Ron Swanson from NBC’s Parks and Recreation might be the most brilliant character on TV in my humble, expert opinion. I want to be him. My wife is convinced that within a few years I will have completed my transformation in becoming Ron Swanson incarnate, mustache and all. Besides already sharing the same first name, we both hate big government, enjoy high-protein meals, and think wood sailing ships are beautiful.
Swanson’s maxims on life are swift and simple. “The Swanson Pyramid of Greatness” is a work of a genius that addresses a wide array of important subjects, like, for example, fashion attire (“Shorts over 6” are capri pants. Shorts under 6” are European.”). Such straightforward ideology also extends to the area of preparing sons for manhood.
Here are but a few Swanson-isms I plan on instilling in my sons.
FRANKNESS “Cut the B.S.”
Interpretation: Say what you mean, and mean what you say. No one respects a man who’s afraid to confront the real issue.
HANDSHAKES “Firm. Dry. Solid. 3 seconds.”
Interpretation: You must project confidence to others, and a strong handshake is a good starting point.
YOU “You are your biggest ally.”
Interpretation: Many people will tell you what you should do, but at the end of day, you have to decide what’s best for you and those you care about.”
MASONARY “Building walls makes you strong. Defending them makes you even stronger.”
Interpretation: Work hard to build a good reputation, and don’t ever let anyone take that from you.
SELF-RELIANCE “Trust yourself.”
Interpretation: When you’re unsure, go with what your gut tells you.
FRIENDS “One to three is sufficient.”
Interpretation: Having many friends is okay, but when it comes to best friends pick only the ones you can trust the most. There will be few.
INTENSITY “Give 100%. 110% is impossible. Only idiots recommend that.”
Interpretation: Always give your maximum effort, and don’t make idle promises about what you can’t do. There’s a difference between doing and talking.
STILLNESS “Don’t waste energy moving unless necessary.”
Interpretation: Avoid wasting your energy on frivolous endeavors that take you away from what’s really important.
DISCIPLINE “The ability to repeat the same boring thing over and over again.”
Interpretation: There will be many times in life when you have to do menial tasks you don’t want to, but having the discipline to do them is invaluable in life.
TEAMWORK “Work together as if your life depends on it … IT DOES!”
Interpretation: There are times when you have to go it alone, but there are many situations when it’s necessary to work as part of a team. In those moments, give it your all; your teammates will respect you and want to give their best too.
GREATNESS ITSELF “The best revenge”
Interpretation: Retaliating against those who have wronged you will accomplish little and get you nowhere. Instead, strive to be better than them without saying so. People will respect you more, and respect will get you much further in life.
And maybe one of the most important pieces of advice a boy need to understand before becoming a man …
HONOR “If you need it defined, you don’t have it.”
Interpretation: None required.
To my three sons, heed these words. And to Ron Swanson, God bless you, you magnificent man.
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Ron Mattocks is a father of five (3 sons, 2 stepdaughters) and author of the book, Sugar Milk: What One Dad Drinks When He Can’t Afford Vodka. He blogs at Clark Kent’s Lunchbox, and lives in Houston with his wife, Ashley, who eternally mocks his fervor for Coldplay.
Photo credits: Wikipedia released by NBC for commercial use in identifying program characters