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Saying No … to say, Yes.

Beauty comes in many forms. Look at this exquisite beauty at an art show I went to. This Bonsai Tree is produced with constant pruning and shaping. A little like shaping a young male in to not just a Man but a Gentleman. It takes time, a lot of patience and high skill levels. I sit back and go “wow!”

My son is growing up in to a fine young man. He has a Tom Hanks character inside that young Arnold Schwarzennegger tough exterior already and he is only 8. He’s tough but tender when appropriate. Understanding yet stands his ground and confronts when required.

He’s my young Warrior Viking Pirate Prince.

He made me aware recently of a habit of mine. Good or bad, you decide. He said –

Dad, why is it, that you always say no when I first ask you for something… and then a little later change your mind and say yes?

Initially I responded – “Kaka!”.

This is a term I created to be all-encompassing.  A term that gives me an ‘out’, my little exit strategy if I ever get caught in a corner with my childrens’ endless questioning. To be used when I was just too tired to give them an answer or when I didn’t know the answer (which was very regularly) and I didn’t want them to know I didn’t.

Instead of saying ‘just google it”, I came up with my ‘made-up Fijian’ word which I said meant – it is just the way it is! I am not obligated to give an answer and this is where the conversation ends. Full stop!

They hate that word. I use it sparingly.

Then, I got thinking. I asked myself that same question, that great question he had asked me. Why Paul? I’ve always told my children from when they were able to speak, to not be afraid to ask questions and to question everything, even beliefs, behaviours, my actions and the way I do things, history and so forth. However, I’ve always reminded that the most important thing to do is to ask the right question.

This particular question from Zachary, was a right question.

Initially, I didn’t have an answer. I was stuck, in that corner no one likes to be. He got me. Gee … zus, and he was only 7 years old. What other questions is he going to be asking me as we progress through life I thought? Scary stuff! Luckily, I coined that ‘get out of jail’ term pass – kaka. Phew!

After reflection, I called him back and said –

“well, son, if I said yes first off and then said no later, you would be quite unhappy, wouldn’t you? You would probably think I’m cruel. But, if I say no first because when I do and then change my mind … to say yes, you won’t be disappointed and would most probably think that I am a nice dad. A nice man, that I am.”

I told Zachary my son, that this habit of mine was to ensure that I allowed myself time to reflect and think about my decision. This would make sure that, whatever decision it was, that I always came across as a Real Man … a Gentleman that I wanted to be, always. A role model that he, my son, would copy his behaviour off. A template for him to build on.

Working out in my gym during a photo shoot. Shaping a young male in to a man, a Gentle Man is very much like building good quality lean muscle within the walls of balance & symmetry. Requires patience, a lot of skill and dedication to truth, with tonnes of love.

Preparing him for the changing post-feminite landscape

First impressions matter.

That is what we have heard all our lives. Even more so now. I want my son to understand that, I think he does already. Fairly or unfairly, people are going to judge you to be a gentleman or not within the first minute or two of meeting you. Having a template, a blueprint of good manners is important.

We all have a blueprint.

My blueprint … a template evolved (and continuously evolving) that is a cross between relevant ‘old school’ traditions that I still retain from my English Gentleman Grandfather and skills honed by me in these modern times. Skills that he, my father & grandfather would not know and didn’t have to because they lived in a different era, with values and practises that were relevant to that time.

Just like the way I train in the gym, a fusion of ‘old school training methods, combined with a modern twist”. I want my son to learn the old fashioned chivalry combined with a modern respect for women. I want to make sure that he puts the ‘gentle back into the man’ and keep it that way for his future. A future that will be embracing change at a pace that I or previous generations of dads would have never faced.

I need to prepare my son (and daughter) as best I can to believe in himself first, an important step to becoming a gentleman and that knowing that the real meaning of the saying “it’s ok to be a man’ is that men are capable of many dimensions. In other words, to be proud of who he is.

Putting the gentle back into man means nurturing the classic male qualities of kindness and thoughtfulness, patience, compassion and trustworthiness. A man that embrace intimacy qualities simply because he chooses to. A True Gentleman with manners does not have to have feminine qualities. No.

A true gentleman understands that manners matter. He is aware of social etiquette. I want many things for my son, and one of the important ones is that I hope make him conscious of this – in the way he looks, sounds and acts around others.

We all need a bit of guidance and reminder of what and why we are a man. It takes effort and the desire to be made aware. Manners in a Man, Matters. The great thing is that manners can be improved through increased awareness and practice.

Why is this important?

