20 Lessons From My Men’s Group That Have Improved My Life

Photo by Eric Beteille of www.pedestrianphotographer.com

Photo by Eric Beteille of www.pedestrianphotographer.com

Sweaty Eye Syndrome is okay, Courage is a chameleon, and even Badasses make mistakes.

“I didn’t have anyone regularly checking me on my B.S.”

Back in 2010 I realized that I had a serious deficiency of good man friends. I didn’t have anyone regularly checking me on my BS, and I didn’t have anyone I felt sure I could call and ask for advice over a beer or coffee. I’ve always had good guy friends, but I had been in Los Angeles for a few years and nothing naturally consistent had cropped up. So I got a couple of guys I knew I respected and we started a group for forward-thinking men who seek self-improvement. We know that men are creatures of action, and we often do our best thinking and growing when we are physically and energetically moving forward, so we made it a weekly hiking group and The Moving Men’s Group was born.

We literally walk the walk and talk the talk every Sunday in Griffith Park, where we work on finding real clarity, formulating goals and, most of all, connecting with other like-minded men who will strive to make us accountable to ourselves.

It’s been nearly 3 years, the group has grown and evolved, and I’ve gotten a lot from the group. I wanted to share a short list of some key lessons I’ve learned with the help of my peers:

  • Own yourself. I am my own responsibility. My integrity and power are not subject to circumstance or coincidence. My BS is mine to work through. My awesomeness is also mine to work with.
  • When in doubt, check the compass. My purpose/calling/passion/mission is the compass that helps me navigate the journey.
  • We all want sexand we all want intimacy. They are best together, and unsustainable separately.
  • Accept her challenge. My woman/partner challenges me to be my best self everyday. If I’m paying attention, she will show me my blind spots; and although it’s painful and frustrating… I actually want that.
At our core we are goofy creatures made of laughter. Let the goofball out more than the goon.
  • Men are non-violent at our core. At our core we are goofy creatures made of laughter. Let the goofball out more than the goon.
  • Surround yourself with good men. If I look around and don’t have men in my inner circle who I admire for their integrity and highest intentions… I need to find new men or challenge the men around me to grow with me.
  • Shhh. Intimacy among men is just as achievable in silence as it is in conversation.
  • Masculine and feminine are equal and opposite energies, neither good nor bad. Both are necessary for healthy sex, work, love, and self-awareness. Also, Good and Bad are both man-made concepts… so be careful when assigning them to anything.
  • The greatest gift a man can give a group of his peers is his powerful commitment to his own purpose. It is honoring to the world when I give my fullest (the masculine).
  • The other greatest gift a man can give a group of his peers is his brilliant vulnerability. It is honoring to the world when I open my fullest (the feminine).
  • Sweaty Eye Syndrome is okay. Tears shed among brothers are tangible bits of trust, courage, and love. If you can’t deal with a little crying, maybe you should toughen up you big non-crybaby!
  • Explore! There are thousands of ways to climb the same mountain.
  • Appreciate the journey. Remember to look around. There is always something to appreciate along a journey.
  • Courage is a chameleon. Courage doesn’t always mean charging ahead. Sometimes it looks like admitting a weakness out loud. Sometimes it feels like motivating the guy in the back of the pack with a helping hand. Sometimes it sounds like asking for support.
  • I don’t know everything but I know everything I need to know when I need to know it. I have to learn to trust myself and the process.
  • Challenge is natural. The tests are there to make sure I’m paying attention
  • Badasses make mistakes. I know that mistakes are just part of the process of becoming my badass super self.
  • Always be moving. Steps forward create momentum. We are all victims of inertia. If you’re stuck, make a move and then course correct. Stillness is a move when chosen consciously – but is stagnancy when it becomes a set-point.
  • Powerful significance comes from embracing insignificance. Step 1, learn how to be myself for myself, Step 2, learn how to help others by being myself, Step 3, Realize that nothing human persists—I can’t save the world forever—and then commit to living fully in my purpose/integrity because it’s the most infinite and integral thing I can do with my little life.
  • Hug people more. You can never get or give enough hugs. Especially other tough guys.

