The idea of a gentleman is as difficult to define today as it was in Victorian England.
The concept of the gentleman was not merely a social or class designation. There was also a moral component inherent in the concept which made it a difficult and an ambiguous thing for the Victorians themselves to attempt to define, though there were innumerable attempts, many of them predicated upon the revival in the nineteenth century of a chivalric moral code derived from the feudal past.
What can we glean from this? The Victorian’s saw it as a social and class dependant moral upstanding with a program of chivalry as outdated then as it is today.
When we think of a Traditional Gentleman who springs to mind? Cary Grant? The Duke of Wellington? Conversely when we say Modern Gentleman who do we think of? Harvey Specter? James Bond?
When looking at the lives of those mentioned it is hard to gain anymore clarity on the subject. Grant was notoriously ill tempered; the “noble” Duke had a “vigorous sexual appetite” and, besides being fictional, Specter only cares for himself and Bond shags and shoots anything that moves.
It is therefore difficult to find the perfect archetypal Gentleman. Past or present, imaginary or actual.
With no one to model ourselves on how do we define such an illusive marker?
Fret not! This puts us in a unique and fortunate position. The sheer ambiguity of the term allows us to define it for ourselves, and to cut our own path with the new definition of the Modern Gentleman as our compass.
So, what makes the Modern Gentleman according to Gentleman’s Evolution?
Confidence is the mark of a Gentleman both traditional and modern. He knows the difference between confidence and arrogance and is always the former, never the latter. He carries himself in a manner that demands respect, without being imposing and unapproachable.
Engagement is as simple as paying attention and being present. An issue plaguing the Modern Gentleman is the smartphone! Look people in the eye when you are talking to them. It is infuriating to talk to the top of someone’s head.
A gentleman is in control of his emotions and doesn’t lose his temper. He knows that emotions are biologically programmed to help us deal with dangerous situations. These evolutionary responses are not needed when talking to someone who doesn’t share our point of view. The bigger man is always the one who holds his temper.
Consideration for other people is paramount to being a gentleman. No matter their status, occupation, social standing, whatever, he will never look down on another! He knows that everyone is fighting their own battles and there is no way of knowing what someone else has been through.
Greatness is something to strive for every day. It is a pursuit, a lifestyle. He puts his best foot forward in every situation. A gentleman knows that he defines his own greatness and is the measure of no other man. Half of the battle to becoming great is discovering what makes you great!
A gentleman without impeccable taste is no gentleman at all. This extends to his style, his home, what he puts into his body and even those he spends time with.
This is the framework for the Modern Gentleman, in future posts I will breakdown each marker into actions so you know exactly what you need to do.
The Modern Gentleman has all the qualities listed above and any number of other characteristics. Confidence, Engagement, Restraint, Consideration, Greatness and Taste are guidelines for the Modern Gent. How he chooses to embody any of these markers is completely up to him, yet another advantage for the Modern Gentleman. Our differences, approaches and personalities make each gentleman unique. So above all else do what you KNOW is right for YOU and you are half way there.
PS If you have any characteristics in mind you didn’t see here add them to the comments or email me.