Happy Birthday to the Iron Qualities

It’s celebration time at the House of the Iron Qualities. No, this isn’t a delayed Christmas party – the Iron Qualities is celebrating its first birthday
so I’ll be popping open a little bottle of champagne to celebrate.

Wait…no. That doesn’t sound right. Lose the champagne. I’ll be cracking open a six pack of cold malt sodas, chugging the hell out of them and crushing the cans on my forehead.

That’s better.

The Iron Qualities is one year old. Click on to read about what we did in year one and to what there is to look forward to in Year Two and beyond

 

I started this blog as a way to document my thoughts on what it means to be a man in today’s world. To seek out and remember all the lessons our ancestors taught us about how to be men. And through this process I wanted to help myself and hopefully others to gain a little enlightenment and become better men.

I initially thought the ideas and life lessons that took us on the journey from boyhood to manhood had been lost and corrupted in a sea of modern-day apathy, information overload and political correctness.

But in the last year, I have learned that the concepts that make males ‘men’ are still alive and well. And by paying attention and actively looking for the life lessons that help us become the best we can be, we can find them.

There are others who feel the same way I do – I learned that too. My audience started small, and it still is thanks to my disgustingly bad marketing skills. But either through word of mouth or people stumbling across the site by pure fluke, it has gradually grown as men organically discover this site and find something that clicks with them.

In Year Two, I’m going to up the ante. I will keep pushing forward, spreading the word and sharing what I learn on my journey to become the best I can be. I had ambitions to write many more blog posts than I actually did in Year One, so there’s plenty more quality content to come. We haven’t even scratched the surface yet.

So thanks for checking out The Iron Qualities in Year One. If you read anything this year that made an impact, it would be great to hear from you. You can holler at me through Twitter or Facebook.

Ok. Retrospection done. I’m not going to get all gushy and sentimental. We reflect briefly, then keep moving forward. That’s the Iron Qualities way.

We keep doing and pursuing. All action, all day. Kicking ass and…..ok that’ enough. Where’s that six pack…..

The Iron Qualities Part 5: The work of the Iron Qualities must always be done

“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.”

 

This is the final part of the series of posts looking at the quote by Teddy Roosevelt where he talks about ‘The Iron Qualities’.

Once this post is finished, the journey to explore what the Iron Qualities are will be over, right?

 

The journey doesn’t end here

No – the journey towards true manhood never stops. Everything we do every day of our lives should be done with the goal of making ourselves better men – and with the principles of the Iron Qualities always in the back of our minds.

The work of the Iron Qualities MUST ALWAYS BE DONE

The Iron Qualities Must Always Be Done

It is not enough to read about the principles and be familiar with them

It’s not enough to say “ok – I am going to live a life filled with Iron Qualities”

It’s not enough to say “it’s too hard to be that kind of man. I am just an average guy and there’s nothing I can do to change that”

Nobody is born the finished product. Nobody is born as “Man: defined”. You might talk about men you have come across who are ‘naturals’ – everything they do seems so effortless.

I don’t believe there is such a thing as a ‘natural’. The difference with these guys is the stories they tell themselves in their heads and the actions they undertake every day.

  • They are positive – The stories they tell themselves are filled with positivity and affirmative messages
  • They are authentic – They have defined a code of virtues and their actions are governed by this code
  • They have resolve – These men do. Or do not. There is no try
  • They have courage – Doing (or not doing) will often be difficult, dangerous or painful. These men accept this fact and continue
  • They have an undefeatable spirit – They will not be beaten or subdued

That’s right – these men have the Iron Qualities and they are not half-assed about it. This is the secret to success – to be a man of Iron Qualities, there are things that MUST ALWAYS BE DONE. Every day of your life. There are no compromises, no shortcuts and the journey never ends.

  • It’s not optional
  • It’s not part-time
  • It’s not only words

It’s all day, every day action.

