Positive changes can start anywhere and are cumulative. At times, change seems to move like a glacier and at others, it happens in the blink of an eye.
A little over 30 years ago, I was finishing up high school. I wish I knew then what I know now.
There was no commonly used language to describe introverts back then. So other labels applied to people in my situation like shy, brainiac, or lacking confidence.
It wasn’t as if I was entirely solely on intellectual pursuits. I was in the high school band, took shop classes, played sports and even had my own fixer-upper sailboat.
Growing up and into early adulthood, I remember that all the advice was to become like the other outgoing and socially active men; the men I would later learn are extroverted and not shy. Further complicating understanding, some of my fellow students were the classic bullies. Back then you didn’t ask for help either.
Some of it wasn’t bad advice.
Shyness and introversion are two different things and getting to the point where I can now speak or perform in front of a crowd has helped me. So much so that I now head up a business consulting and software company and teach workshops to entrepreneurs.
But back then, I didn’t know why I didn’t fit the mold.
That is why I was very pleasantly surprised to see this article in the Okotoks Western Wheel titled “School strives to change sexist way of thinking.” with the subtitle “Black Diamond: Parents invited to take different perspective on masculinity” by Tammy Rollie. (The publication serves the Foothills district of Alberta and has both rural and suburban readers.)
This message is one of the big parts of The Good Men Project’s mission and the resulting “The conversation no one else is having.” It is one of the reasons I chose to write for the publication. I want not only help businesses thrive and grow, but do so in a way that is congruent with the people in them, and encourages creating great workplaces.
Central to the article is challenging the stereotypes about masculinity, and the toxic effects those stereotypes have on not only men but the cascading effects on society itself.
Making A Difference
The local environment of oilfields, ranchers and cowboys tends to reinforce the tough man stereotypes with which we are all familiar.
But people like Paulette Morck (a guidance counselor at Oilfields High School) have this to say:
“When you’re saying to a sensitive boy, ‘be a man’ you are telling him the way he is isn’t right, that it’s not acceptable,” said Morck. “That can be quite damaging.”
They are running a film called The Mask You Live In and have a few special guests for post film panel including a police officer and teacher Conor Hart.
Conor Hart comes from a well-known family of professional wrestlers. The fact that his father encouraged him to be himself speaks powerfully to the potential of letting children follow their own paths.
“One of the reasons I went into teaching is everybody is not lucky enough to have parents like my dad was… You can usually recognize just through conversations that this person is someone who needs to talk or needs that positive mentorship.”
Sexism can apply equally to men. Often we do it to ourselves.
Whether you run a rough and tumble business or a more white-collar enterprise, it is essential that we not only encourage diversity; but discourage those who would destroy it.
Intolerance crushes your ability to innovate.
Diversity, when encouraged the right way in a business, leads to better decisions, innovation, and a culture that can survive the tough times more effectively.
You can read the article in its entirety in the online version of the Western Wheel.
Photo Credit (modified): Pixabay
Additional Photo Credit: Picture of the article in the Okotoks Western Wheel taken by the author.