Conor McGregor: A Man of Iron Qualities

McGregor. He’s so hot right now. McGregor.

Back in July 2016 it was reported that the UFC had been sold to the WME-IMG Group for something in the region of $4bn. A huge sum of money – this is the biggest franchise sale in sports history.

Some journey for an organisation that was once described as ‘human cockfighting’.

And when asked about that sale and the number behind it, UFC Featherweight Champion Conor McGregor said this:

 


“I think I played a nice role in that number. What was it? It was estimated at two billion at one stage before I came along. I remember when I first started here, it was a two-billion dollar franchise. I remember hearing that much. And now, since I came on, it’s four billion. And the year before it was sold is my year, numbers-wise. I played a nice role in that too, so the number motivated me.”

 

McGregor’s rise to the top of the UFC game has mirrored that of the organisation itself. Once scratching a living as a professional Mixed Martial Artist on the UK and Ireland circuit, he is now arguably the biggest draw in the sport – and one of the biggest in the entire sporting world.

But is he right – Is a large portion of that $4bn pie down to his contribution? Or is it all just hype?

Conor McGregor | Driven, determined, single-minded...or brash, cocky and arrogant. Conor McGregor is a man of consequence who has risen to the top of the world of MMA. But is he all style and no substance? Read on to find out

The notorious Conor McGregor

McGregor’s MMA journey began in his native Dublin when he took up kickboxing and joined a boxing club at an early age.

When he left school, he began an apprenticeship in plumbing while training part-time in MMA. And aged 20, he decided to chase his dream and became a professional Mixed Martial Artist.

By the time he signed with the UFC in 2013, he had an MMA record of 12-2. And despite tearing his ACL early in his UFC career, he went on a six-fight winning streak which earned him a Featherweight title shot against Brazilian Jose Aldo – a man who hadn’t lost a fight in the Octagon in over 10 years.

McGregor made history in that fight – becoming champion by recording the fastest knockout in UFC title fight history when he put Aldo’s lights out after just 13 seconds.

He then followed that up with another historic win at Madison Square Garden at UFC 205 when he owned UFC Lightweight Champion Eddie Alvarez. Owned…no – he made Alvarez look like an amateur. In doing so, he has become the first man in UFC history to hold title belts at two different weights at the same time.

 

Is McGregor all style no substance?

His trash-talk and brash confidence at weigh-ins and press conferences have made him a love/hate figure. And despite his success in the octagon, some people still question his merits as a world class mixed martial artist.

I’m not going to pass judgement on his technical fighting skills. But at the very least, any man who is prepared to step into the arena of combat and take a hit deserves respect. And someone who does it repeatedly, comes out on top more often than not and makes history while at it, should not be taken lightly.

Behind McGregor’s bravado is a man filled with determination and desire to become his absolute best. He is in possession of a fire and a focus that has driven him to the top of the game. We don’t see the hours, days, weeks, months of hard work; the innovation he is prepared to embrace; the curiosity for new techniques. We only see the fancy suit, the sunglasses and the swagger.

He comes across as prickly and antagonistic in the run-up to a fight. But he has tapped into something important – he knows how to generate pay-per-view buys. In reality, he is an extremely motivated and hungry athlete who won’t let anything stand in his way.

After his Featherweight title win, he moved up in weight to fight Nate Diaz in what ultimately became a two-fight double-header and one of the most talked about UFC confrontations in a long time.

He took on Diaz to test himself at a heavier weight and use the opportunity as a stepping stone to make history. And it worked. He has made his mark on the sport and then some. he has done exactly what he set out to do.

 

Conor McGregor | He has an unshakable belief in himself and a determination to suceed in whatever he does. Click through to find out what other Iron Qualities Conor McGregor has

 

This guy is a real character

Before a fight, he becomes a character. A character who has mastered the art of getting people to buy pay-per-views and talk about him. A character who has generated a huge amount of buzz.

But there is substance behind the style. And a hell of a lot of it. His coach John Kavanagh probably sums it up best when asked about McGregor’s motivation:

 


“Conor is not driven by money or fame; he is driven by contest and competition.”

 

He is renowned for training at all hours of the day and is constantly trying new techniques in order to improve. He is curious about new ways of doing things and is not prepared to accept the status quo just because ‘that’s the way things are done here.”

