The Iron Qualities Part 4: Why it is important for a man to face challenges head on

This is part 4 of a look at the Iron Qualities. That means Apollo Creed has just died, we have a freaky looking robot doing the chores around the house and we’re packing our bags to go to Russia and take on Ivan Drago in his own back yard. Training montage at the ready.

So far, we have seen what Teddy Roosevelt’s ‘Iron Qualities’ quote can teach us in terms of living like a true man through:

And this time, I want to focus on the next part of the quote – ‘…to do without shrinking the rough work…’

This isn’t ‘shrinking’ like your weiner might do on a cold sharp winter’s day. And to avoid any doubt, I’m going to utilise that tried, tested and tired method of going back to the dictionary definition.

Shrink (verb): To draw back, as in retreat or avoidance

Reading that, you can probably tell where I’m going with this. But I like nothing better than rambling and being predictable, so I’m just going to keep writing ad nauseam.

Face challenges head on

Let’s face it – life has its moments where things go tits up. Shit does indeed happen. At points in your life, you will have to do some things that would definitely not make the list of ‘perfect day activities’. Examples include:

  • Getting your dog put down when cure is not an option
  • Having to let someone go if you ever find yourself in a managerial position
  • Breaking up with someone when you know it isn’t going to work out
  • Going through a career change – quitting your job and starting again from scratch

 

 

We call these things ‘necessary evils’ – things that we normally wouldn’t do because they go against our principles or dent our pride. These are the things Teddy labels ‘the rough work’. And sometimes, it can’t be avoided.

And when the rough work can’t be avoided, we need to face it head on, kick it in the balls without hesitation and dominate it.

 

Rip the plaster, don’t caress it

Remember when you were a little boy and you cut your knee and you put a plaster on it while it healed?

You know it has to come off…and you know it’s going to hurt. Poking at it and making half-assed attempts to remove it just isn’t going to cut it. Time is precious and you don’t want to spend an hour trying to convince that plaster to come off by itself

Grab that brute nice and firm and pull back with all your might. Pain…less than a second and mild at most. Plaster, now in the bin where it belongs. The rest of the day….all yours to continue putting into practice a life of the Iron Qualities.

These things have to be done. You know they do. Trying to avoid the issue won’t work – there is no amount of magic in the world that will make these things go away by themselves.

 

The coffee can wait

It’s the same in a working environment. You’ve got a list of things you need to get done today and one of them is not going to be nice at all. Shit is probably going to hit the fan.

So what do you do?? ‘Meh…I’ll do it after lunch’.

And lunch comes….and goes. ’I’ll just grab my 3pm coffee and sort it out after that.’

Before you know it, they day is over and you haven’t done anything.

No – you need to grab the bull by the horns, prepare yourself for the shitstorm and face it head on.

There are a few ways to handle these situations and I’m sure you’ve seen them all

There’s the guy who weasels out of doing anything at all – these men ‘delegate’ or apportion blame, saying things like “hey…it’s not my problem. Jim needs to sort this out.” These guys love nothing better than passing the buck and avoiding responsibility. They have a magical quality of being able to wriggle out of the rough work like a fish.

Then there is a procrastinator. He will keep putting the thing off and putting it off and will eventually do a half-assed job just to get it off his radar for a while. But he hasn’t actually sorted anything out. And sure enough – the half-assed job he did comes back to bite him and he is then left with an even bigger problem to face.

Or there is the man who says “Right…this isn’t going to be nice and I’m not looking forward to it. But it needs to be done and I am the man to do it. So let’s go.”

Which of these men has the Iron Qualities?? Man #3 wins every time. This is the man who realises the rough work must be done and does not shrink from it.

The rough work must always be done

Sometimes, they have to stay as they lay

Taking action in these situations, sometimes we get accused of being cold and heartless or lacking in compassion. One scene in particular from Michael Mann’s ‘Last of the Mohicans’ sticks in my mind when I think of this.

While on the run from enemies, Hawkeye, his father and brother go to their friend’s cabin for aid along with Madeleine Stowe’s character and her sister. The find the cabin burnt however, and all their friends – including their children -murdered and charred. Despite this, they leave everything undisturbed, including the bodies, which they refuse to bury.

