What does it mean to be a real man? I think we can all agree that real men are responsible, reliable, honest, respectful, intelligent, and have integrity, just to mention a few qualities. In short, a real man is a man of virtue, a man who has a lot more values than vices.
Being a real man, in the sense that I just explained, takes a lot of conscious work to be the best you can be in any given situation. Values are not something you’re born with. You choose them and integrate them into your character as you grow through the actions you take.
A real man keeps and is true to his word!
Why should you be a man of your word?
There are many reasons why everyone should learn how to keep their word as soon as possible. To understand why, we have to stop and think about the power of words. Words are the reflection of the kind of person we are, so how we speak and what we say is important if we want to be real men.
When you say you’re going to do something, you’re essentially making a check and you have to be ready for people to cash it. Promises are not meaningless, no matter how small they are.
Every time you say you will do something and you don’t, you lose value in the eyes of other people. Keeping your promises reflects some of the best qualities a man should have; integrity, reliability, respect, honor, self-worth and personal power. Let’s look at each of these qualities individually and see how the keeping of your word can enhance them.
One of the most important values a real man should always strive to have is integrity. In the words of Ayn Rand, a Russian-American philosopher known for her view of the ideal man and the ideal world, “Integrity is loyalty to one’s convictions and values; it is the policy of acting in accordance with one’s values, of expressing, upholding and translating them into practical reality.”
A man who does what he says he was going to do, is a man of integrity simply because he’s not acting against what he believes. A man who keeps his word is not afraid to live up to his own values and standards because he knows he can achieve them. I hope you realize how important this is. The next time you’re about to make a promise, of any kind, and specially if it’s to yourself, think hard before you do it because it’s an important commitment that you have to see through.
I will bet you a million dollars that you don’t trust people who don’t keep their word. Think about it for a second, why is that? Because people who don’t keep their promises are not people you can trust; they’re not reliable. If they don’t take their word seriously, how can they ever expect you to?
Every time you don’t keep your word you’re saying to others: “I don’t respect you enough to make an effort and you can’t trust me.” As a man, is this the kind of message you want to send? If it is, good luck having healthy and deep relationships with anyone, whether they’re personal, interpersonal or business relationships. Trust is to relationships what water is to plant. No relationship can survive or much less thrive without it. Keep this in mind the next time you don’t try your best to keep your word!
The surest way to make people respect you is by keeping your word. Keeping your word is not only a sign of integrity, it’s also a sign of moral strength and people are attracted and look up to this because it is good. Strong men are the ones who go to great lengths to be reliable and to accomplish the things that they set out to do.
Once people notice that you’re not reliable, they will lose respect for you and anything you say. Only say things you mean, only make promises that you are more than willing to keep no matter what, and don’t allow your fear of rejection make you say things or make promises that you can’t keep. Do this, and you’ll be on the path to becoming a trustworthy person.
Self-Worth and Personal Power
When we disappoint others, we’re simultaneously disappointing ourselves. A man can’t be a real man if he doesn’t have self-worth. A lack of integrity is simply a lack of self-confidence and self-esteem; men who can’t keep their word are essentially saying that they don’t think they have the courage to act in accordance to what they believe. In their fear of failure, they set themselves up to fail.
A man’s personal power diminishes for the same reasons. When men stop behaving in ways they value, when they start sacrificing their virtues, they lose personal power. Powerful men are those who have the strength to die rather than compromise their integrity. Think of great men and you’ll notice that what they all have in common is that they consider their values to be the most important thing; if they lose that, they lose their strength and they lose what makes them better than simple animals that act on impulse.
Keeping your word isn’t just for show. It’s a matter of principle.
Once you consider everything that keeping your word means, you realize that this is an important matter of principle. There are a lot of things on the line every time you refuse to be honest and act with integrity; and the most valuable thing on the line is yourself and your relationship to others.
Broken promises slowly but surely crack the foundations of any relationship you can think of, including your relationship with yourself.
Broken promises say that you don’t care about others, and that other things are more important than what you promised you would do for them. What’s more, with every broken promise you tell yourself that your own values are not important to you.