No – he is a disruptor and an innovator. And if something doesn’t work, he discards it.

One example of this is how he studies and adapts animal movements into his training schedule.

 


“’I’m fascinated by it so I study all forms of movement, animals because they are graceful and beautiful, I just enjoy movement as a whole. But anyone who is doing anything; I will analyse a man walking down the street to see how they carry themselves. I feel you can tell a lot about someone by the way they carry themselves so I try to move cleanly and efficiently.”

 

Does McGregor have the Iron Qualities?

So what does this all mean. Does Conor McGregor have the Iron Qualities? Can we look at him and say ‘there is a man who has true masculine values’? Let’s compare what McGregor has said over the years with the Iron Qualities checklist.

Positive

“Nothing good ever comes from worrying or sitting there feeling sorry for yourself….keep positive and keep pushing forward and things will turn good.”

 

Virtues

“You need to appreciate your surroundings and be grateful for it, and that’s when good things happen. To have that bitterness and negativity, that’s when things go bad. I think the fact that I appreciate everything and that I’m grateful for the things around me, that’s why it’s going so good for me.”

 

Of Resolution, of Courage, of Indomitable Will

“There’s only one thing that’s impossible to beat…a man that doesn’t give up.”

 

To do without shrinking, the rough work

(on losing to Nate Diaz) “I’ll handle this loss like a champion. I will not shy away from it. I will not make excuses for it. I lost in there. There was errors. But errors can be fixed if you face them head on.”

 

…that must always be done

(fighting is) “in my head 24/7. I don’t think about nothing else. I’m curiously fascinated with it. Everything in my life is related to this.”

 

 

What’s the price of success?

Ok – he talks the talk. He has the Iron Qualities and the results of his actions are there for all to see. But the question remains – is Conor McGregor responsible for the UFC being valued at $4bn? Is he worth that much?

I say no.

McGregor is a study in what it takes to succeed. We can all learn something from his positive attitude and approach to life.

  • He has an insatiable hunger and determination to succeed
  • He doesn’t back down from a challenge or make excuses
  • He has a curiosity that drives him to innovate and improve
  • He is driven towards his goal with a single-minded focus

$4bn? He has the Iron Qualities. And that is priceless.

Nathanial Poe: A Man of Iron Qualities

Michael Mann’s 1992 film ‘The Last of the Mohicans’  is a special piece of cinema. In fact it is so special it has earned one of the highest accolades in film and television in being named in Bo Ideal’s top 5 favourite movies ever. Ace.

One of Bo’s honeys once told him that a truly great movie needed two things –  pretty people and explosions. I guess she hadn’t seen any of Michael Bay’s filmmaking attempts but The Last of the Mohicans has plenty of both.

But what sets it apart from the likes of Bad Boys 2, Pearl Harbour and Transformers? One of the main reasons is the character of Nathaniel Poe – the adopted white son of Chingachgook, last chief of the Mohican tribe and played by the acting juggernaut himself – Daniel Day-Lewis.

This is a character who can teach us all a thing or two about being a man. Anyone who has seen the movie will understand what I mean. And if you are one of the unlucky few who hasn’t – well…get on it. This is a mandatory piece of the Iron Qualities curriculum.

Hawkeye aka Nathaniel Poe

Beholden to none – not living by another’s leave

The character of Poe and his adopted Mohican father and brother live off the land in Frontier lands in Young America during the mid 1700s. They make a living trading furs and hunting what food they need.

They are living in the middle of the French and Indian War and they become entangled in it when they rescue the daughter (played by Madeleine Stowe) of a high-ranking British Officer from a group of Huron Indians.

Poe and his family escort Stowe’s character and her daughter to the British Fort where her father is based. Following a seige and heavy artillary bombardment by the French, the Fort is eventually surrendered by the British who are allowed to leave the Fort and head back to Albany in peace.

They are ambushed on the way by those pesky Huron Indians again and Poe, Stowe’s character and the rest of his family go on the run, which eventually leads to one of the great climaxes in movie history.

 

Nathaniel Poe – kicking the shit out of adversity since 1755

So the character of Poe gets caught up in some serious adversity in the movie. And like I always say – men of Iron Qualities face adversity head-on and kick the shit out of it. Poe is no different.

