The Pillars of Gentlemenproject
Anyone who has ever dreamed of achieving something extraordinary knows there are two key steps; devising a plan and execution. Anyone who has ever achieved something great will tell you that the execution is more important than the planning. One of my mentors once told me, “I would rather have a perfectly executed plan, written out on a bar napkin, than a bulleted three-part plan, which was poorly executed.”
This concept proves true for anything in life. Jim Collins is a New York Times best-selling author, who has penned many top-selling leadership books. In his book, Built to Last, he discusses how to create a company which will stand the test of time. One of my takeaways from this book is the idea that you; referring to the leader, must transition from a time teller to a clock maker. The only way to ensure you’re built to last, leaving a legacy, and you’re going to develop others is to provide a blueprint of what made you successful. That is exactly what I will discuss; what are the 5 pillars, which are fundamentally vital to becoming a gentleman?
The act of being selfless is the core value of a gentleman. This idea goes much deeper than self-sacrificing for the best interest of your loved ones; it needs to be involuntary and un-expecting. The gentleman is going to open doors for his lady, walk on the sidewalk closer to the road, or offer to pick up a relative from the airport. These kind acts need to be completed because you want to. You cannot be expecting anything in return. Once you start expecting something in return, the once selfless act now reflects as a method of gains. Let me be clear, this is not what a gentleman does. That brings forth another question, how do you avoid the perception that selfless behavior is not perceived as a method of gain? This is concept that we will discuss at a later time.
Anyone who has been 30,000 feet above ground level knows that, in the case of an emergency, the first thing you do is put on your own oxygen mask. We are instructed to do this because we cannot fully help others, unless we are fully functioning, and have our own oxygen flow. This principle easily translates into our world of being a gentleman. We must ensure that we are not only presenting our best self, but we have prepared, and act as our best self. For example, a gentleman will pick up the check at the end of dinner. How will you do this if you do not have your finances in order? There are options, credit card debt and unwise financial decisions, to name a few. But, a true gentleman is preparing for the future, and will not be in this position because he has brought his best self to the table. This financial example is just the tip of the iceberg. A gentleman needs to be there emotionally, spiritually, and financially. How are you preparing to be your best self?
There’s a difference between listening, and really listening. You’ve had that moment when you’re pouring your heart out, and the person on the other end of the conversation is absent-minded, and, obviously, not physically, or emotionally present. This is not a gentleman. We must ensure that we are physically and emotionally present; this presence will be felt and heard through active listening. A gentleman who is an active listener will display it through body language, repeating key parts of a conversation, utilizing the phrase, “So what I’m hearing is…” head-nods, and many other physical or verbal cues. A very important rule in active listening is that you are not on your connected device. There is an epidemic going on across the world a constant decrease in attention span, active listening, and emotional presence, due to smart phone addictions. This is not a trend a true gentleman chooses to participate. Rather, we show respect to the individuals whom we interact with by choosing to emotionally be present through active listening.
There’s one constant, across continents, cultures, and races; we all get 86,400 seconds to every day. It is up to us to choose how we invest our currency of time.
Our days are filled with constant communication, business meetings, meet-ups with peers, dates with our significant others, constant consumption of data/information, and, the infamous, time-wasters. Another pillar of Gentlemenproject is the idea of Best Self. A very important piece of becoming your best self is setting aside time for reflection and self-improvement. We have all been caught in the circle of only downloading and consuming information. This information can come from mentors, classes, articles, books, podcasts, bosses, peers, friends, spouses, or any other influences. The only way that one can make this information using is by taking the time to reflect on the information, compose a plan of action, and take the first critical step in implementation. A gentleman will know how to properly manage his time, and plan time for this much-needed activity of reflection, leading to self-improvement, and reinforcing a constant best self.
Honesty is the best policy. This is a mantra/phrase which every parent teaches their children. I would make a sizable bet that during one conversation, or another, you’ve been on the giving or receiving end of this phrase. The idea of honesty is an essential pillar in Gentlemenproject. There is one commonality in all successful relationships-be that a business relationship, friendship, romantic relationship, or team. The common thread is trust. The genesis of trust is honesty. There cannot be trust without honesty. Honesty supports all of the other pillars of Gentleman project.
These are the pillars of The Gentlemanprjoect: selflessness, best-self, active listening, reflection/self-improvment, and honesty. These characteristics are the DNA, which all gentleman shares. They are the jumping off points for extraordinary relationships, life-experiences, and an overall fulfilling life. Being a gentleman is more than knowing how to dress to the 9’s, open doors, and drink old-fashions. Although those are all fun identities of a gentleman, the real fun starts when you accept, implement, and mold your inner-gentleman identity to these 5 behaviors.