I have been writing now for two years for The Good Men Project. I was flying this week, and I was thinking about an important question—-what does it mean to be a good man? Can you just decide to be a good man, is it hereditary, or something else?
First, I think you can be a good man if you decide to be one. Second, it doesn’t matter who you are or who your family is, you can be a good man if you so choose to be.
Then the question is what are the essential qualities of being a good man? Based on my life on the planet for the last fifty-eight years, and interacting with thousands of people each year as a professional speaker, here’s what I believe are the qualities of a good man you can work on developing and growing.
#1 — A good man is loyal to his people.
When you have family and friends, you need to be loyal to your tribe and have their back. They need to know that you will have their back. My amazing best friend Dave has been my friend for over thirty years. He once drove five hours to my house and worked on a huge house project with me for sixteen hours a day for two days. We only stopped for meals. He would do anything for me, and I would do anything for him. That is what a good man does, and my best friend Dave is a good man. I think John Ruskin said it best, “The strength and power of a country depends absolutely on the quantity of good men and women in it.”
#2 — A good man is someone who is a man of his word.
When I got married, I took vows, and I take them very seriously. I thought long and hard about them before I made them. When you make a vow or a promise, it should mean something. It’s called integrity. I have no respect for men who cheat on their wives. Why did you take a lifetime vow if you weren’t going to stick with it? Don’t make a promise if you can’t keep it. When a good man makes a promise, his word is a bond, no matter what happens.
#3 — A good man protects his loved ones.
If you have a wife, you have a moral obligation to protect her, and take care of her, by being a provider of food, safety, and shelter. Yes, I know you are a team, and you both contribute to the family good. But I am saying a good man doesn’t sit idle and let someone support him. It also means you protect her honor over all others. If someone says something disrespectful, you let them know that is not going to happen on your watch. You have her back. She will love you so much for protecting her. You should do the same for your kids.
#4 — A good man treats everyone with respect.
A good man is secure and confident, but not arrogant. That means he treats everyone with respect until they give him a reason not to. He knows that giving respect and agreement are not the same, and the key is to treat people with kindness, humility, and grace. To a good man, there is no such thing as “little people.” Everyone matters and is important. I once spoke to a cleaning woman at a hotel, and she was very shocked because no one ever speaks to her. That is shameful.
#5 — A good man takes responsibility for himself and his actions.
When something goes wrong, he takes ownership and doesn’t try to blame others. If he makes a mistake, he says he is sorry and finds out how to fix it. When Steve Harvey announced the wrong winner at The Miss Universe pageant, he took ownership saying afterward, “I’d like to apologize wholeheartedly to Miss Colombia and Miss Philippines for my huge mistake. I feel terrible. Secondly, I’d like to apologize to the viewers at that I disappointed as well. Again it was an honest mistake.” No blaming anyone else, no excuses, he just made a mistake.
#6 — A good man is willing to express his emotions.
When a good man loves someone (male or female), he tells them. He knows they need to hear it. When he is moved to tears, he doesn’t mind showing it at all. At a movie, if he cries, he doesn’t hide it or deny it.
#7 — A good man doesn’t believe in or hold on to stereotypes.
To a good man, there is and has never been anything known as “women’s work” or “men’s work” at work or home. They don’t mean anything, and they are silly. If he is good at something like dishes he does them. If his wife is better at mechanical things, he knows it, and she does it. It is not about gender but about who has the skills. I am proudly known as dish man in my house, and I love doing the dishes. A good man is comfortable knowing what he is and isn’t good at in life. He is comfortable talking about activities he does that other people might think of as being more “feminine,” but he doesn’t care what other people think because he is secure. As Sheryl Sandberg said “We can each define ambition and progress for ourselves. The goal is to work toward a world where expectations are not set by the stereotypes that hold us back, but by our personal passion, talents and interests.”
Are you a good man?
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