Good Men Possess These 12 Important Traits
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Photo: My wife and I on our 1st wedding anniversary.
What is it that makes for a “good man”? Despite what our image-focused society tells us, it has nothing to do with his level of income, how he dresses, the car he drives, the friends he surrounds himself with, or who he’s in a relationship with.
For many, though, the allure of an appealing personal image becomes the focus. The effort put into making life look good far exceeds that put into making it feel good.
Good men live with integrity. Honor. Dignity. Respect. They strive to cultivate and embody a variety of traits and qualities that empower them to live life at a higher level.
Below, we’ll discuss some of the universal traits that good men work every day to embody. Not for anyone else — but because it’s part of who they are.
When I write these lists, the order of the points is mostly random. There’s no special meaning nor suggestion of “value” depending on where something is listed — this, however, is highly important.
My coaching clients are some of the world’s highest achievers, and do you know what they don’t rely on for their success and progress? Motivation.
The truth is that motivation is bullshit. It comes and goes. Wanes and waxes. Heats up and cools down. It’s unreliable, inconsistent, and fleeting.
And what’s worse is, when it’s not present, you feel a sense of disappointment, or shame, or frustration. “Why can’t I just bring myself to get moving?!”
Discipline beats motivation 100% of the time. Discipline shows up even when motivation doesn’t feel like it. Discipline is the foundation of consistency, which builds trust in yourself, and progress towards your goals.
It doesn’t matter if they’re personal goals, fitness goals, professional goals…goals are best reached through taking consistent and intentional action even when you don’t feel like it.
Being disciplined is what gets you to the gym, it’s what makes those sales calls, it’s what orders the grilled chicken instead of the pizza.
Being disciplined shows you what you’re capable of, which helps you to develop a deeper sense of confidence and self-worth.
I know, man. You’re a go-getter. You want everything, and you want it yesterday!
I understand, I really do. I also think there are plenty of times in life when patience will do you a disservice. If you want something, go get it, and don’t waste time.
On a larger scale, though, developing patience is going to make your life a whole hell of a lot easier.
Despite how quickly you want to achieve your goals, you’ll need patience to wait for the results to happen.
You’ll need patience as your employees or colleagues learn the ropes and figure things out.
You’ll need patience as you get to know your partner in a relationship — and as they get to know you.
You’ll need patience when that same partner aggravates you in 7 years…or when you aggravate them.
You’ll definitely need patience with your kids.
I’m not just talking about waiting. Anyone can sit there and wait. Most, though, will be stewing internally or getting frustrated, annoyed, and short-tempered in the process.
Patience appears when you’re able to manage those physiological responses and truly understand that this thing, whatever the thing is, takes time.
It may even be better because it takes time. Developing an intimate relationship, for example.
Rushing it will quite literally bring you the opposite result that you desire.
In fact, losing your patience and rushing mostly anything before it’s ready will more than likely cause it to fall apart. Haste makes waste, as they old saying goes.
Take a deep breath. Remind yourself that it’s worth the wait. Stay focused on the bigger picture. All will come to you in due time.
Being a good man is multi-faceted. I mentioned in the introduction that it has nothing to do with external factors like financial success, appearance, or relationship status.
Compassion, though…compassion is a big piece of the puzzle.
If this is a new word for you, Compassion.com defines the feeling as “To empathize with someone who is suffering and to feel compelled to reduce the suffering.”
Compassion requires and thrives from emotional connection.
It calls us to step outside of ourselves and see others for who they are and what they’re going through. What’s more, it calls us to take action to aide, support, or serve them on a deeper level.
Through serving others at this capacity, we, also, develop a deeper sense of emotional connection and growth. We connect with others and with ourselves. We minimize judgment as we learn people’s stories, hardships, and challenges.
I believe that the more compassion we show up with, the richer and fuller our lives can be, because we’ll build stronger, healthier, and more solid relationships with those around us.
I mentioned integrity in the introduction, but what is it, really?
We’ve all heard the C.S. Lewis quote: “Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.”
I think this really puts a pin in the concept of integrity. It’s a moral code, a promise to one’s self and others, a set of values that we pledge to live by at all times.
Good men live by a code. They’re clear on what they’ll do…and also, what they won’t do.
Every decision they make in their personal and professional lives is decided by this code. If it’s aligned with the code, they’ll do it — if it’s not…they won’t.
Of course, this is difficult. Challenges arise, temptations arise, opportunities arise…
Someone at work makes you an offer to help close a deal that would net a large commission, but you’re not morally comfortable with the actions that need to be taken…
A temptation that would, in theory, be dismissed by integrity. An action outside of your moral code must not be taken if you want to be a man who stays true to his values and code.
“But James, what if nobody else would know?”
Having integrity isn’t about following a code because other people will know whether or not you did…it’s about whether or not you will know, even if nobody else is looking.
5: Personal accountability.
To put it simply: Good men own up to their mistakes.
It’s not easy, it’s not pleasant, and it’s not fun — but that’s what makes it such a powerful character trait.
When you’re able to admit wrongdoings (and work to fix them), it builds trust with others, but also with yourself.
It shows the people around you that they can trust and count on you. It shows them you’re willing to look at reality and truth. It shows them that you won’t turn around and place the blame on them, or become defensive, or refuse to admit when you’re wrong.
That’s all because it shows a strong level of…
We cannot be honest with ourselves about the areas we want or need to improve in, if we’re not willing to look at them through an honest lens.
What’s more, we cannot even develop who we want to be as a person if we’re not willing to admit who we are today.
Self-awareness empowers us to see the truth in ourselves and our actions.
Other, less obvious added benefits?
Self-awareness makes you a better lover.