From the very first scene of the film, the Iron Qualities of Poe and his adopted father and brother assault our eyes and ears. We find them on the hunt in the woods where they snag themselves a pretty impressive looking stag. Not for game – but for food. Out of necessity.

Poe and his boys are able to comfortably live off the land – demonstrating some top notch tracking and hunting skills. In the modern world of convenience where we have GPS and supermarkets, these skills are less and less in demand. But men of Iron Qualities seek to be self-sufficient and I’ll tell you what – if there was ever a Zombie Apocalypse, I would absolutely want Nathaniel Poe at my side.

Poe and Bo vs the Zombies…the dream team. It’s like when Hulk Hogan teamed with the Ultimate Warrior to fight the Triangle of Terror at Summerslam ’91.

 

Poe is looking at you, Miss

And as this is Hollywood, there is a love interest. In this case, Madeleine Stowe. Poe sets his eyes on her pretty quickly but doesn’t turn into a pathetic swooning mess in the process. He maintains focus on what needs to be done and a honey will always fail the test when it come to breaking this resolve.

When he does focus his attention on her however, he does it directly and with a single-minded purpose. After escorting Stowe’s character and her sister back to the British fort where their father is based, he finds her in the infirmary.

Needless to say, about 5 minutes after this they are smooching behind the bike sheds like a pair of horny teenagers. There’s not a woman alive could resist the Poe stare-down. There was no approach anxiety here…no pickup artist games. Just a self-confidence bordering on cocky. The way it should be.

 

You say dilemma, I say meh

Remember that adversity I talked about earlier and how Poe leaves it bloody and broken on the floor? Let’s talk a little more about that.

Numerous times in the movie, Poe is faced with difficult dilemmas. And each time, he shows that he is not afraid to take decisive action.

  • On the way to the British Fort with Stowe’s character, he stops at the cabin of a friend. They find the cabin burnt out and the charred bodies of his friend and young family laid out everywhere. Poe touches nothing and refuses to bury the bodies, as doing so would have been a sign for the Huron that someone had been there
  • While at the British Fort, Poe speaks about the cabin scene and the implications of what he saw (guerilla warfare by the Huron on the Frontier). He facilitates escape for the local militia so they can defend their homes while he himself stays – an act seen as sedition by the British Officers, which he is improsioned for
  • While on the run from the Huron, Poe and the group are discovered. Rather than fight superior numbers and probably die, he runs away and leaves Stowe and her sister to be taken prisoners; the plan being a rescue attempt later with better odds of survival

 

The Last of the Mohicans

In the final scene of the movie, Poe’s adopted father rightly refers to himself as ‘the last of the Mohicans’. Mohicans here stands for something more than the dying Indian tribe. It’s a way of life that is being eroded and ultimately lost. A way of life that is making way for the modern ways of the Europeans who are fighting all around them.

Poe and his father live outside this world. On the Frontier, “beholden to none, not living by another’s leave.”

In a debate with the Chief of another tribe, Poe comments on the many problems that the French and English bring with them in a cutting piece of foresight:

“Would the Huron make his Algonquin brothers foolish with brandy and steal his lands to sell them for gold to the white man? Would the Huron have greed for more land than a man can use?…Would Huron kill tribes with disease? Would the Huron fool Seneca into taking all the animals in the forest for beads & brandy? Those are the ways of Yengeese and Les Francais masters.”

 

Greed, deceit and desire for trivial things. Traits that Poe as an adopted Mohican rejects. Traits that any man worth his salt knows don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world.

 

 

 

The Fallen at the Somme

There have been many men is history who had Iron Qualities – those characteristics that make real men. And sometimes, they die too soon before they can really make their mark on the world. I’m taking an opportunity to stop, reflect and remember a generation lost before they could really become men in their own right. The fallen at the Battle of the Somme .

 

The fallen at the Somme

 

1st July 2016 marked the centenary of the start of World War One’s more bloody battles. In the days before, the Allied forces had bombarded the German defensive line with heavy artillery near the banks of the River Somme in north-east France.

The bombardment was supposed to cut through enemy barbed wire and demoralise the German army so that when the Allies went over the top, it would be more a procession than an actual battle.

And so on 1st July 1916 at 7.28am, the Allied British and French forces left their trenches and went over the top expecting little resistance from the German side.

