I sometimes joke about being born a century or more too late. The reason, primarily, I relate closer to the character and lifestyles of men of former generations more than I do with what I’m seeing in so many men today. I admire the standards I saw in my dad and grandfather’ s and the men they associated with. I watched the way they lived their lives and the definition of manhood so important to them to preserve and pass down. Below is an example of who those men were and what was important to them, and genuine men today.

The Protectors!

Our forefathers, in large, were men of great courage and knowing how to protect their families, belongings, and their way of life, came as naturally to them as breathing. They possessed knowledge and skills instilled in them by their fathers, who learned them from their fathers, who… (well, you get it!). It seems all too common among men today to know little to nothing of such skills and knowledge. Far too many rely far too much on their local, state, and federal governments to provide this protection for those they love. In some ways, we “seem” safer today than the days of old with the stories of Indian raids, bands of robbers, civil war, etc.. However, with televisions, radios, and the internet, it doesn’t take long to realize that is far from accurate. The only difference between then and now is the dangers to watch and prepare for! Today we have more threats to our families than ever before. Today’s threats have weapons and technological strategies far beyond what our forefathers had to learn about and prepare to protect their family and loved ones from. We need more men today that still see that need, will make the commitment, and seek every resource and opportunity to learn all they can to be ready and prepared should the need arise to protect those they love and their property with all they have learned, practiced, and have at their disposal.

The Providers!

Our forefathers also took pride in being the providers for their family and often worked long, hard days to make sure they adequately provided for their loved ones. Asking for help beyond their own means was rare and only when they had done their all. Mostly, asking was unnecessary among a band of brothers that knew you well and were around you often. Did they reach out for help? Of course, they did. However, there was one big difference that I see little of today. Men of yesterday had a code among them where help went both ways. If your neighbors and brothers came to your aid and helped you in a time of need, loaned you money or their tools, you were truly grateful and remembered it. Then, when you learned that neighbor or brother had a need, with little to no thought of how it would inconvenience you, you were there and gave them your all. With that code of honor in place, there was little need for local, state, and federal help funded by the hard-earned taxes regularly deducted from their wages and doled out to people they don’t even know. So many today seek ways to qualify for any government help possible and accept from others around them with little to no thought of returning that help when they learn of another’ s need. We need men again who have the pride and resolve to provide for their families, willing to perform any work needed, favorable or not, that they are physically and mentally capable of. We need men willing to get up, get dressed, and report to work when they don’t feel good, didn’t sleep well, and the plethora of other excuses men use today to stay home. In doing so, denying their employer resources they were counting on in exchange for the income required to provide for their family. And ever so missing today, we need men who are always looking for an opportunity to reach out and help another and his family. That is one of the greatest values of a real man and will bring blessings that so many men are lacking in their lives today!

Standing Firm in Your Beliefs and Values!

Our forefathers stood firm in their beliefs and values while respecting that others around them may be different. As long as one group did not force their beliefs and values on another, they lived in peace among each other as valued friends and co-workers. I don’t recall stories of them however forfeiting the core values this great country worked hard to establish and many men including their fathers died to protect, to accommodate another group with vastly different beliefs and values who migrate here and then do their best to push unfamiliar and different belief systems on us. The greatest and most sought-after reason people have migrated to this country for many generations is our openness and freedom to live among each other, respecting our differences with a focus on building community on our common traits and goals. My forefathers left an English monarchy in the 1500s migrating to this country to escape a terrible tyranny. My direct grandfathers were among the top of the British ruling class prior to that decision being Barons, six generations of knights with one serving in the king’s parliament with the authority to make court judgments on the king’s behalf when he was away from the throne. Another grandfather was the chief architect for the construction of the Buckingham house, now palace, and they buried yet another above ground with my grandmother at the entry of the church of the Austin Friars in London. However, for reasons I’m not knowledgeable of, they left all of that and came to the American continent in the 1500s. They have since fought and died to defend the freedoms they migrated here for. So… while yes, we welcome others and understand that they are not always like us; we have poured a lot of blood to make this country what it is and we WILL NOT allow others to come here and defile it by trying to push another monarchy or ruling class on us, especially if it directly opposes the Judaeo-Christian values we hold so dear, especially when their culture supports perversions and disrespect to our women and children. We will not force our Judaeo-Christian beliefs on anyone that decides to legally make this their home but we ask they respect our laws, our belief systems and not try to force us to give up our long-standing traditions and values to accommodate theirs above and superior to our own. To this, we need men again like our forefathers willing to stand firm and defend!

Love and Respect Ladies!

I believe the one area of being a real man that appears to be most lacking in today’s generation is the way a man treats the lady he’s closest to, usually his wife or girlfriend. One thing that quickly offends me is hearing another man refer to his wife or girlfriend as his “old lady”, “baby mama”, or any other such disrespectful term. Yet, less than respectful references to someone in your life that should be nothing short of your full respect is all too common today.