Madeleine is disgusted and when she protests at their indifference, we get that great line from Daniel Day Lewis:

“They were not strangers, Miss Monroe. And they stay as they lay.”

We later learn the exact reason why they did what they did (or didn’t do what they didn’t do) – if they had moved/touched/buried anything, their enemies would know they had been there and been able to track them much more easily

So Hawkeye and his family are prepared to to a horrible thing – and it had to be done. Something that pained them to do. Was it easy for them?? No. But this is the point – it’s rough work. And it’s necessary at times.

Maybe you will need to explain why you had to do what you did. And that’s fine. If you have the Iron Qualities, your actions will be driven from the proper virtues and principles. And you will not shrink from taking them.

The Difference between a man and a boy – A tale from France

Laurent Blanc has been slapped in the face by football more than once in his life.

When France won the World Cup in 1998, the man affectionately known as Larry White during his later playing days in England formed one half of an impressive centre-half partnership for the French alongside Marcel Desailly.

But he was missing from the final itself, having played an integral part in getting his team there during the tournament.

In the semi-final against Croatia, during the build-up to a French offensive free-kick, Blanc was in the opposing penalty area waiting for the delivery when he had a sudden realisation. He had invited his old Aunt Marie up to Paris to be his special guest of honour for the game.

She had travelled all the way from the south of France especially to watch her little nephew Larry play in the semi-final; which in itself was a miracle as she hated the capital with all its rude Parisians rushing around and cursing each other all the time.

So to sweeten the deal and make her day a little more special, Blanc had promised to wave to her during the game.

And he really had to deliver…Aunt Marie had told him that if he didn’t, she would give him a good clip around the back of the head. Sweet irony….

 

The difference between a man and a boy

 

Laurent Blanc has a brush with a rock god

With all this suddenly going through his mind and with the free-kick about to be delivered he turned around to find her in the crowd, arm outstretched in a pre-emptive wave. And just at that exact moment, opposing Croatian centre-half and part-time rock god Slaven Bilic wandered across the path of that arm and took a vicious looking (but totally accidental) thumb to the eye.

He went down apparently crying in a heap. The ref smelled foul play, whipping out the red card for poor Larry who was sent for an early bath before facing the wrath of Aunt Marie, who never did get that wave. Here’s footage of the incident along with some bland responses and reaction

Anyway, France went on to win that game and the World Cup itself a few days later. But Blanc learned a valuable lesson that day – the fates of the football world are cruel and fickle.

Fast forward to the present day where he recently got a reminder of the fact.

 

When your social media footprint comes back to haunt you

Now quite a successful manager with French giants Paris St Germain and gearing up for a big European Cup game against Chelsea, his team’s preparations went down the pan when footage from an internet Q&A emerged showing one of his players – Ivory Coast international Serge Aurier – apparently saying some pretty nasty stuff about his team-mates including Angel Di Maria and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

And even Blanc himself wasn’t immune from the abuse, with Aurier appearing to suggest that his manager preferred the company of men.

You can read all about the incident here

 

Larry takes it very badly – but like a man

Now these nasty little incidents happen from time to time – but just as important as what life throws at us is how we react. And how did Larry White react?

Very badly,” he said in a press conference. “Very badly because we can think whatever we think, this is a democracy and we are free to think, and thankfully we can have our own opinions in our country and that’s good.

“But I think that guy, that boy… really two years ago I committed myself to making him come to Paris and seeing what I saw yesterday that’s all the thanks I got and I think that’s really pitiful.”

Blanc generally handled himself pretty well in that press conference and spoke with eloquence and as a man of substance. But here he made the mistake of thinking that he is owed something by the world (personified in this case by Aurier).

It’s a dog-eat-dog world and Aurier is only important to Blanc and the team as long as he is performing and contributing positively. And that’s what they make him a multi-millionaire for.

“It is penalising for him but what I do not accept either is that it is also bad for the club – it is penalising the club.”

Sure, Aurier has now been suspended by the club and he’ll probably get a two-week fine. Worst-case scenario – possibly sacked. Who knows. Either way, he’ll be fine in the long-term.