An even better partner.
An even better friend.
An even better leader.
An even better CEO.
It opens you up to better ways of receiving feedback without becoming defensive, because the ultimate goal is not to “look good,” but instead, to learn how you can improve.
It helps you understand what you’re great at, and what you’re…eh, not so great at. This way, you can find better partners and delegate tasks more effectively rather than just plowing through things that you won’t admit you suck at.
It helps to find better romantic partners as well, because you’re honest and genuine about who you are, what you need, what you’re looking for, and what you’ll accept into your life.
None of this is possible if you ignore your inner-most emotions, desires, and truths.
Here’s the thing about being a good man — it’s not selective.
It’s not conditional.
It’s not a way that you show up for some, but not for others.
It’s about you, it’s rooted in your identity. It’s driven by your personality.
That means that no matter who you encounter, what their background is, where they’re from, who they love, or what they believe in (as long as it’s not harmful or dangerous), then you being a “good man” still shines through.
This, of course, requires being open-minded. Non-judgmental. Tolerant…no…accepting. Tolerance is just putting up with people, whereas acceptance is truly embracing them.
You cannot truly be a good man if you pick and choose who you’re good to.
Loyalty is the mental, emotional, and moral commitment to a person (in this case). Sure, you can be loyal to a job, or a brand, or a cause — but at the end of the day all we really have are other people.
A company is nothing but a collection of people. A cause is put forth to serve a group of people. A brand is created by people.
Loyalty to the people we truly care about is what forges our relationships. It is, quite literally, the bond that we speak of.
It’s what brings us back to people — hell, it’s what makes sure we never leave in the first place.
Loyalty creates consistency and trust in our relationships while showing others that they can trust us, as well.
It’s what keeps couples faithful and together forever.
It’s a non-negotiable trait in a good man — for without it, he may turn his back on those he cares about when a “better opportunity” comes along, and there is no integrity in that.
9: Supportive encouragement.
I could’ve made “supportive” and “encouraging” two separate points here, but hey, efficiency is key.
Supportive encouragement — being a cheerleader for the people in your life. Wanting to see them succeed. Standing behind them during their hard times, and helping to push them forward during the triumphant times.
You’re there when they lose, and you’re there when they win.
A good man is there for the people he cares about without fault, waiver, or judgment. He is their calm in the chaos, their pillar, their lighthouse in the storm.
10: Emotional intelligence.
According to Harvard Business School, “Emotional intelligence is defined as the ability to understand and manage your own emotions, as well as recognize and influence the emotions of those around you.”
The good news is, it’s a skill. There is mountains of information regarding “EQ” that has been released in recent years that can help you to cultivate and strengthen yours. EQ isn’t the newest or most cutting-edge topic anymore, but it remains highly important and relevant, as it is deeply rooted in the human experience and how we connect with each other.
EQ, in some cases being seen as more important than IQ, is a worthy focus of a good man’s effort. He works to hone it, understand it, and embody it.
Alright, hear me out…
Perhaps loosely appropriate here in an article about traits, but I believe that being decisive is actually a highly valuable trait.
The decisions you make quite literally shape your life.
You decide how you show up every morning. You decide how you treat people. You decide how you treat yourself. You decide where you work. You decide who you accept into your life…
You get the idea.
That being understood, it’s easy to see how not being decisive can lead to a slew of challenges and problems through the years.
Perhaps you’ll take the safe route, or the easy way, because it’s just more convenient than having to make a hard decision.
Maybe you’ll avoid taking risks or chances, causing you to miss out on connections, opportunities, or love.
If you’re not decisive, you’ll become…well…mush that the world around you is free to mold however it sees fit. You’ll go with the flow, you’ll blend into the crowd, you’ll be the “nice guy” people pleaser who does everything to make other people happy and sacrifices himself in the process.
That is not what a good man does. A good man does what is right, lives by principles and while he serves those around him — he never sacrifices his own integrity or dignity in the process.
He is empowered to do this, because he has a…
12: Strong sense of identity.
Identity is what drives us. It is shaped by the story that we tell ourselves about ourselves. The qualities we embody, the standards we set, the boundaries that we maintain…
A strong sense of identity is the most important thing any human can develop.
It guides us along the journey of life. Every decision we make and interaction we have is driven by who we are.
It’s not about “what” we do or “how” we do it — but who we work to become.
That will serve as the foundation for the whens, whats, wheres, and whys.
Without security in who we are as an individual, the world’s terrain becomes far more rocky and uncertain. Any small divergence in the path can throw us completely off course, because, well, there wasn’t really a set course to begin with. We were just stumbling along, seeing what we came across.
When you don’t know where you’re going…anywhere will do.
When you don’t know who you are…anyone will do. Dating anyone, listening to anyone, working for anyone, being anyone.
We are like a ship at sea without a compass.
A strong sense of identity is the umbrella that everything else in this article falls under.
Who are you? What are the traits and qualities that you embody? What standards do you demand from yourself and from the people around you?
When this is clear, we have the opportunity to create a life that fully aligns with it.
We live each day in accordance with who we are, and what that person would (or wouldn’t) do.
Your identity is your guide. It’s your foundation. It’s your flashlight in the dark.
It’s who you are at your core, and when you work to become clear on that, everything else will follow after it.
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Finding success in creating hundreds of viral articles and videos on building limitless confidence and healthier relationships, James has accumulated over 39 million visitors to his website and a collective social media following of over 400,000.
James speaks at live events and in the media across the U.S. and has become a go-to expert with outlets such as CNN, Bravo, The New York Post, The Huffington Post, The Daily Beast, CNBC, The Boston Globe, CBS, and more.
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