Photo by Eric Beteille of www.pedestrianphotographer.com

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About Dale Thomas Vaughn

AKA "Mr. Mentorship" - Dale has spent a decade leading more than 170 award-winning men’s workshops. Dale's work helps men of all ages to go from adrift or merely content to purposeful and on fire. As seen on CNN, CBS “Texans With Character,” and in the LA Weekly, Dale has been proclaimed as “a man of quality and one of the leaders of men of quality” by best-selling author and top feminist attorney Gloria Allred. Dale founded the Global Center for Healthy Masculinities, hosting workshops like The EmpowerMentorship Institute, and the Men With Integrity bystander intervention program for universities and fraternities to prevent sexual assault on campus. Learn more about Dale's work at HealthyMasculinities.org.

Comments

  1. Michael Hale says:

    Thank you for the work done in the writing of this article. Just by putting your experience in a men’s group out into the world, the potential exists for another man to step into what may be a foreign and uncomfortable stretch; finding a circle of men. In my Durango, Colorado community of men, there are a total of eight circles and approximately 100(?) men actively sitting. Our greater community feels the reverberations of this and I am made aware through these men’s partners, friends, and families. In my judgement, these men’s groups are some of the most important work we can endeavor towards, as the healing of our woundings and the connection with other men as they are doing the same is so very integral in creating the greater health. Thanks again for your insights.

  2. Dale, great article. My men’s group has been meeting regularly since 1979. We started out in the San Francisco Bay area and met weekly for years. Now we are more dispersed and have kept our commitment to be in the group throughout our lives. So we have to fly to keep our group together (one guy lives in Seattle…damn you Tony for beating up on our 49ers). But once you’ve been with a group of guys who have gone deep, deep, deep with each other, you don’t want to lose it. We’ve been through births, deaths, marriages and breakups, and now issues around aging and the pains and dis-eases, as well as the joys and comfort, that go with adding years to our lives.

    Being here on the Good Men Project reminds me of all the good men in the world and our group of these particular good group of 8 guys who have been with me for 35 years and will be with me until my time in this earth has ended and I’m ready for whatever comes next. I look forward to hearing more about the men and men’s groups that are connected here.

  3. Steven McDade says:

    Having been bullied as a kid, I learned to distrust other boys. I’m still searching for a few good men that I could form bonds with.

  4. Thank you for the comments Michael, Jed, and Steven!

    Steven, It’s a tough search; but there are good men and good groups that can help you a lot. If you’re in LA, check us out at NextGent.com… you’ d be very welcome.

  5. Great article! So important…! My hubby is currently on a “man weekend” with his old roommate from grad school and his cousin…they are doing “man stuff” on a remote mountain (fishing? ATVs, beer, etc.)….

  6. Thanks Dale! Fantastic article!

    Living in a foreign country where many of the lessons you communicate are even more foreign to the natives than what you experienced in the US, I can tell you that even on-line groups of men to call you on your BS are a big help.

    Having recently gone through a divorce, in part because I didn’t accept her challenge, I am looking more and more to find these male connections but perhaps it is time to develop a group for the 1/1 thing just does not work when you are an outsider in this culture, even though I have been here almost 10 years.

    Worth giving a shot in any case!

  7. Thank you for this powerful list. I aim to print it out and use it for an on-going altered book project in order to anchor some of your words in my soul and practice.

    Also, I’ve been facilitating a men’s circle for about 20 months now and I’m dealing with my own frustration and impatience. I want be part of a group that is ready to go deep but we seem to be stuck in our heads and in our story a lot. Any advice or support from you, Dale, or you men in this comments section? I’m very open to advice about how to turn my feelings around and/or use them to spur change. Thanks.

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