The consensus is clear – the gentleman is a rare and dying breed of man. But what does it a mean to be a gentleman? Probably a lot more than you may have thought. The main misconception about being a gentleman is that it consists a certain set of acts or behaviors that qualify you as being one. The most obvious example of this would probably be the expectation of a man to “open the car door for a woman.” But the truth is…anybody can open someone’s car door. Even a child. So obviously this isn’t a good qualifier for being a gentleman. This line of thinking would qualify anyone valet parking cars to be a gentleman, for example. People who know me well know that I am a huge fan of getting to the root of things. I don’t just go along with things because “that’s the way they are.” It’s the reason for the word why being my favorite word in the English language. It’s gets you to the root of things. And since everything has a reason, why not explore the reason that there is a distinction for this word? Let’s get down to the rules of being a gentleman, and why it’s incredibly important in our day and age.

There are tons of lists on how to be a gentleman, but I feel like most of them really miss the mark in important ways. It has more to do with culture and tradition than core values. In this article, we’re going to focus on why being a gentleman in these core ways is important, especially right now in our time, and what the most important, foundational rules are to helping you achieve that mind-frame. How you dress isn’t universal. Whether you open a door or not isn’t universal, and may even be considered offensive in some situations. But these values ARE universal.

The word Gentleman comes from the Old English term Gentry. The Gentry, in essence, were people of high social status and belonging to a high social class. It is the lowest in the rank of titles of nobility… aka royalty.

Nobility? Royalty?

As a society, we don’t think of the term gentleman in this way. But I want to explain why, in reality, we really probably should.

Let’s face it. People can be mean. They are often times impatient. They are slow to listen and quick to speak. They always have an opinion about something (even things they know nothing about.) Many people are just downright crass individuals. In my book, Self Mastery, I talk about why this is. So without further adieu, here are my Top Rules of Being a Gentleman.

Top Rules of being a gentleman

1. Live Up To It (Embody It)

As we discussed, gentleman is a title of nobility. It is a title of honor. To consider yourself such, you must live as such. That means being a man of honor. When you live as an honorable man, you will for the most part be seen as a man of honor as well. Your view of yourself must always be that you are an honorable man. If this seems hard to do, just remind yourself, that it isn’t always easy to be kind to others. It isn’t always easy to try your best when it comes to making decisions. It isn’t easy to be there for people who need you. But by doing these things, you can be confident that they are, in fact, by contrast to the majority, exceptional and honorable qualities. Take pride in this, and be proud that you are an honorable and hard-working man, not only in terms of external things (job, family,) but also inwardly as well. Remember that your own beliefs and values are huge cues as to what others should feel about you as well, so when you live as a dignified man, and you feel it with everything in you, then others will as well. It is contagious.

2. Don’t Believe Anyone
The title may be a little difficult to understand on face value. Let me explain.

What I mean is simple. A true gentleman isn’t gullible. He doesn’t believe what others want him to believe about anything. He is a man of high character, and as such, he uses his intuition and strong sense of discernment to make decision.

Instead of listening to others, he takes counsel. This has two parts.
1. HE IS SELECTIVE ABOUT WHOM HE TAKES COUNSEL FROM. He doesn’t just listen to anybody. In fact he isn’t just hanging around with “anybodies.” You are the sum total of the 5 people you hang around the most. If you spend your time hanging around people who have no dreams, no vision, no ambition, no drive, it will inevitably rub off on you. So he has good people around him from whom to take good counsel.

2. What counsel he does take is only ever a consideration. It is never something that he makes a decision on without thinking for himself. Use your senses, think reasonably. If someone walks up to you and says, “damn, those are ugly pants,” it should never under any circumstances make you think even for a blink of a moment that they are in fact ugly. Remember, art, like beauty, is entirely subjective. Do not falter or question your own values or beliefs, including something so subjective as beauty art or appreciation for something.

Note: Do this with class. Smile, and say, “Perhaps in your estimation, good sir… but in mine they do just fine. Have a great day!” By saying “Perhaps in your estimation, good sir” what you are doing is allotting this person their own opinion. You aren’t saying “You’re wrong!” You’re allowing them their views, while maintaining your own, which is a sign of strength. You are also bidding them to fare well, which is an act of kindness, despite their opposing view.

3. Set Firm Boundaries

This can be one of the most complicated, or at least difficult, things to do. Setting firm boundaries isn’t easy. What it means is that while always diplomatic in your dealings with people, and while always kind…you are no fool. It is analogous to how while you will always open your door to strangers who knock on it, you will not just let anyone walk in through your front door, and onto your couch to make themselves at home. Your life is your space. You must set firm boundaries on who belongs in it, and who doesn’t. You must set firm physical boundaries as well for your own space and your own comfort level. If someone is pushing you, harassing you, it is imperative that you learn to assert yourself, and demand respect from people who have no business abusing you. In short, it means knowing when to say “Yes” to things, and knowing when to say “No” to things, which can, in fact, be an incredibly tough thing to do in practice. But learn how to do it, and your life will change. Exercise your NO muscle.

4. Be Authentic

Let your yes be yes, and your no be no. There’s nothing wrong with saying no, as mentioned above, and there’s nothing wrong with saying yes to something either. But regardless of what you say, keep your word to the best of your ability. Be a man of integrity. It blows me away how many guys feel they can’t be authentic, because if they do, the woman or women in their lives “won’t like it”. For one, so what? If they don’t like the authentic you, what’s the point? You’d be surprised how many women will actually receive you well if you are just honest and authentic. I remember having a first date with a young lady once and explaining that when I’m in relationships, rather than be the type of man who will shy away from acknowledging an attractive woman for instance, I like to acknowledge my appreciation of her beauty. I may randomly comment that the waitress serving us has a lovely smile, for example. As long as the one you’re with feels loved and appreciated by you, she probably won’t mind your authenticity here. She may even appreciate your ability to make other people smile, knowing that she’s safe and comfortable with you. At our date she told me that she could definitely respect and appreciate that, versus me trying to be inauthentic – despite the fact that this was our first date ever! Women love honesty. You can get far more than you imagine by just being honest.

This also means, by the way, that you aren’t just kind to friends and rude to others you don’t know. You are courteous to all, because giving value to others through merely interacting with them is a part of your core values.

There’s much more to it than that obviously, these are some basic core values. Stay tuned for more Rules of Being a Gentleman, and more in the Gentleman’s League. Share your comments below!

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