If he gets sacked, he’ll be public enemy #1 for a while but once the dust settles, some other club will eventually pick him up and sign him to a multi-year contract and furnish his bank account with a few more million. So is it really penalising for him? Short term, slightly. Long term…probably not that much.

 

Never take sides against the family

Blanc’s grip here is that HE fought to get this player signed for the club. The club is his sporting family. The players are his adopted sons. Here is one he personally wanted to adopt who has now betrayed his father’s confidence by apparently talking trash about him on social media.

Why he said what he said or what his motivation was, I have no idea. But Blanc was still angry as he continued his press conference. And he hit on an important point:

“The player is a big boy, he can do what he wants and he will handle the consequences. There are many, many people in that generation that spend their time feeling sorry and excusing themselves but I think before excusing you need to think about what you do.”

When I first read this, I was impressed. It appears Blanc is familiar with The Iron Qualities and must be one of the dozens who regularly visit the site. Bienvenue Laurent.

His point here is that a man – and even ‘a big boy’ – should take responsibility for his actions and ownership of the consequences of those actions.

It’s the easiest thing to do something wrong and then apologise for it. The thing is…apologies are weak and should be avoided as much as possible. Aurier apparently thought it was a good idea to publicly insult his footballing brothers and father on social media and then had a change of heart when there was a backlash.

“He’s a boy that should be preparing today for a last-16 game of the Champions League. That would’ve been better instead of staying at home not knowing what to do.”

Well, one suggestion I can make to Aurier is that he checks out theironqualities.com where he can pick up a wealth of material on how to move from “boy” to man and avoid any of this unpleasantness in the future.

 

It’s strictly business – but let’s at least deal with things as men

Spending time thinking negatively about people and talking trash is really time wasted. But don’t get me wrong – the problem isn’t what he said. It’s that he’s saying this about his adopted family. If you want to talk trash about them, do it to their face or wait until another family adopts you.

It’s an overly romantic idea suggesting that a football club is one big surrogate family. Maybe once upon a time things were like that. But increasingly it’s become strictly business. Big business.

  • Do players care about team mates and see them as brothers?
  • Do managers see their players as sons?
  • Is there a tribal bond between club, players and supporters?

The answer to all those questions is increasingly ‘no’. But that’s a thought for another day.

For now, it’s enough to know that Larry White handled this situation like a man and if you ever feel the urge to talk trash about those close to you – do it to their face instead of plastering it all over social media.

I’ll leave the last word on this to Mr White himself:

“If he’s got a problem with me, I won’t use you journalists to handle the problem. That’s for sure.”

That’s how Aunt Marie brought him up

 

The Iron Qualities part 3: Never give up – Of resolution, of courage, of indomitable will

Resolution

A firm decision to do or not do something; the ability to decide firmly on a course of action

Courage

The quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear

Indomitable Will

A will that is impossible to subdue or defeat

 

Ok – the third hit of the Iron Qualities. Part one looked at positivity while part two covered masculine virtues. This time it’s three for the price of one – a triple whammy of testosterone; a menage a trois of masculinity; a threeway of….you get the idea.

Here’s a reminder of the quote in full again:

“We need the iron qualities that go with true manhood. We need the positive virtues of resolution, of courage, of indomitable will, of power to do without shrinking the rough work that must always be done.”

Let’s look at “…of resolution, of courage, of indomitable will…”

Resolution Courage and Indomitable Will

Life is hard – no two ways about it. It can be a tough place. Are you going to let it get to you?? Are you going to give up?? Are you going to hide in a corner somewhere and hope things will resolve themselves??

No – you are a man of Iron Qualities. You have an iron resolve. The courage of a lion and a machine-like spirit. You never give up.

You stay the course. You face all obstacles head on. You are never defeated.

You never give up.

Things get tough. You don’t succeed at first. What do you do? You keep going. You try again. And again. And again. And again. Until you succeed. Once you have a goal in mind, once you decide to do something, you do it.

You never give up.

That’s resolve.

 

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step…but you have to keep walking

Let’s use the tried and tested example of lifting weights, specifically benchpressing. You want to bench 150kg but right now you can barely lift a tub of ice cream. What do you do?

First thing you do is….THROW THAT TUB OF HAAGEN DAZS IN THE BIN AND NEVER BUY ANOTHER!!

