If you are a guy who wishes he were more of a gentleman, I would highly encourage you to visit The Art of Manliness, an uncommonly rich online resource that aims to “reviv[e] the lost art of manliness.” My brother-in-law, Zach, pointed me to the site as he has found it tremendously useful in his pursuit of ongoing refinement and I must say, I wish I had known about it earlier! It is chock-full of information and inspiration.
One of the articles in particular, “The Secret of Great Men: Deliberate Practice” piqued my interest and I hope you take a few minutes to read it, whether you are a man or a woman. Greatness is inherent in each of us, but it is foolhardy to expect that your unique brand of excellence will magically appear out of nowhere.
Of course certain rare individuals in the recorded history of man were blessed with the unrestrained expression of genius in one area or another, such a revelation usually comes at a high price. Most “geniuses” suffer from imbalances that make everyday life a challenge. I have to wonder if the imbalances emerge in part from the highly focused attention given to a certain activity, be it a sport, a musical instrument, invention, art or in whatever area you may be seen as being gifted.
The author challenged his readers to “man-up” by applying the principles of deliberate practice to an area of their lives that is in need of improvement. One of my own goals at the moment is to be more proficient and efficient in the encompassment of those for whom I am responsible at home and at work.
The life of a leader is a demanding one, and I am keenly aware that certain pastures in the various fields of responsibility suffer from inattention at times. When I have a lot of irons in the fire I find that I have to be hyper-vigilant and careful to visit – in thought, word or deed – every person, place and thing that depends upon me for guidance and leadership at least weekly. While significant loss is not always avoidable as there are things out there that are beyond the control of any and all of us, doing the best that you can – without excuse, carelessness or thoughtlessness is a great starting point.
I’ve been practicing deliberately and with regard to this particular goal I have made notable progress, especially since the conclusion of a significant business transaction that I’ve been working on for nearly two years now. Will life go back to normal? Well, maybe a new normal…we’ll see!
If there is anything I’ve learned about the application of deliberate practice it is this: don’t celebrate overly when you take ground and don’t waste time griping and bemoaning your fate when you don’t. Keep on keeping on, as they like to say in this neck of the woods.
I’ve also learned that it is important to keep the larger vision in mind, especially when you encounter setbacks. The failure to do so inevitably constrains to a loss of perspective while consistently doing so leads to a more balanced approach to the ups and downs that you encounter along the way.
Life’s lessons are endless and manliness (not bravado), grace (the product of humility) and the constant pursuit of refinement of your ability to bless the world around you are the mark of a gentleman. Thank you, The Art of Manliness and thank you, Zach for inspiring me to press onward and upward!