If the portrait of the Ironman that is beginning to emerge is starting to sound suspiciously like someone who is well into their 30's, you're right. The Ironman is not a kid.

In this man's life, few are born Ironmen. Rather, you become one. In truth, you may never achieve full Ironmanness. Which is okay. Does one ever really become a golfer? A catcher of trout? A sailor?

I point this out for two reasons: I don't want you to become discouraged. It is hard work to become an Ironman, taking enormous restraint, patience, courage, self-discipline, industry, and -- perhaps most challenging — a willingness to change.

Understand, I'm not expecting you to become an Ironman overnight, in a week, a month, a year, or even a decade. It is a code you aspire to live by for a lifetime...and the more you begin to feel it and understand it, the more strength you will discover in yourself to pursue it.

Your Ironman successes will feed upon one another, and your understanding of what constitutes Ironman behavior, and what does not, will sharpen and become more sure.

The second reason I point out that Ironmen are made and not born is that every so often — rarely, mind you, but every once in a while ~ you'll come across some seventeen year old kid who turns out to be an Ironman. And I don't want you thinking to yourself, 'Damn, I'm ten years older than this guy and he's already miles ahead of me. I'll never get there.' Believe me, you will. You just have to keep on trying.

When I was a sophomore in high school there was a freshman, fourteen years old, who was already well on his way to being an Ironman. He was a powerfully built boy of medium height who could throw a football nearly seventy yards. On a line. He was a lad of few words, pleasantly rugged-looking but not particularly handsome, and bright in school. Naturally, boys and girls alike were drawn to him, and by the time he was in his junior year he was clearly the most popular kid in the school. He was pursued by college football coaches, college girls, cheerleaders, and even mothers of cheerleaders.

None of this seemed to go to his head. He was soft-spoken and polite. He didn't pick on nerds or make fun of those less fortunate than he. And if a homely girl asked him to dance on Sadie Hawkins Day, he never refused.

He dressed simply in khakis and a neat, clean shirt. His car was immaculate. He didn't wear long hair or an earring or a ponytail. In fact, he almost never did anything to call attention to himself other than to perform extraordinary feats on the football field. He was friendly to everyone, goofballs and dorks and dweebs and funny-looking kids as well as winners. And I never once heard him say anything bad about anybody.

The truth is he was born with a deep, quiet, confidence in himself, and so he didn't have to put down others to enhance his self-esteem. He just naturally assumed others would like him...and consequently they did.

In fact when I think back on all the different people and ideas that have helped me evolve the Ironman code, I can't help but give a lot of the credit to my old high school friend. He was wise and strong beyond his years. He was born with great talent, and yet he never stopped working to excel, to be the best he could be. And all the while he never saw the need to build himself up at the expense of others.

He was lucky, of course. He was born an Ironman. But that in no way means that we others can't get there. We just have to work a little harder. But in many ways working hard is what becoming an Ironman is all about.


Okay, here's one you might not like. If you want to be successful with women, you've got to be successful in your career.

You've always suspected it. I'm going to confirm it: women are attracted to men with successful, stimulating jobs. Why? It's in the DNA.

A man with a good job earns a good living and, thus, can better take care of a woman and the kids she and her Ironman have together.

I can just see you wringing your hands and moaning right now, 'I knew it! There's no hope for me because I'm not rich now and never will be.'

Hold it right there. I didn't say women only like rich guys — although, of course a certain percentage are attracted to guys strictly for their money; and,
of course, it never hurts for a guy to have a few bucks.

What I did say was this: you have to take your job seriously and do everything you can to do well at it. To a woman that's one of the signs you're an Ironman. You care about your career. It's important to you. In many ways a man's job is the primary vehicle through which he expresses himself, his energy, his creativity, his stamina, his guts, his talent, his desire to excel.

I don't care whether he's an investment banker, second violist in the
Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, professor of anthropology at N. Y. U.,
a roofer, a cabdriver, lawyer, poet or burger flipper, but the Ironman
works hard. Real hard.

His job is important to him. He puts in long hours at it. He strives to excel at it, and does what it takes — reads trade publications, goes to conventions, takes courses, in related areas — to further understand and master it.

The Ironman doesn't goof off, cheat his company of time, steal company supplies, or generally try to get away with doing as little work for as much money as he can.

The Ironman is not a bitter, angry employee who feels his boss is stupid and his company is taking advantage of him. If he is feeling that way, he moves on.

The Ironman knows that to live a full life one must be a complete person...and that having a successful work life is as critical as enjoying a successful love life.

The Ironman also knows that women are drawn to a man who likes his work because women are attracted to men who are truly involved in life, not just skiing the surfaces. A man who likes his job is obviously apt to keep it and even move ahead at it. This helps a woman who is in the process of deciding how much she likes you to feel more secure. You are a man with roots, with skills, a man who others value and want to keep around.

In short, a woman can tell a lot about a man by the way he approaches his career. If he doesn't take it seriously, she wonders what he does take seriously. Women? That's not good. Says you're a womanizer. Bad risk.

Sports? Well, in their place sports are great. They keep you in shape. They're a healthy, legal outlet for your frustrations and aggression. And they're just plain fun. Hobbies? They're good outlets as well.

But when a guy's real focus is his jogging, golf, stamp collection, bottle collection, gardening, fishing, hunting, it's often a sign he's given up on excelling at his career...or hasn't set very high standards for himself...or is afraid of putting his ego on the line in an arena where egos are often battered and bruised.

He may not always like it, but an Ironman can stand up to the battering and bruising. In fact, he knows he's got to. In most centuries and in most cultures, men were in danger of starving if they didn't earn a living.

Going out into the economy and finding a way to carve out your chunk of it is, on its most fundamental level, how you survive. How you feed, clothe, and house yourself and your family. A man who understands this, be it an ever so painful or disturbing thought to him, is attractive to women.

It says he has an acute sense of reality, which is particularly important to a woman when, say, she discovers that you and she are about to have your third kid together. Or, heaven forbid, after twenty-five years of marriage you are suddenly hit with tremendous medical expenses.

When you throw yourself into your job, it tells a woman you're an Ironman, that you don't back off from the more challenging realities of life. Any fool can love a beautiful Saturday in early June, biking along a country road. But it's the Ironman who accepts and even learns to enjoy the difficulties of heading off to work in early February with a temperature and a chest cold, or working weekends, or cancelling a vacation for an important project at the office.

Women will sense such strengths in you and intuit that you are a man who will always provide for her — not necessarily in posh splendor but steadily and reliably and with a great sense of responsibility. And this is vastly more attractive that a sexy pompadour any day.

So set your alarm a half hour earlier when you get into bed tonight and hit the job a half hour earlier. Stop looking for all the reasons not to like your job and start giving it a real go. Be a doer, not a complainer. You just might find you're beginning to like it...and have a lot more talent for your work than you thought.

And when that happens all the good things like raises, bonuses, promotions and perks soon follow. It's not so much that women are looking for a rich man. What does turn them on is a man who is committed to making his way in the world.


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