But on that morning, it quickly became clear that the bombing campaign hadn’t really worked as planned. The Allies marched into No Man’s Land shoulder to shoulder and were quickly gunned down by the Germans in a hail of machine-gun fire.

 

The Battle of the Somme began

Instead of achieving a decisive victory that would hasten the end of the War, it turned into one of the bloodiest battles in history. Countless thousands would be killed, go missing in action, or suffer life-changing physical and mental injuries.

The Battle continued until November 1916 and by its end, over 1.3 million were lost or wounded – the majority of those being killed.

1,300,000 lives either ended or changed forever. And all because a young Serbian nationalist killed an Austrian Prince two years earlier.

That assassination in Sarajevo sparked a series of events that eventually led to the events of The Somme. Along a stretch of land near the France-Belgium border, thousands of men lay in trenches opposite each other in conditions that assaulted all five senses.

They coexisted with rats in the thousands and fought their way through mud so deep it could swallow a man whole. Their clothes were heavily infested with lice that made them itch like hell. Disease was everywhere, as was the sound of constant shell bombardment.

‘Our hands are earth, our bodies mud and our eyes puddles of rain’ (Erich Maria Remarque – All Quiet on the Western Front)

And that was the last thing those men knew about this world as they went over the top on the blow of a whistle that day in 1916. A world that was ended in an explosion of blood, noise and metal.

Those two words – ‘The Somme’ – now symbolise an entire generation of men lost to the futility of industrialised trench warfare.

There have been countless tributes and memorials to all who died in that Battle. For now, it’s enough to say that on 1st July 1916 some 35,000 men died following orders. And we remember.

We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow….

 

Mr Miyagi: A Man of Iron Qualities

Miyagi. The name that strikes fear into the hearts of Cobra Kai everywhere

Mr Miyagi

Before I go any further – if you haven’t seen any of the original Karate Kid movies

a) shame on you

b) spoiler alert

The Karate Kid movie franchise is awesome. Well, the first movie anyway. Looking back with hindsight – Karate Kid 2 & 3 are actually pretty ass. And ‘The Next Karate Kid’ with Hilary Swank…..no.

The basic premise is the old tale of the outsider / underdog rising up to beat the odds. Very feel good…all very nice. But what elevated the original movie from good to awesome and made the sequels passable was the character of Mr Miyagi.

 

Mr Miyagi is – in all senses of the word – the man

If you are of a certain vintage, you probably grew up with his lessons on life and karate. He is wise, funny, self-reliant and indestructible in pretty much any hand-to-hand combat situation.

He is also one of the most patient characters in cinema history. Put yourself in his shoes. Would you have the patience to deal with that whiny turd Daniel LaRusso? Me neither. Think about it:

  • Miyagi was enjoying a quiet life as a building maintenance man. Daniel and his mum move in and the first thing he does is break the water faucet in the apartment before barging into Miyagi’s office area with a bad attitude and a demand to fix the leak
  • He then gets Miyagi involved in his playground war with the Cobra Kai lads. Miyagi skilfully negotiates a truce for Daniel and tries to teach him some karate, only to be met with more attitude. Despite this, Daniel somehow manages to win the All-Valley Karate Championship and Miyagi thinks it’s job done. He can go back to his maintenance man ways and get on with his life in peace.
  • But no. Daniel reappears a few months later, angry and whiny having broken the car Miyagi gave him as a gift, broken up with his girlfriend and complaining that he has to move to Fresno where his mother got a job.
  • Miyagi, being a man of action, quickly fixes the car, calms the boy down and provides him accommodation for the summer
  • But when he gets word that his father is dying back in Japan he makes plans to spend a few final quality moments with Miyagi Sr. before he takes The Long Journey. And like a bad smell that just won’t go away, Daniel San turns up at the airport, uninvited, and tags along.
  • During what is an emotionally difficult time for Miyagi, Daniel causes untold chaos in Okinawa. Chaos that Miyagi once again has to set right – all the while mourning his recently deceased father, trying to woo his former honey and make amends with his childhood friend.
  • And finally – when the pair return to America, Miyagi decides it’s time to realise his dream and open his own bonsai store. Once again, Daniel’s meddling ways almost destroy this dream when he antagonises Mike Barnes and his cronies who then smash the store up multiple times. So when Daniel once again gets in way over his head with Barnes, Terry Silver and John Kreese, Miyagi finally has enough and takes matters into his own hands once again by beating the bejesus out of the trio before training Daniel once again to win the All-Valley Karate Tournament

 

And it all started with a leaky faucet…..