So let’s explore these final words a little more – “must always be done”

MUST – Of course…there is always a choice. The choice here is between being a man of Iron Qualities and being an average Joe. By definition most men will chose to be average and just coast along. How about you? Are you ready to be a the extreme right hand side of that bell curve?? If you are, there is only one way to get there…you MUST follow the path of Iron Qualities

Map to the Iron Qualities

You’re at the edge of the map lad…here there be Men

ALWAYS – The Iron Qualities is not a part-time thing. It’s not a fad diet and it’s not a New Years resolution that was made in a moment of crazed drunkeness at the staff Christmas party that dies before January’s end. It’s an all-encompassing lifestyle that provides the fuel and the platform for us to reach and fulfil our potential and get the absolute maximum out of every second of every day. And the journey towards perfecting this lifestyle never stops. It goes on and on and on. Always

BE DONE – The Iron Qualities is about action. Getting shit done. Understanding what a man should do in life and how he should act and then doing those things and acting that way. There is no “I’ll do it tomorrow”, “I can’t do it” and “why should I do it?”. You should do it because you’re a man. Because you can do it. And you need to do it now. Action. Because there are too many hollow words in the world

 

In Conclusion….

So that’s it. The Iron Qualities in something a little larger than a nutshell.

When I first read this quote a while back, I thought it was interesting and it stuck with me. And the more and more I thought about it, the more I came to realise that it captures and highlights most of the core aspects of what a modern man should aim towards.

It’s theoretical and abstract, yes. But the message is clear:

The Iron Qualities mindset drives action and fuels decision-making

And the message is as clear today as it was when Roosevelt first uttered the words – we NEED the Iron Qualities. Men who embody these qualities are becoming fewer and further between as the definition of what it means to be a man gets lost and corrupted.

But all is not lost – the fightback goes on. And in highlighting lifestyle choices and mindsets and everyday observations that I come across, I hope this site plays a part in that fightback.

But Bo Ideal is just one cog in a much larger machine. We all need the Iron Qualities – and the rough work that goes with this lifestyle must always be done.

So this is the part of the story where the group of kids find a treasure map and set off looking for that precious material, knowing they are going to get their asses handed to them on a plate by their parents when they don’t make it back for dinner.

Let’s get doing

 

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 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

The Iron Qualities part 1: Why being positive is essential

How to be a positive man

This blog…this site…this house is built on the solid foundations of the Iron Qualities. They are unshakable, unmovable. Stronger than mountains, more powerful than bombs and more valuable than money.

But what exactly ARE the Iron Qualities? Let’s have a look and see if we can’t figure it all out.

The phrase comes from a quote from Teddy Roosevelt (1858 – 1919) – 26th President of America. Way back in the day, he said:

“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.”

Makes you want to go out and take on the world doesn’t it? But before all that, let’s put our jotters and pencil cases in our bags; make sure we have our ham sandwiches, Dairylea Dunkers and cartons of Ribena in our He Man lunch boxes and go back to school for Iron Qualities 101 and break this quote down.

According to Teddy, there are a few elements that make up the Iron Qualities. And the first word that springs out is POSITIVE.

 

Why positivity is essential for men

Yes because there is no space for negativity in the world of a man. We are animals of the positive. I am defined by what I am, not what I am not – and definitely not what others tell me I am…or am not.

  • Does a man bitch about how unfair life is?
  • Does a man moan about the weather being too hot; too cold; too windy?
  • Does a man tell his friend (or himself) a thing can’t be done?
  • Is a man jealous of others?
  • Does a man gossip about people behind their back?

No, no, no, no and hell no.

Let’s do a compare and contrast to illustrate the point

Mr Negative

You know the types, right? You ask these guys how they’re doing and they meet you with a pathetic, defeated sigh before unloading with all their problems or going off on a rant about whatever is annoying them on that particular day.

It feels like they are sucking the life right out of your soul. It’s a common trait of polite people to sympathise with these individuals, giving them attention and maybe offering a sob story of their own or a propose a solution to the “problem.”

Stop. Don’t do it. You are not a personal Agony Aunt for these people. They need to get their shit together and you have no need to feel a sense of obligation or guilt for their outlook. As a Man of positivity, you lead by your positive example. Whether Mr Negative follows or not is entirely up to him.

My friend Pete from the Old Country used to work in an office environment. His boss would breeze in close to 10am today and trudge up to his office dragging his heels behind him. Pete always used to say that the energy in the place dropped several degrees with each step.

And sure enough, he would come into the room where the plebs all sat open plan and say “(sigh)….morning” in a pathetic way.

Never “Good morning.” No…never good.

He would usually then regale the workforce with a witty anecdote about how he couldn’t watch the latest episode of Sherlock because the kids had taken over the TV.

Or how it wasn’t fair because his brother had just got the latest iphone and he had to wait another 4 months for his upgrade.

Or how he’d been up all night with the flu.