Then you hit the gym, head to the bench, throw 40kg on the bar and chalk those hands. This is going to be heavy baby.

You lift the bar and it feels substantial. Your arms are shaking as you bring it down to your chest. You let it sit there for a moment as you gather your strength for the big push. You lift with all your might and the bar slowly edges up and back towards the stand.

Success.

You go for another rep….but the bar won’t budge. Two reps is a step too far for this bad boy. Well at lest you can tell people what your one-rep max is now, even if it’s not the 150kg you were dreaming of.

So you have a decision to make…are you going to give up and whine because it’s too hard??

Or are you going to remember that you are a man of Iron Quality who resolved to bench 150kg no matter how long, how painful and how hard it is?

Option 2 obviously.

Take a few plates off that bar and start at 20kg

Do your 3×10 sets

Drink your protein

Suffer DOMS the next day

Add 5kg to the bar next time you hit them gym

And the next time. And the next time. And the next time

Guess what?? Now you’re benching 3×10 sets of 40kg when you couldn’t even do 2 reps before. And you keep going. Months…maybe even years. One day someone might say to you:

“What the hell bro…have you been working out?”

Now you’re making visible and tangible progress

“Damn right I have. I’ve been pumping some quality iron.” Pun absolutely intended

150kg is a substantial weight to bench. It’s certainly not impossible, but it will take time, dedication, determination and discipline and with all these things you will get there.

You never give up.

 

It’s a marathon…not a sprint

I’ll tell you another little story…

A few years back, Bo signed up for a marathon to help raise some well-deserved funds for a good cause. I’ve always traditionally been a sprinter, very dangerous over short distances. So 26.2 miles was going to be a challenge, and one I couldn’t back out of.

So I bought a new pair of running shoes and a shitload of Vaseline to plaster all over my nipples and inner thighs and began pounding the roads in preparation.

I started on sessions of around 5 miles close to a 4hr marathon pace during the week. 2-3 of these per week. At the beginning, even this was not easy. I would come home breathing out of my ass and sweating like a pig.

But the real key to successful marathon training is the long runs at the weekend. Around 5 months before the event, I started my weekly long runs. The first one was 10 miles. It hurt like hell and wrecked me for most of the rest of the day.

But I kept going

The long runs gradually increased in length as the weeks progressed. And I began suffering a recurring issue every week – after about 12 miles my thighs would begin to cramp. I had never run these distances before in my life so this was a new experience – and not a nice one.

But I kept going

And I noticed something as the long runs got longer – I could go further and further before the cramp began kicking in. 15, 16, 17, 18 miles…weeks before this wouldn’t have been possible.

Progress. Happy days

And then an obstacle….the third act twist…

I developed some kind of injury in my heel – it was like a sharp pain in my heel and lower calf. Being a stubborn bastard I didn’t go get it checked out. Instead, I self-diagnosed plantar fasciitis – a common marathon training injury caused by drastic or sudden increases in mileage, poor foot structure, and inappropriate running shoes.

Sounds about right…rookie mistakes

So I started to panic a little. I had a training schedule I needed to keep to if I was going to have any chance of a) hitting my target race time of 4 hours and b) actually finishing the thing at all.

Negative thoughts started to creep in. Maybe I could just drop out. I didn’t want to do myself any long-term harm after all….and my preparations were now suffering

No Bo. Not even an option. I pushed those thoughts out of my mind, rested up for a few weeks and got back on the horse

I kept going – kept pushing further

The long runs were now 20+ miles and over 3 hours long. That meant I had to do them early on Saturday mornings – waking up at 6am, horsing some porridge into me before pounding the London roads while the tourists were taking pictures of Big Ben and stuffing their faces with waffles and crepes from street vendors.

Early starts and long runs meant no more partying on Friday nights – no romancing of the honeys; no pints or jaegerbomb chasers; no 3am kebabs…

In fact, I completely overhauled my lifestyle and diet

Discipline, dedication, resolve – I needed to do this

So cutting to the chase, I did it. Completed the race in 4hrs 16mins. On race day I quickly realised I did not train at a fast enough pace to make my 4hr target but hey – shit sometimes does happen.