Miyagi was in the right place at the right time to help Daniel. Help him in every aspect of his life. He is the father figure that is missing from Daniel’s life and acts as a perfect counterpoint to his mother – offering help and advice on life in a non-judgemental way, fulfiling a crucial role of passing on the most important life lessons to the boy.

Granted – at the climax of ‘Karate Kid 3’ Daniel is still a rash and moany snot, but I can’t help feeling his life would have been in a much worse place had he never met the man from Okinawa.

Miyagi is the perfect mentor figure – he has all the characteristics of a man who lives a life of the Iron Qualities and demonstrates composure, self-reliance and how to live life by a code.

And he introduced the world to the crane kick – which has since proven effective in real life, with UFC fighter Lyoto Machida using it to dispatch UFC legend Randy Couture, proving Miyagi right: “When done right, no can defense.”

 

So Miyagi has earned his spot as a Man of the Month. But what is it exactly that means he is a man of the Iron Qualities? Check it:

“Never put passion in front of principle, even if you win, you’ll lose”

Miyagi has a clearly defined set of rules that govern how he lives his life. And he sticks to these. Through his teachings to Daniel, we understand what it is that drives Miyagi and what is important to him.

What he’s also saying here is that letting emotions get in the way of your principles is not a good thing. Just look at any one of Daniel’s many emotional outbursts throughout the series to see this in action. Having a temper tantrum like a child is not the Iron Qualities way.

 

“Here are the 2 Rules of Miyagi-Ryu Karate. Rule Number 1: ‘Karate for defence only.’ Rule Number 2: ‘First learn rule number 1.’”

Following on from the previous point – Miyagi is telling Daniel that there are rules to using karate like a true man. The rules have evolved over time through the experiences of many men throughout history.

He is also telling Daniel that picking fights and bullying people because you know the crane kick or the drum technique is not the way. But if someone starts some shit with you, that’s when you neutralise the enemy – much like Miyagi does in every fight scene in which he’s involved. I mean…the man beat the shit out of Cobra Kai badass John Kreese without even touching him. Damn.

 

“Walk on road, hm? Walk left side, safe. Walk right side, safe. Walk middle, sooner or later get squish just like grape. Here, karate, same thing. Either you karate do “yes” or karate do “no.” You karate do “guess so,” ” [makes squish gesture]

Be decisive. When the time comes to take action, take action. Don’t hesitate.

Have an opinion. Take a stand. And be prepared to defend that position.

 

“It’s ok to lose to opponent. It’s never okay to lose to fear”

Sometimes in life, you find yourself in a pickle. How you react in that situation is what makes you a man. Acting in the right way despite being afraid is what separates the men from the boys.

Miyagi is faced with several daunting prospects throughout the movies. Each time, he shows composure and takes decisive action. Like a boss.

 

“Lesson not just karate only. Lesson for whole life. Whole life have a balance. Everything be better”

Miyagi essentially teaches Daniel how to be a man through the medium of martial arts. Here he is telling him that a man should focus on all aspects of his life and seek improvement in each of those areas. It’s no good being an Olympic karate champion if you have no friends, can’t talk to a honey and have no knowledge of great literature and art.

 

“Daniel San… you too much by self… not good. To make honey, young bee need young flower… not old prune”

Miyagi is specifically talking about Daniel spending time with his woman – but he is also saying that if you want to become a better man, you need to put yourself in the best environment to make that possible. And that includes surrounding yourself with the right people.

I do find this one kind of ironic as Miyagi appears to have no other friends in America apart from Daniel…

 

“First learn stand, then learn fly. Nature rule Daniel San, not mine”

Everything in its own time. Patience and composure. The journey to being a man of Iron Qualities is just that – a journey. And it never ends. Enjoy taking the next step in that journey today, and don’t worry about the steps to come until that time comes.

 

“Always look eye”

I’ll end with this one. And I’ll let the video do all the talking. This is the big reveal from the first movie, where we find out what “wax on, wax off” really means.

As usual, Daniel is being a whiny brat. But where Daniel sees a problem, Miyagi sees an opportunity.

And count how many times Miyagi refers to eye contact. Always look eye, men.