I’m very fortunate to be raised by a father and mother who tag-teamed their efforts, making sure I understood the importance of being a gentleman, not only to those I was closest to but to any and every female I came into contact with. Mom and dad taught me that age was not a factor, I wasn’t to treat the older generation of women specially, who may be more likely to recognize and appreciate, and treat the younger generation any different, who may not have a clue of the respect you’re paying them and sometimes even get offended. Treat them the same and enjoy the reward of the “thank you“ from those that recognize your effort and just know you did the right thing when there’s no recognition or even negative feedback.

“Ma’am” – To this day I instinctively say “yes ma’am“, “no ma’am“, and just “ma’am” as a short way of saying hi. If I’m wearing a hat, I attempt to briefly remove it or at least tip it, usually by my hand on the front brim or just a quick nod. The term “ma’am“ only appears to be popular in the south and northwestern states and more associated with the cowboy culture than any other in my observance. I have worked with women that have either moved from the north and northeastern states where this term doesn’t appear to be popular. I’ve also heard in return “please don’t call me ma’am, it makes me feel old“. Again, I’m flabbergasted. Why does such a respectful word have to be a thing of the past, not fitting for this day and age? My answer is usually a jokingly replying “ma’am (there I go again!), I’d much rather offend you unknowingly by saying that than to feel my dad’s boot in my butt for forgetting to”! That often gets a chuckle.

Open the door – Men, if you’re walking up to the door of a restaurant or storefront and there is a woman, no matter how young or old, color, class, etc. approaching the door or even slightly behind you… for God’s sake, man try to get ahead if needed and open that door! Hold the door open for as long as needed if others are behind her. Most will thank you, some will ignore you. Either way, also attempt to return a “you’re welcome“ when thanked and personally, I like to say the same to those that ignore me or fail to thank me, but sometimes that’ll get you a dirty look with them feeling corrected.

The car door – I really wish I saw more men today making an extra effort when they’re approaching their vehicle with their wife or girlfriend to walk to the passenger side and open the door for them, make sure they’re in completely, and then gently shut the door behind them. Then walk around and get in the vehicle yourself. I can’t think of a reason this extra effort isn’t worth the time and energy, yet shows her that her safety and comfort is your highest priority when approaching your vehicle. I rarely ever see this today. Why? I too confess that I from time to time get too busy, sidetracked, etc. and sometimes forget myself but don’t feel right when I recognize I’ve done so. Guys, this is so important and should not fade into the past as outdated. Show the lady you love that her safety and comfort are important to you. Show others around you that this lady is special!

It’s a day-to-day effort that you really have to stay on top of! Some days we forget and miss opportunities and that’s OK. Just do your best to keep this important aspect of true manhood front and center when the two of you are together.

A Man’s Word is His Contract!

As I was growing up, I remember being taught to always reach out my hand when approaching another man for conversation and to give a firm handshake. My dad had powerful hands. When I reached adulthood and came to visit dad, I would always get a handshake, sometimes a hug as well, but always a handshake. Not only did his hands engulf mine, but his strength was unmistakable. He was firm, but not bone-crushing, intimidating firm. Dad taught me to gauge my firmness by the other man’s grip. To this day, I make a focused effort to greet a man with a firm handshake as dad taught me. It’s odd to me when men today return a soft handshake, given the body language it communicates.

Why am I mentioning handshakes? Because there was a time not so long ago that many contracts were just that! Two men discuss a deal or one asks another for something and when they agree, they shake on it. That handshake to them was as binding as any piece of paper with words and signatures. And when the two reached a deal or agreement, you shook on it. And you kept your end of that deal or agreement! Keeping it may become a lot harder than you expected, cost more, etc. but you sucked it up and kept your word per the agreement.

It seems we live in a society today where paper contracts are necessary to do just about anything in the business world. Attorneys often word those contracts so cryptic that most everyone signs their name to writing language they clearly don’t fully understand. Then there are those “loopholes” that the audacious and greedy attempt to take advantage of when something isn’t going their way and they want out of the agreement. It’s sad that the world, especially the business world, has come down to everything being on a contract, non-disclosure agreement, etc. just to have a decent conversation on a matter.

I’ve succumbed to preferring some business conversations in writing myself, and I don’t like it being that way! It’s dangerous sometimes though in this day and work culture to have a work conversation where people agree to take on assignments, sometimes with deadlines, and then get to a point where something isn’t done, or done on time and there’s the “you didn’t say that”, “I don’t remember you saying that”, etc. An email has become the mainstay of business communications today and can document exactly what’s said. I live in this world every day, but I miss the days of old when two men simply visit and leave shaking hands!

I’ll stop here because this could go on and on and many pages later I’ll still be thinking of ways we as men should live in today’s world, honoring our forefathers who invested so much in us with hopes of us carrying their teachings into our lives, living their code of honor today as they did in theirs.

Keeping it Old School!

Blane Sheffield