Men mentoring men thru the passages of their lives.
Mathew, thank you for writing from your heart and your personal action in this area. I also am questioning "what holds us back". I am trying to get BTM launched here in AB and I have had a difficult time in getting men to participate. I have thought at times that maybe I just did not pitch it to them in a way that would motivate them. I have also thought that men were too busy to help with this ... but wondered, how could men (especially ManKind Project men) not find the time to mentor young men. This summer was busy with a number of personal/family things that delayed the launch of BTM-AB. My intention is to get the launch of BTM-AB happening next year. I need a core group of about 6 Edmonton men to make this happen. Are there any ManKind Project AB men that feel the energy to mentor and to build BTM-AB?
My perception of how much time I have to do what I need to do has always conflicted with my perception of how much time I have to look after myself emotionally and spiritually. I have heard, and I have said to others, that I am too busy doing X Y or Z to actually learn how to do X Y or Z. Sometimes I have said that with pride (look how clever I am, I figured this stuff out without reading the manual....). Sometimes I have said that out of desperation (I have no time to learn or teach, I am tooooooo busy!)
Thanks for your honesty. I aggree we are all learning balance. My judgement is we need to show up where our passion and gifts take us.
Thanks for this thought-provoking post. Mentorship is a difficult area for many men, for varying reasons. I've been fortunate to have some great mentors in my life, and in my I-group. Some were MKP members, others were not. In your comments you said you've "felt like asking men to mentor me in several things; finances, tieing flies, fishing, and emotional intelligence".
Mentoring In the context of MKP is a deeper, more personal relationship. The following definitions come up in google:
# Mentorship refers to a personal developmental relationship in which a more experienced or more knowledgeable person helps a less experienced or less knowledgeable person
# mentor - serve as a teacher or trusted counselor
# mentor - a wise and trusted guide and advisor
Of these definitions I think the last, a wise and trusted guide and advisor, is the most appropriate in the context of MKP. The sharing of knowledge like fly-tying and fishing is more of a teaching relationship. It's the learning of a specific skill. There are many avenues for this type of learning - reading, classes, the internet, practice and so on.
When we speak of mentoring in MKP it's in the deeper context of a trusted guide, someone to talk with about feelings and thoughts, struggles and challenges. Mentorship is actually a pretty advanced 'skill' for lack of a better word. A good mentor must above all listen. A mentor needs to really hear what their student needs and wants, and provide guidance in the form most valuable to the student. Going back to the definition above, the mentor requires a high level of wisdom, and must be someone you deeply trust, which means they have a lot of integrity too. So a man can't really just go be a mentor, rather, a man becomes a mentor by practicing and living the other values of respect, integrity and accountability. If you reflect on that I think you'll see that not every man has the wisdom and self-knowledge to be a good mentor. In fact, you may find there aren't that many that you want as a mentor.
Your I-group can be a great source of mentorship, because the collective wisdom, and collective integrity of the group is (hopefully) far greater than that of any individual in the group. And every member of the group grows toward mentorship in the process.
Blessings on your journey brother,
What holds us back? Regardless of the formation of new, noble intentions,
men that show-up [and don't show-up] are direct reflections of the outside
culture. I heard all of the mentoring rubric around the Lodge. But, the real
truth seemed to be - It is unreasonable to expect men coming from the
outside culture to suddenly change in behaviors for a day or a Weekend
to authentically adopt the values being espoused in such noble efforts.
I got sick of hearing it all staffing the Lodge as an elder - Respect for this
that and the other thing, to include each other, to then have to constantly
deal with all of the "Western Special Boy crap" acting itself out around the
fire and inside the Lodge. Words are great! men love noble WORDS! For me,
the outside culture will dictate, in general, a man's behavior [and values]
and then men show-up acting-out those ingrained behaviors and values.
They just are not going to be changed by a few scant exposures to groups
or organizations expecting/requiring different noble values and behaviors.
We live in a youth culture where older men are discounted by the young.
As I got older in my own community, I gradually experienced getting
cut-out and discounted by younger men. Was it because I was an ass hole?
Older men can tell the difference. A lot of the "respect for elders and needs
for the wisdom of elder mentoring" basically becomes nice-nice rhetorical
horse shit, in reality.
If your need to mentor is greater than another persons need for it, it's
dysfunctional. Besides, just because a man is older doesn't he's wise.
I've met some 30-35 year old men that I see as wise elders. There
are other much older men promoting themselves as elders that are
so dumb and ignorant, I wouldn't trust them to even walk my dog...
Key to mentoring I sense some folks miss is the "agreement" between both. Everything we get in life, we get from others through some form of agreement or "contract." This requires those desiring mentoring, when they target a potential mentor to make one of any forms of contract or agreement. A wise mentor will most always form an agreement of sorts that fit his style. IMJ, many men have not been schooled in, nor are too skilled within their lives in how they construct and then manage their agreements with others.
MKP cultures I've been exposed to tends to hit the high notes here by just slotting contracts & agreements into the area of integrity and accountability, which is fine, great, not a problem. Even asking a question contains a tacit form of contract between two men. But, unless the question is asked first, there is no relationship to build any agreement upon. Nothing is more dysfunctional IMJ than providing teachings to a man who didn't ask for it. [Like I'm doing here?]
This contract relationship leading to possible agreement is best understood as seen in the behaviors of seasoned Lodge men if one gets quiet enough to watch carefully and then learn in that cultural tradition. It is as intentional as it is so very often misunderstood. Men who are willing to mentor, if asked, have different styles. Some men teach, other mentors guide learning while other mentors demonstrate knowledge within their silent actions. When the rookie is ready, a mentor may invite the rookie to learn in the experiential. Here, a mentor may refuse a question in the knowledge that the rookie is not ready to go there yet, so the rookie is encouraged to look mastering more fundamentals first. It is within the contract, or agreement that the mentor frames the venue, not the mentee.
20 years of dancing in the Lodge space has seen many men come and then leave in frustration, declaring the Lodge men unwilling to "teach them" about what appears to many men as the "mysteries." These rookie men never "got it." The mentor culture there is watch, learn, watch, learn and eventually ASK a question based on watchful learning BEFORE fielding a well thought-out, meaningful question. So cultures, guidance toward learning methods mixed with the different styles mentors bring, first requires a clear understanding between both. Thus the "agreement" is formed.
It is my truth that there are really no intentional mysteries placed in Lodge spaces I've worked, but all too often, just a lot of loud, noisy men who show-up and then won't shut-up long enough to observe, observe, observe and learn as the culture dictates. Is there magic in the space? Oh yea! But so many men miss the magic because they won't shut-up long enough to let the magic in. Many men want to be [what they mistake as the rock star] the water pourer, but few want to clean-up the ashes or work until dawn to quietly assure that what needs tending gets done in a good way.
Wise elder mentors can be everywhere for some men. Other men? Not an elder mentor in-sight for them because most mentors, IMJ, quietly ignore the Western cultured arrogant young pricks who still have yet to master the fundamental basics of authentic respect. For them? Stay ignorant. Who cares, really?