of core values you'll find they effect everything you do. They begin to define the everyday decisions you make. Let’s take the “respect others unconditionally” example. When you go to the bank you're going to greet the teller with a smile and a “Good morning.” rather than a grunt while you stare at your shoes. When you park in the parking lot you’ll be between the lines so as not to make it difficult for someone else. When you find yourself wanting to scream profanity at your waitress, you'll remember it’s in direct contradiction to your core value. 

And before you know it, you'll be being a better man.


Casanova's condemnation of the Pick-Up Artist.

A while back I wrote an article for GMP about how men had to change their attitude when dealing with women. I mention how men have to stop treating women like a challenge to be won with scams and lies. And I left it at that. I understood I had stated my mind on the subject and moved on to other aspects of what being a Gentleman.

Till a fellow blogger, @MarieFranklin00, brought to my attention the PUA (Pick-Up Artist) Community and BootCamp training centers.  At first I thought it was a joke, sort of the “Colbert Report” of Romancing. Maybe it was a comedy skit for some late night show or a joke ad brought to us by a Deodorant company. But the more I looked into it, the more I realized just how real this thing is. 

"Over the past ten years, we have systematically developed the most effective methods in the world for attracting and dating beautiful women. As our thousands of students worldwide have learned for themselves, our system is real, and it gets results."

These workshops teach men how to be more confident and assertive when dealing with women, how to read a person’s body language, and understanding the importance of how you project yourself to others. These are all very valuable skills every man should develop. Unfortunately, the way these lessons are taught is by degrading and devaluing women. Saying that these workshops teach men to be more confident and outgoing when dealing with women is like describing the Spanish Inquisition as a “marketing strategy used by the Church to get more members”. They both might work, but not for the right reason. The main concept drilled into the mind of these guys is that women deserved to be “screwed over”.  Ladies are viewed as manipulative gold diggers, so coning them is not only ok, but actually some sort of masculine righteous vengeance. They consider themselves the equivalent of amodern day Casanova.

Guys (cannot call them Gentlemen, or even men), read your history before you hurt yourselves.

Giacomo Casanova, like Oscar Wilde and Lord Byron, loved women, maybe a little too much. All three might have been womanizers and hedonists, but they actually respected women. What made them attractive to women was how they men actually paid attention to the desires of the ladies, liberating them from the chains of a repressive, uptight, misogynist social structure. 

Casanova’s relationships with the ladies went beyond just sex. He would create a fantasy where these women could escape their dreary life. He offered women what every woman who respects herself must demand: all that he had, all that he was, and a world larger and greater than what is regularly given to these women. Casanova himself wrote that the best way to romance a woman is to offer her DIGNITY. He openly disdained alcohol and violence as a means of seduction since mutual consent was crucial. For him attentiveness and small favors opened the path to a woman's heart, but it was a man’s skill with words that would conquer her. "Without speech, the pleasure of love is diminished by at least two-thirds". Interestingly enough, Casanova was a rather plain man in appearance.

He always avoided the easy conquests or the overly complicated situations. He would never go after a novice or inexperienced women, since he considered this as taking advantage of them. Casanova valued a woman’s intelligence over her physical appearance. "After all, a beautiful woman without a mind of her own leaves her lover with no resource after he had physically enjoyed her charms." I am not saying that he promoted women being educated, something that was not permitted in his times.

What I am trying to say here, guys, if you are going to romance women, do it the right way and for the right reason. What PUA’s are teaching you is to dehumanize women just to make yourself feel better about hurting them. We have seen this kind of dehumanizing as a tool to mistreat or to even attack marginalized groups. That’s what the racist does, that’s what the religious fanatic does, and that’s what you are doing. Some countries have actually listed these PUA manuals and blogs as nothing more than Rape Guides and Hate Speech. And you’re paying money to be trained to become the ultimate asshole by these guys?