I recently attended a great strength and conditioning seminar down in New Jersey hosted by one of my favorite coaches, Jason Ferruggia. I’ve always enjoyed these kinds of events because of how much I learn and also because of the interactions you have with the other participants.

In one of the Facebook threads following the seminar, a comment was made about me that I could possibly be the “nicest guy you will ever meet.”  I must admit that this is not the first time someone has made this remark to me and every time I have ever heard it, I’ve always had the same reaction: humbled, but with a little bit of a shoulder shrug because I just do not know any other way. It’s how I was raised.

Believe me – I don’t say any of this as a means to brag, boast or pat myself on the back.  Far from it.  I lack the ego to sit around and do that kind of thing anyway.

But it does make me think quite a bit about what it means to be a nice person and the Leo Durocher saying of “Nice guys finish last.”  Heck, as I glanced through the Wikipedia entry for “nice guy” (seriously… there is one) and let me tell you… whoever wrote that, they didn’t look too fondly upon the archetypal nice guy.Marcus Aurelius

I basically chuckle at the entire notion of how someone described as a nice guy is viewed in popular culture.  The guy who never really gets the girl in the end.  The doormat in the office that everyone dumps everything on.  The guy so easily taken advantage of by less-than-true friends.

There are certainly people who fall into all of that, but it’s never fit how I like to see myself.

For me, it’s a fairly simple sort of approach: a combination of (1) the Golden Rule of doing unto others as you would have them do unto you and (2) a smattering of the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius.

If you are suddenly finding yourself thinking, “Umm… and that would mean?”, hopefully I can explain.

Everyone knows the Golden Rule.  It’s the simple notion that you treat people as you would be treated.  Clean, simple, concise.  So point #1, check.

The Marcus Aurelius piece is a bit of using the philosophy of the classic Stoics that the actions of others, in the end, are meaningless in terms of how I think, feel, respond and conduct myself.  In other words, I am going to always do my best to act according to my principles and if you are a jerk in return… that’s on you, not me.  I think this approach takes more strength as opposed to less because there must always be a vigilance in not allowing others to change who you are or sway you into acting in conflict with your beliefs.

Does this mean I sit back and take whatever garbage people may look to lay on my lap?  Of course not, although I do notice that some people seem to think that since I seek to treat people well, that perhaps I CAN be taken advantage of.  It’s a bit sad to see and when I catch it, that person will always diminish in my eyes.  But how I handle it is simple: I give people the benefit of the doubt and when I see they simply have not earned it, my interactions with them will taper off over time.  Oh and I will continue to be polite when our paths cross… but I am obviously not going to go out of my way for them.  Nice guy should never equal utterly bat guano crazy.

So feel free to be a little nice today while sticking to your guns. It’s surprising how liberating it can be to be to see the good mojo you get in return.  And if you get a healthy dose of jerkiness in return?  Their lost opportunity… not yours.