You are never defeated

 

I must break away and get out into the mountains

This was a sporting goal, but the fundamental principles are the same for anything you put your mind to. Maybe you want to start your own business and make it a success. Or write a book. Or speak a new language. Or learn how to seduce a supermodel. Think of it like climbing a mountain:

You start at basecamp. With little or no ability, knowledge, skill or prowess.

You start to climb the mountain with your Sherpa guiding you and make solid progress. Going is good.

You run into some unexpected obstacles. Maybe you have to backtrack a little and take a new path.

Maybe you get injured or hurt along the way – or you’re forced to confront some old fear or phobia

Will you turn back and give up? No. You keep going. You’ve had this goal in mind all your life and now that you have it in sight – you can actually see the summit all the way up there – you are going to show that iron resolve and you are going to make it

And then there you are, dizzy from lack of oxygen at the peak of the mountain. Ready to plant your flag and claim victory.

It won’t happen if you lie on the sofa scratching yourself and watching reruns of Everybody Loves Raymond. Nothing is handed to you on a plate. You need to go out there and make it happen.

Set yourself the goal, resolve your will to do it, and make it happen

This post isn’t about dressing better or finding the perfect luxury watch to express your manliness because none of that shit matters if you don’t have the resolve, courage and spirit to kick the world’s ass

I’m not going to tell you about my specific goals because you are not me and we will want to do different things. But when you understand what the Iron Qualities are you understand there are several things you should be doing in order to become the man you were born to be:

  • Take care of yourself physically
  • Keep learning every day
  • Visualise the man you want to be and focus all your efforts to becoming that man

Every spare moment of your waking life should be spent in pursuit of your goals. That means:

  • No Facebook trolling
  • Cutting back on getting pissed with the boys and sending drunk texts to your ex telling her how much you miss her
  • Channel hopping and aimless web browsing. In fact, I’d say cut out TV almost altogether – it’s mostly mind-numbing shit and mainstream media propaganda anyway
  • Overtime at work…forget it. Work/life balance boys

 

Make it happen

Never give up

Seriously men – our time on planet earth is finite and we don’t get very much of it at all. So don’t waste it getting zombiefied into a productive drone for The Machine.

Have the resolution to live the life of Iron Qualities

Have the courage to take control and not buy into the hype

Have the indomitable will to stay the path and follow through until you become the man you were born to be.

 

 

The Iron Qualities Part 2: A Man must have a code – Virtues and the Man

Let’s continue the journey into that wonderful quote from Teddy Roosevelt and see if we can’t garnish any more masculine wisdom. I’m feeling pretty positive that there is a lot more gold in there. Here’s the quote in full again:

“We need the iron qualities that go with true manhood. We need the positive virtues of resolution, of courage, of indomitable will, of power to do without shrinking the rough work that must always be done.”

Last time out, I looked at the word ‘positive’ and what that means for men. In this post, I’m going to cover ‘virtues’. And what does the need for virtue mean for men? A quick dictionary search provides a number of definitions:

  1. Moral excellence; goodness; righteousness.
  2. conformity of one’s life and conduct to moral and ethical principles; uprightness; rectitude.
  3. chastity; virginity
  4. a particular moral excellence. Compare cardinal virtues, natural virtue, theological virtue.
  5. a good or admirable quality or property
  6. effective force; power or potency

I’m going to gloss over definition #3 because I know you’re all a bunch of slags at heart. But I would say that the definitions that are of interest to men are #2, #5 and #6.

Virtues: A Man Must Have a Code

 

Oh indeed – A man must have a code

Fans of ‘The Wire’ will be familiar with the characters of Omar Little and William ‘Bunk’ Moreland. They have several exchanges throughout the show and a recurring theme and phrase in these exchanges is that “a man must have a code.”

And I’m not talking about some Revelation 13:16 mark of the beast type of code. Hell fire and damnation…the Anti Christ is here!!!!

What Omar and The Bunk are talking about is a moral code – a set of values they live their lives by. This phrase is said several times in the show and sums up definition #2 perfectly. Omar does some nasty shit but he has a moral code, swears by this code and takes it to heart when anyone suggests he is not a virtuous man in this context.

This is probably one of the reasons he is such a popular character. We recognise and respect the fact that he is morally disciplined. He openly owns up to the crimes he commits against those he deems fair game because in his world, that is within the rules. Killing citizens is not.