 

 

 

 

Kurt Hahn: A Man of Iron Qualities

Men with the Iron Qualities are a little bit like a woman with both outstanding beauty and intelligence – they are out there and they exist, but coming across one is a rare and unexpected moment. It’s a little scary but also intriguing.

With that in mind, I want to highlight men – real or fictional – who have demonstrated some of the principles that define the Iron Qualities. Think of it like a slightly less sexy Playboy Playmate of the Month.

Kurt Hahn - The Iron Qualities

Kurt Hahn – An unexpected start

I had several men in mind to kick this off with – but there are lots of little coincidences in the world. I was thinking about this the other day, I read an excellent article about a man who ticked a lot of the Iron Qualities boxes – Kurt Hahn.

Hahn was born to Jewish parents in Germany in 1886 and suffered severe sunstroke as an 18 year old which resulted in the removal of the occipital bone at the back of his skull and required him to wear a wide-brimmed hat when outdoors for the rest of his life.

He worked several jobs before founding the Schule Schloss in Salem in 1920, a private boarding school where he also served as headmaster.

He became a fierce critic of the Nazi regime during Hitler’s rise to power – this was heightened by an incident where a young communist was killed by Nazi troops in front of his mother. Hahn spoke out against the murder, and then against Hitler and his regime itself.

This led to him spending several days in prison before an appeal by the British Prime Minister saw him released. He then moved to Scotland where he converted to Christianity and founded Gordonstoun – a boarding school in Scotland that shared similar principles to the school in Salem. Alumni include Prince Philip and Prince Charles.

He went on to found several other boarding schools around the world before returning to Germany, where he died in 1974.

 

Forming schools based on a philosophy

Ok, so what? A German school teacher who had an overdose of sunbathing as a child. Pretty bland. Where are the Iron Qualities??

Well much like our Autobot brothers from Cybertron, there is more than meets the eye here.

“There is more in you than you think” is an inscription found on Hahn’s family home – it became the motto of his life’s philosophy and also served as the motto for one of the educational institutions he went on to form. It sums the man up pretty well.

Hahn was all about “experiential learning” – putting kids in situations that were mentally and physically challenging. He believed children were inherently decent and had a strong moral sense but that these traits became corrupted by society as they got older.

His educational principles were designed to provide opportunities for personal leadership and for students to see the results of their own actions – the goal being to halt this corruption. And the principles were refined and crystalised into what became known as the ‘Seven Laws of Salem’ around 1930:

  1. Give the children opportunities for self-discovery
  2. Make the children meet with triumph and defeat
  3. Give the children the opportunity of self-effacement in the common cause
  4. Provide periods of silence
  5. Train the imagination
  6. Make games important but not predominant
  7. Free the sons of the wealthy and powerful from the enervating sense of privilege

I love it. I mean, an educational philosophy with these principles at its core is much better and more practical than the learning by numbers approach we enjoy today to enable schools to meet government exam pass targets.

Hahn expanded on this and offered some more explanation on his educational principles:

“I regard it as the foremost task of education to insure the survival of these qualities: an enterprising curiosity, an undefeatable spirit, tenacity in pursuit, readiness for sensible self denial, and above all, compassion.”

Everything about this stinks of the Iron Qualities. These qualities should be central to a boy’s journey to becoming a man and with a huge chunk of a boy’s life spent educational institutions, weaving these principles into that routine is exactly what is needed.

 

Six Declines, four antidotes

Hahn also created a list of points that he felt summed up exactly how society fails and corrupts the young – the ‘Six Declines of Modern Youth’.

Decline of Fitness due to modern methods of locomotion (moving about)

Decline of Initiative and Enterprise due to the widespread disease of spectatoritis (a passive spectator rather than an active participant)

Decline of Memory and Imagination due to the confused restlessness of modern life

Decline of Skill and Care due to the weakened tradition of craftsmanship

Decline of Self-discipline  due to the ever-present availability of stimulants and tranquilizers

Decline of Compassion due to the unseemly haste with which modern life is conducted

 

Bingo. This guy absolutely nailed it. This is why men of the Iron Qualities are so few and far between. Too many of us think:

