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Manifesto

Here’s one of my personal posts which friends really seemed to like. Thought I’d share for everyone to see – a new manifesto:

1. Stop buying rubbish stuff that you don’t really need
It won’t make you happy and it will cost the Earth

2. Make more cool stuff ourselves
Music, sculptures, DIY, you name it; just get yourself involved in the production

3. Be the change you want to see
Want people to be kinder? – be kind; want more boldness in the world? – be bold

 

NB: “We need to be the change we wish to see in the world” is a quote supposedly from Mahatma Gandhi, although there is some dispute as to whether he did actually say it. I think he would have, if he’d thought of it. Click here for the Wikipedia entry.


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Adventure

How’s your adventure-level? It’s about feeling the rapture of being alive. Without it, we get risky and aggressive leadership.

I woke-up today with a yearning for adventure – which will likely turn into my next long-distance bike ride or something similar.

Adventure training in the British Army is defined as “Activities where the outcome is uncertain” and that seems right to me on an emotional and practical level. I truly believe that until you’ve had some physical experience that involves risk (even if that is a “managed risk”) and venturing into the unknown in some way, then it’s very difficult to feel satisfyingly alive. And it’s not just a once-only experience. It needs regular top-ups.

There have been times when I’ve experienced adventure at work, when there’s been the right combination of challenge and risk and uncertainty and even some physical challenge. But to be honest, adventure for me needs to feel the weather on my face, for my muscles to be challenged and not just my mind – and I just don’t see that happening in an office.

It’s important to consider men’s need for adventure in a work context because I’m sure that some aspects of male leadership – unmanaged risk-taking and aggressively-competitive behaviour – is a by-product of NOT being able to have physical adventure at work.

Joseph Campbell talked about the need to have physical experiences which match what we already know on the inside about how it feels to be really alive.
As he put it: “so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.”

Adventure is also a great way to let out our inner Wildman. Modern life has a tendency to suppress this and yet, as Robert Bly writes, unless we can release the Wildman to remind us of how resourceful and many-sided our masculinity is, it becomes harder and harder to mature as a man and act with responsibility as a leader.


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Re-Thinking Male Leadership

Masculinity; it’s always better to light a candle than to curse the darkness

Helping my son with his homework this weekend, we found the Amnesty International motto:

It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness

[Click here for more on Amnesty and the source of that motto]

That motto says something about how I’d like to approach my work with men.

You could talk about how men are often outperformed by women in leadership studies or in educational achievement; or about how nearly 95% of the prison population in the UK is male (making crime very much a ‘male issue’) or how men in some demographics are up to four times more likely to take their own lives than women; or the incidence of bullying at work. And there are plenty of other ‘negative’ examples.
It is definitely time to start having more open discussion of issues like these, and to encourage more men to be actively involved in doing so. But for me the darkness is only a part of the picture – and a potentially dis-empowering one at that.

If you look for them, there are examples of men leading with very positive impact in all kinds of areas – at work, in large and small commercial businesses, in the charitable sector and in the public sector. Men who have had to make difficult choices (perhaps unconsciously) to behave in ways that actually go against some expectations about what it means to do things “…like a man” but which are genuinely masculine. That’s where the answers are and where the inspiration is for the rest of us.

I think we need to know where the darkness is – and then light a candle to show that there is more to it than that.


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