I often joke that I’m a good example of a bad example. The truth, however, is that for much of my life, I actually was. I was weak, cowardly, dishonorable, and a lazy sack of excrement. I had nothing to recommend me as a decent human being to anyone.
Then, 15 years ago, my son was born. This tiny little life depended on me, and more than that, he depended on me to be the professor for his life. He needed someone to show him how to be a man, and I wasn’t the one he needed to look to.
For me, it was the kick in the rear I needed to try and be better. It was the moment that started changing everything.
A decade and a half later, I’m a much better man now than I was. I’m strong in many ways, but still have a long way to go in others. I’m far more honorable, though here too I still have my failings. I’m no longer a coward, thankfully, and I’ve found some things I’m actually pretty good at.
However, the fact that I still have failings isn’t acceptable to me. It shouldn’t be.
Today, people love to point out how perfection is unattainable. They’re right, it is. The problem is that far too many people point out the fact and tell you not to be so hard on yourself, that it’s OK you’re less than perfect. They use perfection’s unobtainablility as an excuse, as if the effort isn’t what matters most.
Lebron James will never be a perfect basketball player. Usain Bolt will never be a perfect sprinter. Peyton Manning was never a perfect quarterback.
Yet, all either are or were great. Why is that?
The reality is that none of them accepted anything less than perfection. They knew there was still room to improve, so they constantly worked to get better, to get closer to perfection.
As men, that’s what we need to be and do. We need to blow off the excuses and keep trying to be better men and be better at being men. We need to strive, with everything we do, to be better role models. Not just for our kids, either.
Today, many children are growing up without a father. Why that’s the case could fill entire books, books I’m not interested in writing just now, it just is. That means as men, it’s up to us to be the role models these kids need.
Charles Barkley got into a bit of heat a while back when he pointed out that he wasn’t not paid to be a role model. At the time, I agreed with him. He wasn’t.
Where Barkley was wrong, however, is that while he’s not paid to be a role model, as a man he’s expected to be one anyway. This is what men do. Guys might not, but men do.
None of us are under the spotlight the way Barkley was in 1993, but we’re all still under something like it on a smaller scale. The chances are, someone looks up to you in some way, shape, or form. They see you as a man worthy of emulation.
Now, ask yourself honestly, how do you measure up?