Unconventional Gentleman: How to Become a "G"

by C.J. SommervilleJan 01, 2020

How to Become a "G"

The Definition of a "G"

Let's be honest.  All of us at some point or another have called ourselves a "G".  It’s one of those terms that is often used, but rarely addressed within the constructs of society.  Most of us think gangster when we hear the term, though few of us mean it in the literal sense.  It's common knowledge that the letter has street origins dating back to crews that ran the streets of New York and Chicago in the days of Capone and The Untouchables.  In the traditional sense, referring to someone as a "G" implies that he or she possesses a certain authenticity in his or her ability to sustain an above-average lifestyle. There is an esteem and infamy that causes us to revere, and often fear, a G.  Yet, most importantly, a G is respected.

But I'd like to pull the thread on the G definition a bit more.  The "G" handle is casually used in day-to-day rhetoric and has become more of a colloquial saying than anything.  The substance of its implication, however, can be driven much deeper.  And as we get older, we begin to recognize that for most of us, the challenge of being consistently authentic throughout all of life's complexities is less about being a gangster and more about being grown.  Hence, for the vast majority of us, the goal is to become "grown-ups" or "grown folk".  We relish the day when we are in the presence of adults talking and are not told to go play.  We've essentially earned a right to sit-in on the conversation... a rite of passage rarely discussed, but often celebrated.

And of course, there's another association of "G", though rarely referenced by the "G" mnemonic.  And that would be Gentleman.  This term refers to a man who is sophisticated and distinguished in both his presence and character.  I find myself seeing harmony in the coexistence of a being both grown and a gentleman.  Thus, the Grown Gentleman, or as I like to say, Grown Man for short, creates the interpretation of the ideal man that has become the benchmark for 21st-century manhood.

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What It Means to Be a Grown Man (Gentleman)

After understanding the definition of grown and gentleman, it's important to understand what it means to be those personas before learning how to be those personas.

What It Means to Be Grown
Grown is a reference to one's achievement at reaching a certain level of experience in life.  This is why we are allowed to participate in grown folks conversation.  The community of adults has identified that we have achieved an acceptable level of adulthood that extends far beyond age.  Believe me, there are plenty 30- and 40-year olds out there who are far from grown based on the limited experiences they have gained in life.  So age alone is an ineffective measure of grown-ness, if you will.  There also needs to be the presence of wisdom and struggle, success and failures, receiving and giving, growth, and maturity.  A daughter can never truly appreciate what her mother goes through in raising her until she herself becomes a mother.  The fatherhood lessons given from a father to his son, either directly or indirectly, may be understood early on, but are only internalized with the experience of becoming a father. 

What It Means to Be a Gentleman
Being a gentleman is less about experience and more about behavior and character.  A gentleman conducts himself with a presence that conveys class without contempt, style without extravagance, and confidence without arrogance.  The gentleman will be poised yet passionate and will often find himself to be leading without seeking leadership.  The term goes beyond chivalry.  Of course, pumping gas for a lady, and begging someone's pardon are welcome attributes that are few and far between these days.  But the epitome of this persona is the ability to inspire others such that they feel a higher internal greatness through engaging with you.

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Becoming the Grown Man (Gentleman)

With the context of the Grown Man established, the last question is how does one become a Grown Man?  I've outlined a few of my thoughts on this below.  Keep in mind, this is not a "quick start" guide.  As I said earlier, there is no substitute for experience when achieving grown.  However, these are some points of interest that should appeal to those individuals just starting out, as well as those who are well established.

1) Ensure You Have the Right Mindset
It all starts here.  As they say, before you can change anything on the outside, you must start within.  And ground-zero is confidence.

Establish Confidence
You have to see yourself as worthy of the honor and respect to be considered both grown and a gentleman.  You have to believe that you've earned your "stripes" and a seat at the table.  Likewise, you have to acknowledge your gaps and that you may not be quite as far along as you may think. In this case, you will need to do your due diligence in maturing before you can ask to be recognized as part of the grown community.  Regardless, in the end, you have to see your internal worth and confirm that your core values align with those of a gentleman's.

