The Heart Driven Man
Ok, so here’s the challenge as I consider running a Men’s Program. How do I approach this very comprehensive topic of men and their hearts?
In my last blog article I discussed some of the stereotypes that men have to overcome to become more heart driven and I also identified some of the qualities that distinguish a heart driven man. For me, those are very relevant discussions to consider but in my opinion lack the personal element.
What I would like to do in this article and possibly in a few subsequent articles is talk about the challenges I have with being a heart driven man. What I want to do is create a discussion out of my own personal journey to becoming a more heart driven man. What I want to identify is some of the behaviors that I have to be aware of that draw me back into that more objective head space where I disengage with those around me and isolate. This is a particularly harmful behavior to my relationship with the important women in my life who desire my presence and deserve my engagement. It is important to acknowledge that these behaviors are not particularly unhealthy as they stand alone, but can really impact my ability to keep my heart present and actively engaged with others.
Here is behavior number one;
I like to Problem Solve on my Own
When I am faced with a difficult challenge or a problem to solve, I often retreat into solitude and exercise what I think are effective problem solving skills. I draw back into a very independent, self sufficient stance that says, ‘I will do whatever it takes to overcome this problem on my own. I will figure it out and those who are near and dear to me will applaud me for my resourcefulness. Men really do like to be acknowledged for their achievements.
It Creates a Disconnect
Unfortunately, when I am attempting to figure it out, I am drawing much more on my logical, rational head skills than on my heart skills. Also, unfortunately, those that are near and dear to me are not applauding me because usually they want to be included in the problem solving process with me and they feel left out and distanced. They want to create a team win rather than just an individual win.
A good example of this disconnect took place recently for Christine and I. In June and July we prepared to move into our new townhouse in the midst of all the other challenges of work and life. As the pressure increased to complete all the necessary steps to move and we faced some of the financial demands of moving, we began to slip into a familiar pattern for both of us. When the pressure is on we both retreat into independence and self sufficiency. In doing so we disconnected mentally, emotionally and even physically. After a few days of feeling the disconnect I said to Christine that we needed to talk. She was so focused on taking care of business that she did not think we needed to talk about it. Her head was down doing what she needed to do to get us to the finish line…alone. As we began to talk about this disconnect and how it felt for both of us, it did not take long to see now this was a pattern for us individually and how dangerous it was to our relationship. There is definitely a place for independence in a relationship; however, when faced with a challenge that impacts the relationship it is crucial that a couple work on it together.
How it Shows Up in my Work
It is actually quite remarkable that I have developed experiential, heart focused programs with almost no collaboration from others. Running these programs requires the collaboration and powerful emotional connection to others; however, the actual writing of them has been done on my own in the quite solitude of an office. At times, I have felt profoundly isolated and alone in writing and delivering these programs.
There is something really important about including others in creative problem solving. In doing so you learn about how to interact with others and work toward a group win.
Recently, while I was running a Leadership Facilitation Boot Camp I took the opportunity to run a focus group on some of the possible themes for a Men’s program. The women responded openly and clearly about some of the issues that they thought would be valuable for men to discuss. The men looked a little like deer in the headlights and one of the men concluded the discussion by saying; “Why didn’t I know anything about this twenty years ago.”
It was an excellent illustration of the value of discussing issues in a group and the inspiration that surfaced for me in preparing for a Men’s Group.
What I have discovered in collaborating with others in personal development programs; is that the process of building relationship and community generates a remarkable momentum which produces life changing personal breakthroughs and big group wins.
The biggest win for me personally is that I have to utilize my emotional intelligence to communicate effectively and build cooperation. My reward is how satisfying and empowering it feels to connect with others. At the end of the day, I don’t think there is anything that I want more than that.
How about you men?