The most important rule of being a man is simple:
Always do the right thing.
On the surface that sounds so simple it’s almost a platitude.
I’ve made many mistakes in my life: mistakes in business, mistakes in my marriage, mistakes in parenting, and mistakes in friendships. When I analyze them, the ones I regret, the ones where I really screwed up were the ones where I didn’t do the right thing.
Everyone makes mistakes. It’s not possible to live a perfect life. For most mistakes, you take it as an opportunity to learn as much as you can from the mistake and then you move on. If you learn from your mistakes, you’re a better person for each one.
Mistakes are when you don’t know any better. If you try your best and later find out you didn’t get it right, that’s a mistake.
That’s not what I’m talking about here.
What I’m talking about here is doing the right thing. Doing the right thing means doing what you know is right. Let me say that again:
“Doing the right thing means doing what you know is right.”
No taking shortcuts or skirting the issue because that would be easier. It means facing things head on and doing what you know is right.
It means being authentically you and acting true to yourself.
If you get this behavior right, it makes all the other rules of being a man a lot easier. In fact, if you get this one right, it’s almost automatic that you’ll get the other rules right too.
That might make it sound easy. It’s not.
For one thing, doing the right thing in every case isn’t always easy.
Sometimes doing the right thing means admitting you were wrong. Sometimes doing the right thing means putting others before yourself. Sometimes it means facing fears. Sometimes it means having patience and sacrificing today for something better in the long run.
For one reason or another, it’s often not easy to do the right thing.
But the biggest challenge is that doing the right thing requires knowing what the right thing is and this is what gets really hard. How do you really know what the right thing is?
To know what the right thing is requires effort to really know yourself and you have to put that effort in ahead of time. It’s too late to try to figure this all out when you have a decision to make. You have to know ahead of time what your values are, what your priorities are, what your guiding principles are, what your goals are, and what your boundaries are. I’ll have much more to say about this in future posts.
But in many cases, knowing what the right thing is requires you to understand someone else. Does that employee need a push or do they need support right now? Does my child need accountability or empathy right now? What are the words my wife most needs to hear right now?
So to do the right thing means you must care about others and seek to understand them.
To know what the right thing is requires you to be really clear on what you think right and wrong are.
And then you have to do it. You have to do the right thing. You have to do it even if you don’t want to. You have to do it even if it means giving up something else you would rather do. You have to do it even if it’s uncomfortable and even if it scares you.
To be a real man means you have to do the right thing. You have to be true to yourself. You have to be authentic. You have to think clearly. And then you have to act! You have to DO THE RIGHT THING.
– Weston Henry
What does it mean to you to do the right thing?
What has happened in your life as a result of doing or not doing something you knew was right?