My brother-in-law, former elite swimmer, now rock star family man with a busy wife and three busy young kids, finished his daily run and declared his ‘gentleman’s mile’ a success. Raised heart rate – yep, varied intensity considering the route included the neighborhood hill – yep, sustained for a health-protecting duration – yep. Nothing fancy. Shoes on – step outside – run. 20 minutes of vigorous physical activity; not 19 or 21 because, schedule wise, the open window was 20.
He’s on to something with his ‘gentleman’s mile.’ Besides swimming, he has a very deep, life-long cultivated ‘Iron Footprint’ and loves all things sport. He values activity for its process and product, attributes he consistently messages and role models to his kids. On family vacations I can always count on him to be my activity buddy, even when it means doing contrived campground workouts using stones for weights and fallen tree limbs for ‘steps’. If he had the time I’m certain he would engage even more, but therein lies the genesis of his ‘gentleman’s mile,’ and the reason for sorting out its dynamics.
On the seat of your chair? Here we go. Well chronicled across social-cultural literature and media is the challenge many women face to ‘have it all’, mainly both raise a family and climb the career ladder. The predicament has its roots in the cultured historic ideals of women’s roles, with which we are familiar so will stop at that. Now, it seems time to include our other half in the having-it-all ponder…and be sensitive. After all, it’s not 1955, gender-ism has evolved, and in many ways the contemporary family man equally manages the day-to-day challenges of work/family life with his wife-significant other – getting kids to school, making dinner, washing clothes, cleaning house, taking kids to practices, mowing the lawn, getting groceries, shoveling snow, picking sick kids up from school… And, to circle back to my brother-in-law, probably like most women, my sister sure wouldn’t have it any other way!
By virtue of gender, men are no longer immune from facing the have-it-all question and the dynamics that come with sorting out its answer. Cramming 25 hours of life into a 24-hour day, prioritizing what happens and when, needing to finish the work report to influence a promotion but wanting to watch a child’s soccer game, and dealing with the charming body changes that dastardly middle-age can deliver.
The take away of the ‘gentleman’s mile’ – a vigorous, daily 20 minute run is a reasonable, healthful compromise—not concession—to a slammed life that includes it all. It signifies thoughtful reverence to the effects of decisions about priorities. Even masterful managers can’t be in two places at once, but wellness isn’t to be neglected.
It seems history will write the definitive report on having-it-all, but in the meantime a daily ‘gentleman’s mile’ seems a realistic part of the mix. Don’t forget to notch your Iron Footprint because your engagement motivation doesn’t care what the activity is called, only that you keep deepening your achievement…