Because the landscape for men has been changing and has been changing very fast in the last decade or two. Men are very confused and unsure in many things, prime example is on how they are expected to be a man – a Real Man.

I want my son to grow up understanding good knowledge of manners and etiquette because it just makes for a better world and also because it paves the path to manhood. Being a man requires a certain amount of experience and knowledge.

I want Zachary to know that it is one thing being a male but it is a totally other thing to be a man, a gentleman. Granted, today the social landscape is not what it used to be when I was growing up as gender roles have blurred and continue to change dramatically. Many things have changed.

I want my son to embrace this change but be prepared for it. I want him to be a successful gentleman in this new landscape. A landscape that requires him to know how to act, how to dress, how to talk and how to date.

A man needs to allow himself to be coachable to help him, help himself navigate the challenges he faces in the Sea of Life.

 Being the BEST Dad and Father you can be

He is learning this from me, every single day. That is the pressure and responsibility that us men (with young children) and the men in society at large have. Helping create the New Men and beginning with teaching them the new etiquette. I have to admit, it is a little daunting as I tell them that I am their Flawed Hero, their Less-than Perfect Dad.

You see, from where I sit, saying no … before I say yes is only one piece of the puzzle of what it means for my son to grow into a modern day Real Man with relevant old traditional values with a modern twist, needed for survival in today’s world. A world currently filled with many confused post-feminite, re-constructed, new-age so-called men! Not Real Men, far from Real Gentlemen.

I remind him of what my father used to say to me ‘action speaks louder than words!’’ Yes, indeed. I want Zachary to understand that it’s one thing to say we need to change how we act, but it’s another thing to do it! A very necessary ingredient to successful body re-engineering journeys that I have helped people, help themselves achieve over the last 20+ years.

To get quality results in anything, one has to not only have  a clear goal but develop a quality plan and most importantly, ensure a quality implementation of the quality plan. A ‘scatter-gun’ approach will not give you the desired results.

Etiquette, after all, is more than knowledge, it’s a product of well-rooted self-confidence. That is probably one of the greatest gifts any dad or father can impart to their sons – that of self-confidence. They don’t learn this at school or the sporting fields, they learn this at home.

Children, like seeds need a lot of guidance and nurturing as well as the freedom to grow. However, with more freedom comes more responsibility. Teaching them life etiquette helps them manage their sailing better.

With regards to being a gentleman, I know that how we feel about ourselves is often how we present ourselves to others. You see and hear about it every single day. If you honestly believe you can excel at a job or in a game of football then the confidence will show when you talk to your boss or take a penalty.

People and society notice and reward good etiquette, demonstrated through appropriate self-confidence. Good manners matter!

So, there are many things I hope and wish my son will be and skills he would have practised through good behavioural habits. When channelled in to the right mediums, habits can be life-changing.

For a better life.

My ultimate wish for him is to have a fulfilling life of significance. I’m sure it is the same thing our dads had for us and I’m sure all you Dads and Real Men reading this feel the same as well. We’re all ultimately helping to mold the future Leaders of our world when we’re old, frail and silver. And not fall in to the trap of ‘do as I say, not as I do” philosophy that some of the previous generations of men have passed down. This is one that need to be put aside.

The skill all us Dads need to develop is the skill of continuously questioning beliefs passed down to us and filtering out bulls*it and values that are not relevant and life-affirming for this era. And the most important skill of discerning between what is helpful and what isn’t, based on relevance.

That takes time … and hard work/YAKA!

Let’s hope they are great examples of Real Men, men who have simply practised putting the gentle back in to man and have learned to say no … pause .. … then say yes.

Thank you Zachary, for asking that right question.

 

Ahoy & cheers my friends …

The old Captain Viking Pirate … & his thoughts on being a Real Gentleman

I had a family gym that was predominantly male (70%) for about 7 years. I encouraged the men to speak freely and communicate all their feelings and we shared stories and helped one another through tough emotionally difficult phases of life. What a wonderful group of ‘post-feminite new age gentlemen. Men that understood that manners matter.

Give him the scaffolding in your son’s life to help him, help himself find his light. To allow him to build & live a life of significance. With a foundation of good etiquette/manners.

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awards, caring, compassion, intimacy, intimacy awards, man, real man

Intimacy Awards please.

Photo op with a local resident and her dog. Lovely.

Photo op with a local resident and her dog. Lovely.

In my life so far, I have observed that there is an award for all the great traits society appears to hold above all others. Traits most of us aspire to. In today’s world, people are amazingly connected to their teams – you name it. They identify strongly with their sporting teams, their club teams, their individual sport (that is a team sport) etc.

