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What does it mean to be a “man”

8 life-lessons that every Dad should teach his son

I recently wrote an essay about what I think a man of a virtue should strive for. My Dad inspired me to write it.

My Dad taught me what it means to be a man.

Every boy is searching for his own way of becoming a man. I learned a lot by observing my Dad. He never gave me the long lectures and pep-talks on the topics like what it means to be a real man. He never spent much time with me to share his life philosophy.

1. He taught me about Respect.

When I arrived in South Korea I was surprised with the way men treat each other here. 1 year of age difference is enough to make a huge distance of power and consequently define the behavior and attitude.

In this world, a man doesn’t respect another man for nothing. Respect has to be earned.

2. He taught me the virtue of Silence

My Dad is an introvert. I am an extrovert. This is partly the reason why we have not talked a lot all these years. Of course, I wish we spent more quality time together but thinking in the retrospective his conversation-avoiding nature became a life-long lesson for me.

A man’s worth is the weight of his word.

It became my philosophy as well. Throughout my life, I had to work with many men that are as empty as their talks. They stated their high ambitions, oftentimes publicly, and didn’t change a shade when they failed to deliver. For obvious reasons, our collaboration was never fruitful. My Dad taught me that the integrity is the primary quality to look for in a business partner.

3. He taught me how to take responsibility

I was recently asked on Quora: “What is the reason why many people do not accomplish high achievements?”

If you want to see something done, go and do it yourself”.

Some people don’t understand it. Some people resist to understand it. Some people understand but scared by it. Maybe those are three phases before one starts to taking 100% responsibility and by 100% responsibility I mean the responsibility-mindset in its all-embracing totality. Let me give you some examples:

  • If I got betrayed, it is my fault. I was naive, stupid and immature to see what is coming and trusting someone who doesn’t deserve my trust.
  • If I got cold, it is not the external virus to blame. It was my responsibility to keep my immune system bulletproof.
  • If people wrong me, it is a signal, a red flag— something is wrong, my relationships are not working so it means that something inside me is not working.

4. He taught me a very simple life philosophy

Dad once told me:

“There are not that many things that a virtuous man should know in life. Take care of your family. Don’t do evil. Do your job and do it well.”

The simplicity of it struck me. When I started to think about it I realized that this is exactly how my Dad lived all his life.

5. He taught me about women

Once I called my Dad after the fight with my girlfriend and I told him: “Dad! She is impossible. I don’t understand her!

We don’t need to understand women. We just have to love them and take care of them. That’s all.

I heard him. I struggle but I deploy. Every time I have a problem in my relationship and there is a part of me that wants to explode I hear the voice of my Dad: “Calm down. You look silly. She is just a woman.

6. He gifted me a strong model of a family

This is what I learned from watching my Dad for years — the best thing that a man can do for his kids is to love their mother.

7. He taught me the Selfless Service.

Let me tell you what I mean by selfless service. My Dad is a seismologist. Well, he is shaking buildings in order to make them more earthquake resistant. He got this job when he was 25. During his long 35 years old career he never changed his job and also he never took a vacation. Never.

8. He taught me how to be a giver

As I was growing up I was watching my Dad walking calm through the storms of life. I saw that no matter how hard the times were he always found the ways to help others. People betrayed him, people turned away from him, people didn’t appreciate his efforts — he helped them still.

  • When the choice was between giving away time for doing the thing himself and giving away money for a speedy quality service, my Dad always chose the latter. He always said:

Good work should always be rewarded.

  • When there was a need in expense for a group of people where there was presumably collective responsibility but everyone was shying away shaking and holding their wallets close to the heart my Dad always stepped up and resolved the problem at the cost of his own resources.

Final words

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My Dad and Mom
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