  • It’s easier to lie on the sofa all weekend for a big sporting marathon of football, boxing, rugby and tennis rather than going to the gym and pumping some iron
  • It’s easier to watch and read about other people trying and failing something challenging (and then passing judgment on them) rather than trying ourselves
  • It’s easy to fall into the routine of ‘eat, sleep, work, repeat’ rather than stopping to smell the roses now and then
  • It’s easier to buy disposable items and trash them rather than getting quality expensive pieces that last a lifetime
  • It’s easier to get wired on caffeine or something stronger to get you through the work week and then get wasted on a bottle of Buckfast at the weekend to forget how much you hate your job rather than having the discipline to take control of your life and take it where YOU want it to go
  • It’s easier to keep running to catch that train to get you to work rather than stopping to help that little old man who just tripped and fell over

 

Iron Qualities – old school style

It’s strange and sad that something written about boys almost 100 years ago still resonates today – and not just with boys but with men too. Hahn was industrious however and didn’t just stop with identifying these declines – he also proposed four remedies:

Fitness Training (e.g., to compete with one’s self in physical fitness; in so doing, train the discipline and determination of the mind through the body)

Expeditions (e.g., via sea or land, to engage in long, challenging endurance tasks)

Projects (e.g., involving crafts and manual skills)

Rescue Service (e.g., surf lifesaving, fire fighting, first aid)

These ‘remedies’ were built into the curriculum at Hahn’s schools and went on to form the basis of the Duke of Edinburgh Award –  designed to recognise young people’s achievements in a series of self-improvement exercises.

Old Bo here participated in the scheme when he was in high school. That particular adventure was short lived however – one of my teachers took a dislike to my expedition group and made our time in the scheme hell. On top of this, I was the only one of us who could even remotely read a map and knew what a compass a) was and b) looked like. All this meant that my Duke of Edinburgh adventure was like a fart in the wind – lingering briefly in my life before disappearing forever and becoming no more than a distant memory.

 

Start the day in the right way

At Gordonstoun, the boys rose at 06:30am for a cold shower and a run, the timetable for the day much like that in the German schools Hahn had earlier formed. At 21:15 there was a quarter of an hour of silence to enable the pupil to “glean the harvest from his manifold experiences” before lights out.

This is a tough way to start the day – but a fantastic way. There is plenty of material online and elsewhere about the many benefits of cold showers and a little 5km run in the morning does wonders. This is a routine I started trying to implement a several months ago. Waking up 45 minutes earlier than normal; do a little stretching; get some air in your lungs by banging out a 20-25 min run; then hop into a quick 2-3 minute cold shower to get the blood flowing.

It might sound crazy, but you feel like king of the world after this routine. Granted, it’s not always easy to motivate yourself to get up at 6am if it’s sub-zero temperatures pissing rain and darker than a black steer’s tookus. But creating a habit of positive action and doing it more often than not is a battle everyone can win.

And while you are up and about working to improve yourself and become the best you can be, 90% of the population are still in bed snoring.

 

Hahn was the man

While Hahn may not have physically resembled what we typically think an Alpha Male looks like, he dedicated his life to a philosophy that all men should pay serious attention to. The emphasis on practical physical activities rather than over-reliance on theoretical learning provided a fantastic foundation for children at his schools to go on and live a life of Iron Qualities.

The principles that he engrained in his schools showed that Hahn understood how men should live their lives and realise their potential – and he created and refined a curriculum and learning methods to facilitate this.

Ask yourself the question: Would you rather finish school with the skills to:

  • Prepare you for an exciting career in banking or
  • Become a self-reliant and driven man (who also has some quality numeracy skills as and when required)?

 

Self-reliance, compassion, discipline, drive/determination – these are the qualities Hahn wanted us to cultivate and these qualities are central to a life well-lived for men. For the majority of us, our schooldays are over, but it’s never too late to learn.

I’m glad I discovered Kurt Hahn and his philosophy on education. As I was reading about his life, a thought kept going through my head:

“It’s like this guy had an internal magnet that pointed him in the direction of the Iron Qualities”

And it’s for that reason he absolutely deserves his place as a Mon of the Month.

Remember the Hahn family motto – “There is more in you than you think”

This is true for all of us. Don’t settle for an easy auto-pilot life of mediocrity – take control and make yourself the best person your can be. You might surprise yourself.

Now…I’m off to dust off the De Lorean, travel back in time and give that Duke of Edinburgh Award another shot.

1.21 gigawatts!!