21 tips on how to be a ‘good man’
MY FIRST column of the year is prompted by a chance meeting on an airport tarmac with the former principal of my son's high school. A fine man, the Old Head. A man of faith, understanding and compassion, he once told me his greatest joy in life was finding out that one of the boys he taught had grown into a good man. "And William, I've been fortunate to have much joy in my life."
A good man - it's a concept that can vary quite a bit, depending on your perspective. The Old Head's measure of a good man came from a succinct morning assembly address where he defined a good man as one who contributes, and does so with a sense of service to others, not one of entitlement.
On the plane, the Old Head says as we head towards our seats: "It's a bit of jump for the young fellows these days, William; there's a bit more thinking they have to do, and that's a good thing. The #MeToo movement has seen to that, and the only men who have a problem with #MeToo are those who have something to hide."
He smiles and adds: "I just think that young men need a bit of advice now and then. You've a newspaper column, haven't you?" And he winks.
There are endless books, blogs and websites providing information, advice and guidance on how to live your life, how to live someone else's life, or how to have a positive and lasting impact on someone else. Midlife crisis? How to raise children? Difficult teenager? Books, blogs, and websites abound. But strangely, as far as my limited ability to surf the web has found, there's a dearth of information afforded to what I consider one of society's most vulnerable, unsure and susceptible demographics - the young man in his early 20s.
Having endured the triumphs, tribulations and awkwardness of his teenage years, having left home, having his first serious job, relationship, crisis, confrontation with mortality, he is perhaps a little wanting for advice. So, over a few jars of home brew with my mate PB we decide to offer sage-like, honest and heartfelt advice to our sons, both of whom are in their early to mid 20s.
1. Never touch a woman in anger. Never.
2. Before you go out on a date, do two things at least: shower, and decide which is more important - your phone or your date. Take only one with you.
3. A beer glass is designed for one thing only and ever - to hold beer.
4. Your friends might need you to listen to them occasionally - be the listener.
5. See all, ignore much, do a little - in all situations. Most battles are pyrrhic.
6. Bouncers will generally want to have the last word - let them.
7. Winning isn't everything. The only person you need to best is the person you were yesterday. To validate yourself by comparison is self-defeating, self-delusional and ultimately painful and unrewarding.
8. You are not indispensable, but you are irreplaceable.
9. Your values as a human are revealed by what you do when no one is watching.
10. Most problems aren't.
11. If money solves it, it was never a problem in the first place.
12. Engage in (slightly) risky behaviour, but do so sober, sequentially and incrementally.
13. We have the greatest beaches in the world - use them.
15. Eat heartily. There will be a time when the weight is easy to gain and hard to lose, but not when you are in your early 20s!
16. Learn to make a good cheese sauce. It covers most culinary misadventures and inadequacies.
17. Look outside the circuitry of yourself
- do something for others regularly, anonymously, passionately, voluntarily.
18. It is true; nothing good happens after midnight in a pub, bar or nightclub.
19. Save 10 per cent of your salary/wage, every week. That way you'll get rich slowly, but you will get rich.
20. The music your parents listen to is actually quite good.
21. Always act with kindness.
I know the life that confronts our daughters will have other adventures and travails, but I think there are a few keepers here for the lads.
William McInnes is an actor and author