Masculinity

Abraham Lincoln famously said, “Better to be silent and thought a fool, then to speak out and remove all doubt.”

Perhaps it was in Abe’s spirit then, that before everyone had GPS in their cars, it was a well-worn cliché among women that their husbands would drive around lost rather than stopping to ask for directions.

Personally, I never related to that behavior, but I knew it was a thing.

For me it was more like, “Hmm, I think I’m lost. I’ll ask for directions. Now I’m no longer lost.” But then again, I was never the kind of kid who didn’t raise his hand in school for fear of looking foolish, either. And it’s fair to say, I looked foolish and felt foolish a lot. Often it was embarrassing, and sometimes even painfully so. But I learned that being seen “not knowing” didn’t kill me, and by developing emotional resiliency, I could shift from “not knowing” to “now knowing.”

I bring this up because many of my women friends and women clients express frustration with their husband’s “fragile male egos,” particularly in the domain of intimacy. It’s normal that over time relationships change, and different challenges emerge. But deeply ingrained in men’s psyche is the need to be right and to get it right, and when things are not right, and we don’t know how to make them right, it’s scary. And it feels somehow safer to “drive” around lost then ask for directions.

At a very early age boys learn—more so than girls, I think–that love is conditional. We learn that life is a competition over scarce resources, and we only received approval when we won, when we got the good grades, when we “scored” with the girl, when we got the big paycheck–and it hurt when we lost, or made mistakes, and was especially painful when we got it wrong. We learned we were lovable (or not) for what we did, for what we achieved, not for who we were.

Sadly, we internalized conditional love for ourselves, learning to love ourselves only when we succeeded. From there, it’s not a stretch to only want to do things you’re good at, and to avoid areas of perceived weakness. To be a successful man is to be seen as a successful man—at all times!–and so the image of empowered masculinity becomes transactional, measured by money and the accumulation of trophies. Success means winning, winning means destroying your opponent, and life becomes a zero-sum game. Feelings of doubt or vulnerability are perceived as weakness and need to be quashed if you are to be victorious–and from there, it’s not too far of a journey of disconnection from our hearts and our humanity to the realm of toxic masculinity.

In the context of conditional self-love, then, it becomes understandable how admitting you’re “lost” could be so painful you will do all manner of psychological gymnastics to avoid it. However, we only learn from our mistakes, so if you’re not admitting your mistakes, you’re not learning. If you’re not learning, you’re not growing. If you’re not growing, you’re dying.

In relationship and in intimacy, what worked well in the past often doesn’t work so well anymore. Not because anybody’s wrong, but because everything and everyone changes over time. There’s no shame in that.

But if you’re not growing, you’re dying.

The shame is that the fear of “not knowing” leads to not looking. Old school masculinity “wins” in the short term by force, or by denial, but love always loses in the long term.

My mission is to empower men to create even more love in their world. To do that I believe we let go of having the answers, and learn to ask different questions.

What becomes possible when we stand centered and open-hearted, fully present in this moment, confident in our not knowing?

Let’s show the women and children we love that the patriarchy and toxic masculinity have had their day. Are you ready to join me in launching the 21st Century Man Project?

Think Again and Grow Richer

The other day I was speaking to a group of real estate professionals, and I asked how many of them had read Napoleon Hill’s classic book, Think and Grow Rich.

Nearly everyone raised their hand.

Then I asked, “Who can tell me what–according to this book–is the first step to riches?”

Much tittering laughter followed as it was clear that nobody knew.

“Hmmm.  How’s that working for ya?” I asked, to even more laughter.

At this meeting, the team leader handed out a sheet listing over 20 activities that realtors needed to do to succeed.  Things like, make your calls when you don’t feel like it; systematize your online lead follow-up to ensure “speed to lead”; learn the social media platforms and post specific content for each.

But none of these is the first step to riches.

It’s like if I were planning a cross-country road trip.  And the things on my to-do list were: make a cool playlist; check the weather report for El Paso; make reservations for dinner at that great restaurant in St. Louis.

But none of those things would be the first step to a successful trip.  The first step would be: make sure the car’s tank is filled with gas, right?

According to Napoleon Hill, the first step to riches is DESIRE.  Actually, he goes on to say it’s BURNING DESIRE.  (So maybe that’s the equivalent of being TUNED UP and filled with gas).

Just as most professionals don’t know how to tune up their own cars, most professionals don’t know that DESIRE, and tuning it up into BURNING DESIRE, is the first step to riches. Probably they haven’t given it much thought.  Possibly they don’t know what desire is or how to increase it. 

Most likely they aren’t on the road to riches.

We often use the words want and desire interchangeably, but they are very different energetically.  Want is a feeling of lack we try to fill by obtaining something outside of us (I want more money!) whereas desire is a feeling of overflowing that arises from within us (I desire even greater prosperity!)  This is the paradox of the power of attraction regarding money in that you must create the feeling of already having (desire) the thing of which you lack (want). 

They say, “Fake it ’til you make it” but that doesn’t work because faking it isn’t the feeling of already having it.  The real question is, “How do you be it ’til you see it?”

It’s not simple, and it’s not easy, because cultivating desire is as unique to each individual as cultivating the growth of orchids, or cactuses, or tangerines.  And it’s impossible to do something that’s not simple, and not easy, and not clear, on your own.

The good news is, I’ve invested over 40 years as a creative (music, writing), 30 years in business and sales, 15 years as a sexuality and intimacy educator, and 10 years as NeuroTransformational coach studying desire and cultivating desire in myself and hundreds of clients. 

Contact me when you’re ready to learn how to cultivate your unique expression of DESIRE and get yourself on the road to riches.

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