Someone would eventually offer some sympathetic words and he would trudge off to his office where he would munch through a family bag of Doritos and a 2 litre bottle of coke.

It’s not your job to tell these people to stop whining – that’s ultimately up to them.

Of course, there are times when you will have real issues and problems. And if the need is genuine, your boys will be there to listen to you and offer advice – just like you will when someone you know has a genuine need.

But next time you feel yourself about to complain about how you didn’t sleep well last night or how ‘it’s not fair’ that one of your undeserving colleagues got a promotion or your hay fever is playing up…stop. Rein it in.

If you feel negativity slipping into your thoughts and what you say, look at things from a different perspective. Separate the minor complaints from the things that really matter. Remember how it feels when someone starts moaning about this petty stuff to you. You don’t want to hear it and neither do they.

Malicious negativity

And negativity comes in different forms. We also have the malicious type too. The kind of person who loves pointing out weaknesses and character flaws and takes pleasure in hurting people.

In the sports arena, your team mates are your brothers. Together you are a tribe – an army. Of course when you’re a boy it’s never that serious, but at its height, sport can bring out the best in fraternity.

It’s first to 50 goals…jumpers for goalposts…play on until it’s dark – you know the drill.

My father – Papa Bo Senior – was a promising footballer in his youth. Even played for the school team. Pretty impressive right?

He told me once about his coach, who was one of those big bullying teachers who believed in tough love. Huge, colossus of a man barking and roaring at a bunch of 14 year olds. Here’s some of his highlights

“Bo you CLOWN!”

“You’re not good enough to play it out from the back…JUST BOOT IT!!!”

“My 4 year old son could do better than that”

(after getting smashed 6-1) “There are some boys here who will never play for me again. USELESS.”

As a general rule, you shouldn’t be hanging around with pessimists anyway as men always seek out their equals or betters in order to become the best they can be.

 

Mr Positive

When I say ‘Mr Positive’, I’m not talking about Richard ‘Party off the Pounds’ Simmons. But you know they type of man who has the right kind of positivity. He’s composed – his feathers don’t get ruffled. Where others lumber through their daily commute to and from work, he stands tall and breezes through the crowd.

Where others see a problem, he sees solutions.

When something needs to be done – he does it.

When a compliment is earned – he will pay it

If he is lacking in an ability, he learns that ability.

When he wakes up in the morning – he’s ready to kick the day’s ass

It’s almost like he swaggers through life. It’s self-confidence, not arrogance. And a positive nature radiates from that. He accepts the nature of life, the world around him and the tools he has at his disposal.

We all get dealt a hand in life and everyone’s hand is not the same. Life is not fair. Some people get better cards than others.

A man with Iron Qualities looks at WHAT HE HAS – not what he does not have – and how he can use this to his best advantage. Then he takes action and makes it happen.

If he is missing a tool or needs to work on a skill, he goes and gets the tool and learns the skill. No complaints, no whining. Just positive, affirmative action.

Through his actions AND words, a man of Iron Qualities creates an air of positivity for himself and those around him.

He’s the kind of man you want to work for

He’s the kind of man you want working for you

He’s the kind of man you want in your team

He’s the kind of man who says “we can do this”, “every problem has a solution”, “good job”, “I believe in you”, “thank
you”

 

It’s ok for a man to give compliments and be supportive. I don’t mean in a sycophantic kiss-ass brown nosing way; but when someone genuinely deserves it, absolutely let them know. A man is secure enough in himself and his own abilities not to get jealous at the success and achievements of others.

What positivity looks like in action

 

What can be done to cultivate positivity??

Here’s a few tried and tested tricks and techniques:

Affirmations – the messages we tell ourselves can affect our outlook massively

Grooming and taking pride in appearance – adopt the appearance of a positive man

Talk to more people – having a bit of banter with the sales staff or the bartender can go a long way

Help people out – if someone has a problem and can’t see a solution….be that solution

Time management – Use your time to do things that improve you as a person rather than getting sucked into a mindless, soul-sapping work/tv/web browsing routine

Alcohol in moderation – Bo likes the odd snifter as much as the next man. But he doesn’t like feeling groggy and low-energy while fighting a hangover

Avoid junk food – Processed meals with high sugar and fat content with little nutritional value are almost literally shit. And will make you feel like shit too if they are your staple diet

Exercise – Get the blood flowing…get your pump on. It will make you feel fantastic