If you think it’s okay to let people down, then you don’t value honor. If you think it’s okay to say things you don’t mean, then you don’t value honesty. If you think it’s okay to never follow through on anything, then you don’t value effort, you don’t value work.
In short, not being a man of your word means that you’re a man who doesn’t respect himself, and as a man who can’t respect himself you can’t possibly respect others, which means you’ll never gain other people’s respect either. This can only diminish your self-esteem, your self-image and your personal power.
How to be a man of your word.
The point of this whole article is not only to show you what it means to be a man of your word, but also to help you become the kind of man that people respect and look up to, a real man. A man of integrity, who respects others and himself, who can be trustworthy and who can get things done.
There’s no manual to be a man who keeps his word, but there are indeed things you can do and habits you can create in order to be able to keep your promises and honor your commitments. Remember that this is not an innate ability; it’s something you need to work on and consciously practice every day until it’s an integrated part of your nature.
Change your outlook on promises and commitments.
One of the very first things you need to do in order to become a man of your word is change the way you see promises and commitments. I’m sure you neglect promises and commitments that seem small, but you should treat them as if they were big, important promises. We make a lot of small promises every day, so imagine what people will think of you if you neglect to keep any of them just because they’re small.
Integrity is not that special suit you put on when you have an important meeting; it should be present on every move you make because integrity matters even when no one’s looking.
Another way to change your outlook is to stop thinking they’re a burden. In fact, they’re quite a privilege. If people trust you and respect you, they will feel comfortable asking you for favors and the fact that you see them through shows them that you care.
Write it all down.
If you’re a man who’s used to taking notes and writing everything down, then writing down your promises and commitments can help you not only to remember them, but also to feel accountable for them. Set up reminders and note things down on your calendar to keep them in mind.
Don’t think about commitments in an abstract way.
What do I mean by this? Well, imagine your friend is remodeling their home and they ask you to help them paint it next month. Now, painting a whole house can be unpleasant (especially if it’s not your house); you’ll be working for hours under the sun, your arms will ache, your feet will hurt, etc. But you don’t think about this when your friend asks you because we don’t tend to think of events in the distant future in a real way. It’s very likely you’ll say yes, but when the day comes you won’t even remember you did.
To avoid this, try to think of long-term promises and commitments as though you would have to do them right there on the spot. If you wouldn’t accept to do them in that very moment, you won’t do it in the future. Think about what it means, about the effort and work it will take you to keep your word and then make the right choice.
Don’t make promises if you don’t want to.
If you don’t want to make a commitment, don’t do it. Being a man of integrity also means being true to yourself and stand your ground; say no when you mean to say no and yes when you mean to say yes. Don’t be one of those guys who says, “I’m not sure, but I’ll try” when you really want to say “Sorry, I can’t”. Be honest; if you can’t, explain why, and if you want to do it, but are not comfortable with the terms, have a discussion.
In case you don’t actually do that, and you promise to do things you don’t want to do, you owe it to yourself to follow through anyway. Go through the unpleasantness of keeping a promise you didn’t want to make in the first place and I promise you, you won’t make that mistake again.
Own up to mistakes.
Now, it’s not always possible to keep a promise no matter how hard you try. And even if you didn’t try, the right thing to do in this kind of situation is just admit it. People can see through excuses, so the best thing that you can do is admit you couldn’t follow through, explain why and apologize. That’s what honorable men do.
Question yourself before you make commitments.
Asking yourself questions before you commit to anything is also a great way to make sure you keep your word. Ask yourself:
- Is this realistic?
- Can I actually follow through?
- Why am I making this commitment?
- What motivates me?
- Am I doing this for myself or for the other person?
All these tools will make it easier for you think clearly in order to be true, reliable, and a real man of your word.
By now it’s crystal clear that being a real man and keeping your word are not two mutually exclusive concepts. In fact, keeping your word is synonym of being a real man, a true man, a respectable man. White little lies and broken promises slowly but surely destroy your character more than you can imagine. That’s why you should strive to be better, to be honest, and to live up to what it means to be a real man.
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