I think I'm lost

Redefine Masculine: Ask For Directions.

“My ancestors wandered lost in the wilderness for 40 years because even in biblical times men would not stop to ask for directions” – Elayne Booster

I’ve recently attended a couple personal development workshops let by up and coming experts Gabriel Berstine, Mastin Kipp, and most recent Lissa Rankin.  While I’m motivated by the content of the speakers at these events, it’s nice that these events are filled with beautiful women!  My most recent workshop hosted by Mastin Kipp to promote Lissa Rankins new book Mind Over Medicine.  In attendance were approximately 15o women and 4 men, not including the 3 men on the speakers panel.  I will say that the high attendance of women is more than likely due to the combination of workshop with the practice of Kundalini Yoga.  A form of yoga that I’ve recently fallen in love with.  However Marianne Williamson, best selling author and internationally sought after speaker, offers lectures every Monday night in Los Angeles and I have found that those events also have a greater number of women to men in attendance.

It seems like you hear more and more how women are becoming more successful in every aspect of life quicker than men.  The number of college degrees including graduate degrees are awarded to more women, and women are outperforming men in the workplace.  Hanna Rosin, author of The End of Men and Rise of Women describes in our pop culture a proliferation of strong women characters playing opposite the male “slacker/lovable loser.” For me Hanna’s work is a disturbing insight… I don’t want to be a “lovable loser!” I don’t want to be part of the good old boys club that can’t quite get it together in today’s modern world.

I have to admit… I don’t get it.  I go to these workshops, I spend quite a bit of time focused on personal and professional development and it’s rare that I’ve experienced an audience where the women didn’t outnumber the men. It’s no wonder why women outperform men! I’ve read Hanna Rosins book, I’ve seen the gender gap flip in many of my friends where the woman is the bread winner, often more educated and overall more successful.  I don’t get why more men don’t actively seek personal development at the rate women seek it.

I understand that throughout history women have gotten the shit-end of the stick. It’s about time things are changing… or should I say just in time! Societal problems are getting worse and the world is needs a hero, a feminine one! I say feminine because we don’t need another woman who imitates a man. Unfortunately many of those women who paved the way for today’s modern feminist movement were women who adopted management practices that don’t differ from from their male counterparts. Thanks to them however, the creation of women support groups are everywhere! While women are enjoying the benefit of years of social, personal, and professional growth, men are lost.

Are we (men – women feel free to stop reading) really so dense that we still are unwilling to ask for directions? In my years of working as a coach most of my clients have been women who stick with coaching for longer engagements than any of the men. It’s possible that it is something about my coaching methodology that is more supportive to feminine traits (cooperation, collaboration, nurturing, vulnerability). Most of my women clients are driven by their passion, while most of my male clients have been motivated by a passion for money, power, and prestige and what they think it might get them. I’m not judging my men clients, but when we start to discuss the roadblocks that keep them from their goals, a discussion of fear and vulnerability is inevitable and I can see their discomfort is sharing their feelings of insecurity.

I strongly believe that the key to getting social, personal and professional development is in creating a safe environment to be vulnerable. Women and some minorities have created forums to discuss the struggles they face and offer a community to lend support toward growth and development.  Men, in this country have no such support systems. I believe that its in our competitive masculine nature to ask for support is still seen as a sign of weakness. There is a stigma in taking care of yourself, asking for help, and needing support.  It’s not hard to admit we don’t know what we’re doing but nobody does!  We can all, men and women, use a little help and support.

I don’t believe that it’s as difficult today for men to reveal their fears and insecurities… Frankly, there are so many men that don’t quite have it together that it’s easier to find someone who can relate. But it’s still not socially acceptable! There’s a reason Hanna Rosin addresses the growing number of “lovable losers” in film and TV. Lovable loser is how we see men who don’t have it together.  We don’t see them as eccentic or creative wanderers… There losers in our culture.  I’m not saying thats right. It’s not.  But get use to it… It’s going to hurt and masculine pride is going to sting. Socially there may be no safe place for men to get support, but get over it! I don’t go to workshops to meet women.  I go to workshops to grow into the man I want to be for myself and for the woman I love. Yes it sometimes sucks to reveal my vulnerabilities in a group of women but I’m not there for them I’m there for me! 

I’ll end on and idea.  There needs to be an evolved definition of masculinity.  Our understanding of what it means to be masculine can’t be limited by some antiquated notion of machismo.  I believe the role of the masculine is to hold a safe place for the feminine to grow.  Unfortunately in this view there is a cap on how far the masculine model will take us.

When we were cavemen, we provided safety and security for our family and communities.  Over time safety and security is synonymous with financial security. Well now that feminine qualities are the skill sets that employers favor, it’s great that women are now dominating new opportunities in the workplace. The role of the masculine is to hold a safe and secure place for a woman to grow and that might mean financially.  Get over it guys. If you have a woman who loves you who also earns more than you, your job is still to provide emotional safety and security which is what our role as men has always been.

Many good men are lost. J.R.R. Tolkien said, “not all that wander are lost.” I believe those that wander aimlessly can use some direction. Be a man, don’t be afraid to ask for directions, don’t be afraid to ask for help, and most important don’t be afraid to be vulnerable.