“You can tell a lot about a man by his enemies,” writes Tim Dunkin. And strong, self-reliant, principled, outspoken men will have many enemies. You can tell a lot about him by his friends, too. And by what he reads and what he spends his time on, where he goes, and how he treats his wife (if he actually has the decency and respect to marry the woman he lives with).

You can tell a lot about a man by the way he treats waiters in restaurants, by what he tolerates, the choices he makes, and what he stands up for – in public. By his physical shape and whether or not he is addicted to any substances. By whether or not he is in control of his cellphone or whether it controls him. Does he allow his phone to interrupt his conversations or distract him from his dinner guests, or does he have enough self respect and discipline to turn the damn thing off?

You can tell a lot by the way he dresses and grooms himself, and by the way he handles money. And you will know by his lifestyle whether his is a parasite of a producer, by his behaviours, whether or not he is reliable and whether or not he is committed to keeping his promises. Is he punctual? Does he persist or quit easily? How does he handle disappointment? More importantly, how does he handle power and success? Is he frugal or cheap, generous or wasteful?

But you can tell NOTHING by what he says about himself.

Hermann Hesse, in “Bäume. Betrachtungen und Gedichte,” wrote this about trust:

“For me, trees have always been the most penetrating preachers. I revere them when they live in tribes and families, in forests and groves. And even more I revere them when they stand alone. They are like lonely persons. Not like hermits who have stolen away out of some weakness, but like great, solitary men, like Beethoven and Nietzsche. In their highest boughs the world rustles, their roots rest in infinity; but they do not lose themselves there, they struggle with all the force of their lives for one thing only: to fulfil themselves according to their own laws, to build up their own form, to represent themselves. Nothing is holier, nothing is more exemplary than a beautiful, strong tree.

When a tree is cut down and reveals its naked death-wound to the sun, one can read its whole history in the luminous, inscribed disk of its trunk: in the rings of its years, its scars, all the struggle, all the suffering, all the sickness, all the happiness and prosperity stand truly written, the narrow years and the luxurious years, the attacks withstood, the storms endured. And every young farm boy knows that the hardest and noblest wood has the narrowest rings, that high on the mountains and in continuing danger the most indestructible, the strongest, the ideal trees grow.”

Robin Elliott LeverageAdvantage.com