And as for The Bunk…well shiiiiiiit. His moral principles make him strictly a suit and tie motherfucker

 

We define our principles

Omar’s principles don’t come from religion, family, government or media. And yours don’t have to either. YOU define how you want to live your life. YOU define what’s wrong and right and YOU life YOUR life virtuously.

Men with the Iron Qualities are men of action – and those actions come from your principles.

We all do it – we create playing arenas with rules. Maybe the rules change over time – maybe new rules get added and other rules get tossed. And if you do something that breaks one of your own rules – deep down in your gut, it doesn’t feel right.

This isn’t about the world judging you or what other people think because you should never worry about that anyway. Ultimately, it’s about YOU being able to look at yourself and be satisfied with what you find inside. Nothing more matters.

Now…I’m not condoning mass murder and flaying of puppies; scamming your friends and family of all their cash and doing kiss & tell stories when you bang a famous celebrity if that’s what you think is right. Which brings us to definition #5: a virtue is a ‘good or admirable quality.’

 

What is ‘good’ or ‘admirable’??

It can be a tricky question. These are principles that are normally formed by communities of people as being acceptable or what the group respects or approves of. So yes, these traits can be a consequence of your upbringing but before I start going into a sociology ramble, I still think there are universal virtues that transcend societies. Showing kindness and preserving life are two examples.

Essentially, what we are talking about here is a moral extension to the core fundamental principles of being a man. Definition #6 expands on this. Here, we are into the world of what Jack Donovan would call the ‘tactical virtues’ of strength, honour, courage and mastery.

 

Are you ready for the ZAS?

Virtues that are valuable for effective survival. Think King Leonidas and his 300 men in the old Greek legend. Spartan boys were raised to be soldiers and warriors and as such strength, honour, courage and mastery of essential fighting skills were drilled into them pretty much since birth.

And in the Frank Miller version of the legend, poor Ephialtes can’t be a true fighting Spartan as his physical deformity would compromise his fellow men in the Spartan phalanx. So when denied the opportunity to become part of the mighty 300, he decides to betray them for a taste of some freaky Persian bunga bunga parties and a nice uniform.

To illustrate this further, let’s consider the Zombie Apocalypse Scenario (ZAS). Mankind has been decimated. Survivors are scattered here and there -they and are few and far between. It’s bad times.

But we hear rumours now and again – whispers on the wind – of the legendary zombie hunter Bo Ideal… ‘Bane of the Undead’…. ‘Scourge of the Skineaters’ …. ‘Cure for the Infected’

  • In zombie confrontations, he has a zombie decapitation success rate of 90% +
  • He knows where to find the fattest squirrels and his squirrel and sawdust stew is a thing of legend
  • He can light a camp fire inside 10 seconds come rain, sleet or sunshine
  • His shelter is always waterproof and built high in the canopy because he knows Zombies are notoriously bad at climbing trees.
  • He has fathered at least 7 children in the last 12 months (3 in one night some say) – thus ensuring the future of mankind.

Of course, the Zombie Apocalypse is still a few years away and there are other ways the virtue of powerful and effective force can be shown by the modern man.

And it’s not limited to physical acts; a man should also havem oral courage and strength of will – standing up for his beliefs and sticking to his moral code in the face of adversity and having the balls to make difficult decisions when they are needed.

 

What can we do to cultivate a virtuous life?

  • Think about and develop a moral code. I mean take time to really think it through – what is important to you…what do you feel strongly about…and importantly…why
  • Live life with these principles engrained in your mind. Use them as a compass to guide actions
  • Identify skills and talents that will make you a man of effective force, power and potency and develop these too
  • Be prepared to defend your principled views against trolls and those who disagree with you
  • Take steps every day to develop and increase mastery of skills and virtues that have been chosen

So there we have it….virtues. Patience is one, and now we know there are many others that a man of Iron Qualities demonstrates and should always strive towards.

The purpose of this post was not to detail every single virtue a man should have but rather to highlight the fact that there are virtues that a man should have and time should be spent every day in developing moral, mental and physical virtues to make you the absolute best man you can be.

That’s enough for now…it’s squirrel hunting time