It’s no more than 3 paragraphs into any article about “How to be a Gentleman” that you encounter an outline detailing the importance of carrying yourself with confidence.
The topic may be covered often, but its relevance and truth continue to resonate even today.
A gentleman must be confident in his actions, his decisions, and his relationships. In all of his dealings, a gentleman is to speak with a sureness in his words, and act with steadiness in his behavior. He is to be firm in the belief of his convictions and passionate in his defense of them.
These, along with many others, are values long held by the countless confident, self-assured gentlemen who have gone before us.
As generations have passed and society has evolved, these values have remained tried and true. And I am not here today to contest them. Everything I wrote above I believe wholeheartedly, and are principles that I earnestly try to implement in my day to day life.
However, I do want to take some time to step back, and to reevaluate these values in the context of today’s world.
Though we don’t need to rethink the entire value system that has defined much of the past, I do think it’s important that we at least take a look at that system with a modern day lens. A lens that helps us adapt to the challenges, temptations, biases and misunderstandings that inevitably present themselves in an ever-changing world.
We live in a culture that is obsessed with the preservation of “self”. Whether we are lying to others to protect our reputation, stepping on someone else to receive what we believe we deserve, or drowning our insecurities in the shallow praises of social media, we are constantly and carefully constructing our worlds to display the very best version of who we are pretending to be.
Day after day we live out the definition of insanity as we proclaim our legitimacy and significance to the world as loudly as our profile pictures can yell, only to discover the familiar feeling of inadequacy and inferiority.
We are bombarded with messages that tell us we must be better, do more, and succeed quicker. These lies that are being spoken over our society have left a depleted, insecure, and over compensating generation in their wake.
They leave us with men who feel massively inadequate and who spend their time convincing everyone around them that they are everything the lies tell them they need to be.
They turn respectable gentlemen who lead with confident conviction into broken men who spend their time crafting platforms on which to stack their accomplishments, rather than forming meaningful relationships that allow them to invest in the people around them.
This deceives us into mistaking our call to be confident, with a right to be arrogant.
The reason I say these things is not to try and paint a picture of hopelessness or negativity. I say these things, dear reader, in an attempt to expose the temptations that drive our insatiable desire to protect our carefully constructed reality at all costs. We will hurt and betray anyone, even those that we love, to maintain our unfounded and unjustified sense of superiority.
The challenge I want to raise today is that how we, as modern day gentlemen, must learn to “mind the gap” between confidence that leads, and pride that hurts. It is a fine line, indeed. But one that we must not ignore or take lightly.
As I stated above, we have been taught all of our lives that it is the confident men that lead others, and that is certainly true. But the lesson that is more rarely taught, but is possibly of even greater importance, is the one that tells of the men who use their “confidence” to mask their true motivations of pride and boastfulness. This is the pit that all men are tempted to fall into at some point in their lives. Why would you prepare a man with tools to succeed without warning him of the dangers that line the path from here to there?
There aren’t very many voices out there choosing to spend time on the second point, but hopefully today you have heard it spoken clearly. Though we are to be men of great confidence, we are to also be constantly mindful of the temptations of pride and intentionally guard ourselves against them.
I plead with you, gentlemen…mind the gap.
Now go. Go and walk sure-footed and confident in the path set before you. Go and lead with conviction and purpose. But as you go… be uncommonly kind, unexpectedly humble, and genuinely desire to bless others with the leadership entrusted to you.