“Why would you want to be a Gentleman? They are the nice guys and they finish last!” This is a comment made to me whilst in discussion with a British man at a networking event. I pondered this for sometime afterwards and it came to my mind again recently when we were trying to gather our list for ‘Gentlemen of 2014’, which we will release next week. We struggled to find examples in certain categories, especially business and politics and the same individuals came on our radar year after year as they are consistent examples of gentlemanly behaviour. It is said that ladies always fall for the bad boy, the one who treats them poorly.
The phrase “Nice Guys Finish Last” was attributed to the legendary baseball player and manager Leo Durocher. It is not exactly the phrase he said in 1946, but it is as close as we will get. Leo was referring to the opposition team, whom he considered the nicest guys in the world but were losing while he was winning and number one. The phrase has stuck and has been applied to business, romance and life in general.
But how true is it? Do ‘Nice’ guys finish last? In fact what do we mean by a ‘Nice Guy’? How relevant is it in today’s world? This comes down to the fundamental basis of what we are trying to convey at the Perfect Gentleman, that life is about balance.
Society has seen a number of changes in male social interactions, both in the workplace and in romance. We have seen the rise of the lad and the recent backlash against it. The desire for society to be more equal, especially in regards to gender. We have seen that the harsh, sexist, lacking in emotional intelligence, old school boss is frowned upon and even legislated against. Conversely, we have seen the scoundrel lauded in cinema, television and literature, over the course of history the tales that resound across the board are those of heroes battling against the odds to win by doing the right thing.
But lets look at some statistics to clarify our point, there have been many surveys and quite a few academic studies on the subject of ‘Nice Guys’, predominantly in romance. Overall they conclude that the majority of women want to date a ‘Nice Guy’, indeed the figure suggested is generally between 55% and 75%. There is some statistical evidence that ‘Bad Boys’ will have more sexual partners in their earlier years, but this fades rapidly as men age. All in all women want relationships, long-term commitments with men who are not ‘jerks’.
As far as the business world is concerned, there is no hard evidence either way. If we look at similar studies about great business leaders of modern times and those who are financially successful, there is an increasing number of so called ‘Good Guys’. Though they may not all be ‘Gentlemen’ by our definition, but they are good people. We can see in the news that many of those ‘bad business eggs’ get the their comeuppance more and more frequently. Indeed, in the last 5 years the surveys all indicate that rising to the top of a company has more to do with EQ (emotional intelligence), manners and soft skills than being a hard nosed or a Machiavellian power grabber. However, this does not seem to have filtered through to the world of politics and maybe never will, aside from some rare examples.
I put forward that there is a difference between just being Nice and being an intrinsically Good Guy. They are not the same thing, nor are they mutually exclusive. Actions, words and deeds can be nice. The aim is to be nice in general, but there are times when you have to not be nice. In the movie Roadhouse Patrick Swayze said “Be nice until it’s time not to be nice!”. This is what we always talk about at the Perfect Gentleman. The Gentleman is the happy marriage between the Gentle and the Man; between our masculine core and our softer, politer and more feminine layers.
There is no lack of strength by embracing both sides of our nature, in business, romance and life in general. Historically men were required to do all the masculine things such as ride, shoot, and fight , as well as speak languages, discourse on varied subjects, write poetry, dance, and the list goes on. Great lovers such as Casanova and Byron were also great fighters. They may not have been ‘good guys’ by our standards, but they embraced both sides of their nature and inherently they were good people, if not always nice.
Good Guys are those that sometimes have to do things that may not be ‘Nice’ for the greater good or indeed for the benefit of more than one. They might even make a mistake, but the Good Guy knows this and mitigates for it or apologises for it. Being Good is not being weak, being Good is the strength to stand up for your convictions and the convictions of others. To take a greater view of the world and stand proud.
Where do the ‘Good Guys’ finish now? Lets take it back to success in the two core elements; romance and business. Of the ladies we have spoken to since the inception of PG, 99.9% have praised us for what we are doing, have told us that they want a man who is a Gentlemen. The Good Guy is wanted, he seems to be desired and for long term relationships is certainly the preferred option. In business, it is said that in 2020 the biggest skills shortage will be ‘soft skills’. Corporations both big and small are starting to realise people best react to other human beings both from the point of view of the customer and between businesses. They realise that to lead teams you cannot bully and shout anymore. The world has changed and gentle strength and politeness are the backbone for great business.
Society is once again at a crossroads, we seem to be further and further drawn down a path of extremes, and this is just as true in the world of men and their position in the world.
Let us Gentlemen of the world stand up for the ‘Good Guy’ and work together to show that he should, can and indeed will finish 1st!
Striving, as ever, to be Good Guy,