Men (and women) battle it out on many sporting arenas, education, politics and business to win the cup/trophy/prize money. Demonstrating all these tangible, hard – winning skills.

There is an award for almost every trait related to hard work, determination and success – an outward expression of strength, power and discipline and determination. A beautiful thing that is celebrated and written about (from the winner’s perspective) throughout history. Whether we’re talking about successful people or successful nations (in wars).

History is biased towards awarding the victors. That’s just how it has always been.

But the world has changed a lot.

Not only just with technology but with regards to everything else. It is a flat world after all. Definitions of what it means to be a ‘man’ or a ‘woman’ today is very different to what they were say, 50 years ago. Definitions of a family, sex, sexual preference and marriage is different today too.

Maybe, just maybe, we should start giving out awards for the more ‘softer’ skills of an individual. Things like – compassion, care, trust, intimacy and conflict resolution. Not just awards for being the strongest, fastest athlete or ‘talent’ in the business world which it has always been. Why do we think that these men are the best men to model yourself after? They may be great at ‘making money’ but may not have great skills at other important areas of life. It seems, the ‘halo effect’ is at play here for many ‘perceived leaders’ in the Corporate & Financial World of our society.

Not a very wise thing to do.

I think there should be awards for the men, who embrace change. Men who embrace the softer skills that is part of the modern-day definition of what it means to be a man. There should be awards for the courage taken for intimacy and compassion and show of affection. There should be an award for men who place family over career promotions. This is fear personified. A very tough choice.

Men are not just what society makes out the majority of the species to be – selfish, power-hungry, career-focused, sexually-obsessed being. No, a man has other parts to his being that often does not get a chance (as often as society allows) to ‘see the light of day’. A side that is ‘put under the carpet’ and rather neglected over many generations.

My children - Olivia and Zachary striking a 'front double-biceps' pose for the camera. Watch out, these Valentine Guns are loaded!

My children – Olivia and Zachary striking a ‘front double-biceps’ pose for the camera. Watch out, these Valentine Guns are loaded!

Whilst these parts of a full-man is walked on as a doormat, the more commonly emphasised parts such as – uncaring, careless, aggressive side is stressed. We hear, see, read about this every single day. On the sporting field, in the business world, it seems in every single crevice of this earth. No one is immune to this.

Maybe, just maybe, society should start recognising the courageous men out there who are:

  • Not afraid to demonstrate genuine affection to those he loves
  • Not afraid of genuine intimacy with others
  • Not afraid to accept equal responsibility in the raising of children (in every sense of the word – not just from a financial sense)
  • Courageous enough to perform all the tasks required of a ‘dad’ just as it is for what was a ‘once-upon-a-time’ womans’ domain
  • Courageous enough to be a role model for the young men (sons, nephews) of the changing perceptions of what it means to be a ‘man’
  • Brave enough to demonstrate his full display of affection and role model to his daughter/daughters
  • Not afraid to get in touch with his ‘feminine side’ – not just as a trend but as an obligation that goes along with what it means to be a man/father/dad.
  • Embrace the changing status of what a ‘real man’ is.

Society should start giving out awards of bravery not just to celebrate the historically implanted image of men who went to war, carrying a gun. Yes, these bravery awards are well deserved. But history is littered with wonderful examples of this and this image of bravery is forever etched in our psyche.

But, I believe there are also heroes that stay behind. Men that never get a chance to carry a gun. Men that never ever go off to war. Men that never ever get a chance to win that ‘bravery award’. No, but these men are still here. Men that are not afraid to get in touch with their ‘feminine side’ and this isn’t saying the ‘gay’ side (not that there’s anything wrong with that  … as Seinfeld would say). Just plain old simple men who have made different choices to their fathers and grandfathers and all the men that have come before them. Better choices. Choices that are relevant to the times we live in. These are Trailblazers. They are all around us. Could be talking of you. Maybe of some the male friends you know. I bet you have many.

They’re everywhere! But they’re afraid to come out.

I had a family gym that was predominantly male (70%) for about 7 years. I encouraged the men to speak freely and communicate all their feelings and we shared stories and helped one another through tough emotionally difficult phases of life. What a wonderful group of ‘post-feminite new age males’.

I believe a lot of these men still bottle up these genuine ‘softer – parts’ of themselves for fear. I believe it is mainly a deep-seated fear of ‘what other people would think of them’. It is not fear of being a failure of being a man, a father in today’s world, according to today’s definitions. No, it is a fear of criticism that goes along with your decision to fully accept all the responsibilities that go along with what it means to be a MAN.

