As Father’s Day is near, I am offering a few thoughts on adult males.
Good men are not hard to find, they are everywhere. Good men hide in plain sight. Most men have good qualities, but that does not automatically bestow sainthood on them. Good men are not perfect, but they embrace their imperfections as humility and with that the desire to work on themselves. Being humble is not a character weakness, it is a strength.
What makes a good man? There are some qualities that most would agree: honest, hard-working, loving, ethical, nurturing, self-confident, unselfish and purposeful. Those are the ones that quickly come to mind, but there are many others.
Is it nature or nurture that makes the man? I believe it is more the latter. Where do men develop those fine characteristics I mentioned above? From those who influence them: family, educators, friends and social circle, co-workers, social media, gaming, films, music, etc. Conversely, it is those same influencers who also fortify men who lack character.
Good men are grown, but sometimes you can see at an early age, those great qualities emerging. I think most mothers hope their sons grow up to be good men. Growth does not happen in a vacuum. Parents play a huge role in the teaching of values, being a role model, rewarding good behavior, learning from mistakes or transgressions, and giving that young person the opportunity to grow, think and reach their potential. Ultimately, each man must accept responsibility for their own character and behavior. Live it, own it.
A good man also recognizes their faults and shortcomings. We all possess some degree of emotional intelligence (EI). You do not have to know what it is, in order to possess it. Good men have high concentrations of EI because they utilize it in their relationships.
According to Daniel Golman, who popularized the term emotional intelligence, these skills and awareness are the foundation for an individual’s success in business, interpersonal relationships, and social interactions. Golman identifies five parts to emotional intelligence:
Self-awareness – Knowing ourselves and accepting responsibility for our actions.
Self-regulation – Managing our emotions and how they impact behavior.
Motivation – Willingness to learn and adapt.
Empathy – Understanding others without using your own “self” filter.
Social skills – How we interact with others and successfully resolving disagreements.
One might argue that instead of those five characteristics, what is important is self-confidence and self-focus. Be confident and just focus on who you are, instead of this new age mumbo jumbo. In the real world, maybe we just need alpha males, not men who have to check the emotional boxes before making a decision. I would guess that some alpha males have high emotional intelligence, not all, but those who have developed these characteristics.
Emotional intelligence provides 360-degree vision, and the ability to receive feedback and see yourself as others do. Of the five listed, in my mind, the most vital skill is self-awareness. Knowing your strengths and weaknesses, but also being able to see and understand how you interact with others; those strengths and weaknesses in action. Strength and confidence are important to identifying and improving weaker areas. Confidence and emotional intelligence, are highly compatible.
Do good fathers have these five characteristics? It might depend on the father, but these characteristics are important to any kind of relationship. The role of father is an opportunity to help nurture and support another human being. Whether a full-time or part-time role, related by blood or not, being a father is one of the most important responsibilities in life. Children are mirrors who project what we show them.
A good man is not a finish line, it is a marathon. We may never reach whatever image we hold in your minds, but we can always strive to be a better man. Why? Because the people in our lives deserve it.