Expand Your World View
A key element to becoming a Grown Gentleman is greatly reducing (if not completely eliminating) superficial ideologies.  For instance, "value" goes far beyond monetary.  There is value in time, in learning, in exploring and in creating, just to name a few.  If you know someone who travels regularly, or if you do yourself, you'll notice that those who travel tend to be more openminded and possess a deeper understanding of humanity.  This is because they see communities, outside of their own, with different cultural, social and religious paradigms, yet the society functions well.  Traveling is a great way to begin gaining an understanding of those things that are important (ie., valuable) in life.

Embrace Failure
It is natural to work hard in avoiding failure.  After all, it's the effort that was expended in trying to achieve success that makes failure so bitter.  But failure is an opportunity to learn and grow.  It is in failures we learn how to succeed.  So it's important to ensure you have a growth frame of mind, that is, a mindset to not be afraid to take calculated risks, and will use failure as a vehicle to success rather than an excuse to quit.

Your Word is Your Bond
This is pretty straight forward.  If you say your going to do something, do it.  The credibility of a Grown Man is founded on integrity.  If you find it difficult to honor your obligations, be on time, or have a fear to commit, you'll want to reevaluate your readiness for this way of life.

Put in Hard Work
Having a strong work ethic is essential to be both grown and a gentleman.  You cannot be afraid to get dirty, metaphorically or literally.  Success and prosperity rarely come easily.  This mindset will serve you well in achieving both.

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2) Walk the Walk

Evaluate Your Grooming and Wardrobe
Being a Grown Man is work.  Thus, it should be no surprise that being a gentleman takes effort.  You will have to seriously evaluate your character and behaviors to see if they align with those of a sophisticated man.  For instance, you may find that your wardrobe needs to change considerably.  If your closet is full of gym shoes, tattered jeans, and jerseys, you may want to consider swapping those out for casual/dress shoes, slacks, and a collared shirt.  You'll also want to familiarize yourself with a pocket square, boutonniere, and cufflinks.  Additionally, you may notice your grooming may require some calibration.  A gentleman looks clean.  That said, clean does not necessarily mean polished.  Beards are "in" these days.  So there's no formal requirement to sacrifice facial hair.  But the hair should be manicured.  Any ruggedness should look intentional and tame.

Broaden Your Palette
So what does a gentleman eat or drink?  This question goes to diet, which is another area that should be assessed.  Used to burger and fries every day?  You'll need to consider expanding your pallet to other cuisines that are both healthier and requires utensils.  A fan of big brand beers?  Maybe consider local brews that possess more sophisticated notes.

Diversify Your Social Life
You'll also want to consider adding new behaviors to enrich and diversify your style.  It is highly common for a gentleman to savor a glass of red wine or bourbon.  Or enjoy the company of colleagues in a cigar lounge.  These are not mandatory for you to do, per se, but are fruitful for you to study.  These are activities enjoyed by millions of gentlemen worldwide.  And to be a part of that inner circle, you should know about these and other customs.  Knowing the difference between Scotch and Bourbon may, one day, allow you to converse with highly influential figures.  However, if you do decide to partake in these pleasures, do so in moderation.

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3) Own Your Life
Part of being a Grown Man is taking ownership of the quality of your life.  When you treat your life casually, you get casual results.  For instance, a Grown Man doesn't have a job.  He has a career, whether working for an institution or working within one he owns.  Further, the Grown Man identifies opportunities to help others.  This doesn't mean doing for others things they should do for themselves.  But it does imply demonstrating compassion, humility, and gratitude in supporting and/or uplifting others.  There is a sense of purpose and connection that comes from helping someone else in their time of need, even if it's just to help them see they can resolve the need themselves.  Giving is a major contributor to quality of life.

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There are other considerations in being a Grown Man, but these are taken from a 10,000-foot view to help cover the essence of being grown, a gentleman, and the unification therein in one broad brushstroke.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this.  Got something to add or share?  Leave a comment below.

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