A Great Man Is Attentive

The other day I was leaving a local café when a man at one of the tables dropped a part of his newspaper as I walked past. I noticed and bent to pick it up for him. He gave me a surprised look - maybe because he didn't expect manners from a younger generation, maybe he didn't expect someone to help him because he was a man (versus a woman), or maybe he just didn't expect anyone to even notice and make the tiny effort so he didn't have to get out of his chair. There are many things this could have inspired me to write about such as the gender or age gaps, but it hit me that the last one was an important part of being a Great Man, a gentleman - simply noticing things. After all if we don't see things happening around us - we aren't attentive - how can we take action, respond or attend to the needs of others.

But what does it mean to be attentive? Attentive has two main meanings:
  1. characterized by or giving attention; observant: an attentive audience.
  2. thoughtful of others; considerate; polite; courteous: an attentive host..

In being a gentleman, being Great, number 2 is the goal, but we can't be that unless we are first number 1 - observant.

Too often I see that men - well all people - just aren't paying attention to the world around them and they miss their opportunities. If we don't notice someone is behind us as we go through a door how can we hold it open for them? If you don't see the driveway coming up how can you wait to let someone who needs to cross traffic get to it? If you aren't aware of the cross walk (where pedestrians have right of way) how can you slow or stop to let people cross a busy street?

Sure there are headphones or Bluetooth headsets in our ears, we are looking at our smartphones as we walk, or other distractions, in the future devices like Google Glass may even take up part of our field of vision besides our hearing. But even those aren't excuses, or the reasons. Most likely we are just too intent on what is next that we don't notice what is going on now. If you are getting that cup of coffee before work you probably are thinking about work before you even leave the register, let alone walking through the café, to your car, and driving to work.

A true gentleman has to be aware - to see and hear - what is going on around them so they can then react. Only then are they fully attentive to others' needs and be able to act upon those needs. Then can a man be a gentleman.


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