What it means to be a Man – Developing character, not just your body

“Everyone tries to define this thing called character. It’s not hard. Character is doing what’s right when nobody’s looking.”

James J. Braddock knew what it meant to be a man. He wouldn’t let anything get in the way of taking care of his family, not even his own pride.

I’ve written and re-written this article over about 10x now and every time I read it, it sounds like I’m judging people as if I’m on some morally superior ground which isn’t the point of the article. And that’s not something I feel like I can claim.

What I’m trying to get across in the article is that we place so much importance on developing our careers or our physiques, and that’s a great thing. But there is so much else that makes you a complete person and there are so many other aspects that make you a man.

Building your body is important, but it seems like there are a lot of examples of men these days that have worked tirelessly on their body or on their craft, and have neglected the most important part of their development: their character.

It seems that when someone has dedicated their life to something wholeheartedly and have gained the accolades, the money and the fame, they are tested in ways they are sometimes not equipped to deal with.

Everything that has happened lately with Tiger Woods has brought this to mind. He’s made a lot of mistakes and he’s going to be paying for them for a long time to come. I know a lot of you are shaking your head right now, thinking of the endorsement deals, the golf earnings and so forth that he’s going to lose out on, but I bet he’s thinking most about his family.

His beautiful wife who may never look at him the same way again. Or his daughter who may have just lost the chance to grow up with a dad in her life because he was off with more women than you can shake a stick at.

He’s a great golfer, maybe the greatest ever, but by putting so much of his time and energy into the development of his golf game, he has failed to develop everything else. I know there are a lot of other factors to this and it’s not so black and white.

He was handed a golf club at the age of two and from that day on his dad put his hopes and dreams, and time and teaching, into making Tiger the star that he knew he could be. Tiger’s greatest feats and greatest growth were all in the game of golf, life lessons maybe weren’t a part of the curriculum.

It’s a shame to see a guy fall from grace like he has. He appeared to have all the tools to handle stardom and life in the spotlight, but there were holes in his character that came to light in front of the whole world.

We all have a lot to work on. Physically we all look in the mirror and see things that we want to improve. I think it’s also important to look at the other aspects of our lives like we look at our bodies. I don’t mean pick away at yourself and knock yourself down, but realize that character is something that has to be developed much in the same way that your body does.

You’re going to be tested with tough decisions; decisions that’ll shape what kind of man you’re going to be in the future and show you what kind of man you are today.

Examples like Tiger’s situation show us what’s most important in life and in the end your family and the ones you love are right at the top of the list. You can’t take them for granted, you can’t abuse their love and you have to work hard to be the best person you can possibly be.

Mistakes area a given, how else would we learn? I’ve made them, we’ve all made them. It’s how we learn from them that will be our truest test.

I think that if you truly know what’s most important in your life, and just how important this thing is to you, you’ll be alright.

Life isn’t easy and I don’t think it’s supposed to be. But it’s worth giving it your best shot because you only get one chance at it.