Fear of what people would think of you if you gave up a promotion at work because you put your family first. This would be totally abnormal. “Are you insane!” … you would hear friends and family say. Because it goes against expectations. It goes against prevailing perceptions. It goes against the ‘status quo’. Something that will take time to change and fully accepted. Just like it has taken time for countries to pass laws to de-criminalize same-sex marriages.

A big part of this, I believe is acceptance of the ‘other side’, the feminine side to his character. There should be bravery awards given to men and dads who demonstrate great skills at the softer skills to his being. Softer skills that don’t necessarily make him soft. No, far from it. Soft skills that make him a complete, whole, real man. An authentic man.

This is the definition of bravery – doing something that you’re afraid to do but you do it anyway. Pessimists would call this stupidity.

A group of men of different ages chatting about challenges of life as we transition through the phases of life. Storytelling was a big part of my gym where all men of all ages took the opportunity to share their fears, their desires and mistakes and more . A wonderful informal male-bonding and vitality enhancing phase of my life.

These awards of public recognition for bravery in intimacy will encourage the current crop of men to embrace this neglected side and part of them (just like it has been for their fathers and grand-fathers and every male figure in their family line). But more importantly provide a re-wiring opportunity for the men of tomorrow (our sons) to embrace the changing definition of what it means to be a ‘real man’.

That the young men of today – my son, your son(s) may look upon traits such as tenderness and care, compassion and heart as acceptable and as important as work ethic, discipline and winning at all costs.

My hope is that recognising bravery awards for the men of today who make these choices would lift the lid on this stereotype and ‘free’ and liberate the ‘hidden, softer’ male that is in every man out there.

Not all heroes hold guns. Not all great men climb to great heights. Not all great men seek this definition of success. My grandfather, a very influential man in my life was a great example of this. To me, he was my hero. A true gentleman. I only fully realized the man he was when he died. I couldn’t believe the amount of people from all walks of life that paid respect for this man.

I only truly understood the man he was and what he meant for my life and view of life only after he died. I was very fortunate that I had him as a mentor in my early years of life. His definition of success was not skewed unhealthily towards material and financial gain at all costs. He had a much broader view of success. Success in all areas of life.

There is a hero in every man. Yes, there is a hero in you, too (and you don’t need to be awarded a Victoria Cross for this)!

With two good friends and gym family members. Two men who should win “intimacy awards’ for choosing to be the man that they dreamed to be.

In my books, all heroes believe in what is right. These heroes go to great length to stand by what they believe in. To STAND THEIR GROUND. Even if this means that they are in the minority at this present time. Even if they are going up against the status quo. Even if they are ‘rocking the boat’ about what it means to be a ‘real man’ in today’s world. Even if they are as proud to receive a ‘bravery award for intimacy/affection/compassion etc’, publicly.

And hope that one day, these awards for the ‘softer-side’ of a man is held in as high regard or close to that of a man who goes off and wields a gun in a war. Or to that of a man who climbs the corporate ladder to his imaginary snow-capped mountain top and feeling unsatisfied with life when he gets to the top and realises that there isn’t any snow at the top.

The war WITHIN is far greater and tougher battle than the war without. For ALL MEN. How you manage and choose to navigate this internal emotional mine-field as you pass through the different phases in life is very telling.

All the best to all the young dads/men out there trying to make sense of life and what it is to be a man and looking for answers to the question “Is this all there is to life?”

This question, my friend is one that only YOU can answer. There is one certainty: you will find YOUR ANSWER. How you go about finding that answer is the issue here. Aim to search for the answers in the right places. For those of you men that already get that public recognition of bravery, bravery award of intimacy on all levels. Think of yourselves as the lucky ones.

Congratulations. You deserve it! You are a trail-blazer, you are an example of courage in action. Come on, men, I know the “Real Man” lies dormant in some of you reading this … it is time to let him out so that you can be free of the chains that burden and hold you down, just for being a man. The chains of living a life based on expectations of others.

You have one life. Live it with total and utter intimacy and know that it is very ‘manly’ to do so. Reach out and for that Intimacy Award, I’m sure you’ll get it if more choose to do so.

There is hope, so, let’s all get together and request for Intimacy Awards please!

Choose well.

 

Until next time,

Life is about choices. Choose well.

Life is about choices.
Choose well.

~~Life COACH~~

~~Energy, VITALITY & Life COACHING Conversationalist~~

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