For more than a year now, I’ve been working on a new book with my friend John Gray. I’ve known John for more than 35 years (gulp!), and we’ve been in a men’s group together for the last several years. And that is exactly what our book is about: what it means to be a conscious man today.
It’s hard to keep this in perspective, but only 100 years ago women were not allowed to vote. It seems unimaginable now, but there was a shared belief, just a century ago, that women lacked the intelligence to be able to make rational political decisions. We’ve come a long way. Emmeline Pankhurst and the other suffragettes claimed women’s right to vote, about 100 years ago, and since then we’ve seen several subsequent phases in the movement towards women claiming their full self-expression, all over the world. Although there is still much progress remaining to be made, for both men and women, to being free to fully express themselves in a multidimensional way, we live in a radically different world than just a few generations ago.
So what about men? Just as women have claimed a radically transformed role in the world, so men also find themselves in a transformed role as well. The book I’ve been writing with John Gray is titled “Conscious Men.” It explores what it means for a man to express his masculinity consciously, as opposed to automatically: based upon various kinds of conditioning. What are the keys to a man showing up in the world in a way that is deliberate, something like a work of art?
John and I have discovered that we can reliably find the answer to this question in two ways. The first is by asking men about when they feel most themselves: most empowered, most alive, most secure in who they are. But there’s another interesting way to also discover the keys to Conscious Masculinity: which is to ask women which qualities they find most attractive in a man. Generally speaking, when a man is most stably resting in his authentic self, a woman experiences him as an attractive man.
We have discovered 12 qualities which emerge, again and again, as keys to conscious masculinity. Our book will be out this summer, and you will be able to discover what these 12 qualities are for yourself, and how to develop them in yourself, or how to bring them forth in a man. I want to give you a little preview today by talking about the one quality that emerged, again and again, as the most important key in defining conscious masculinity.
Before you read on, what would you imagine it might be? Bulging pecs? Drives a Lamborghini? An overflowing bank account? You may think I’m being frivolous, but these are actually the kind of symbols which popular culture has associated with masculinity.
By asking hundreds of men what they feel to be the most important key to being fully comfortable in their own skin, and by asking hundreds of women about what makes a man most trustworthy and attractive, the same quality emerged to the top of the list over and over again: his sense of mission and purpose.
Now let me slip in a quick clarification here, because these topics around gender can easily get so charged. This is not to say that women don’t also have a sense of mission and purpose. They do. Jane Goodall, Lynn twist, Barbara Marx Hubbard, these are just a few examples of women who have dedicated their lives to serving the evolution of humanity. The difference is, for men, that often this sense of mission and purpose is key to his sense of well-being, and to his sense of who he is. If he goes “off purpose” he can become depressed and disoriented. This is tied to the fact that men have 30 times more testosterone in their blood than women do, and so stress is neutralized and balance restored through a feeling of external accomplishment. For a woman, because of different hormones running in the body, she may have a strong sense of mission and purpose, but her sense of wellbeing and core identity is more tied to the love she feels in her heart and expresses in relation to others.
You may have noticed that many people talk today, in books, in blogs and tele-seminars about this sense of purpose. Discovering and developing a sense of purpose is emerging as a science all to itself, and is being recognized not as a luxury for an elite few, but an essential birthright.
One of the greatest authorities in the world on this subject is Chris Kyle, Executive Director of the Mankind Project. MKP has guided more than 50,000 men through a weekend initiation: the New Warrior Intensive, exploring conscious masculinity.
Chris defines a sense of purpose as “the act of giving my authentic self and my gifts and talents to the world in service to something bigger than myself.” This is actually a very brilliant and condensed definition. In his work exploring this, primarily with men, he recognizes that each and every person has a unique expression: something to give into the world which is different than anyone else alive, or anyone else who was ever lived. The expression of that unique gift, says Chris, is a combination of natural abilities, learned skills, and a kind of natural effortless expression that is something more like play.
In researching our book on Conscious Men, there was no one else who could really taken this exploration of mission and purpose into such a well-developed and systematic science as Chris Kyle, and his co-author Brandon Peele.
They have created a “Purpose Activation Blueprint,” and in a moment I will explain how you can have your own copy, as a gift. It’s well worth the read, both for men and women.
The blueprint identifies four essential elements to activating purpose. These are:
1 – Create a mission statement, possibly in collaboration with people who know you well, of what you have to contribute to the world. Chris recommends to look into the world and to see how it could be greater, or more beautiful, through what you have to give. The activation blueprint defines a specific process for creating an accurate mission statement.
2 – Develop a sense of team around you. Chris explained to us that this can be the most difficult step, particularly for a man, as there is a strong conditioning in men to think we have to do things by ourselves, that it is weak to ask for help. But Chris points out, very accurately, that human beings always thrive more when they collaborate. He recommends to look for four or five people in your world, who can act as your counsel of support. He recommends not to invite family members or your intimate partner, because they usually have too much investment and how things should look.
3 – Connect your sense of purpose to serving others. This is where your sense of mission and purpose grows legs and becomes activated. The activation blueprint suggests that you identify causes, or unresolved problems states in the world that move you towards action. It is important to find areas of need which particularly fit your gifts and your mission statement.
4 – Put it into action. This is actually where many people get hung up. They try to look for the “perfect project,” and this concern with getting it just right actually cramps the ability to take action. This is where the principle of “imperfect action” becomes relevant. It is better to put energy into anything for 60 to 90 days than to sit around preparing yourself for the perfect project that may never come to fruition.
This is a really vitally important topic, particularly for men.It’s worth spending a little time to explore what Chris and Brandon have put together. Here’s what I’d like to suggest that you do next:
Join me and Chris live for a video conference, where you can ask questions and get clearer about this topic. The live event will be next Wednesday, April 29, at 11:30am Pacific time. I’d love to send you a reminder closer to the time, so type your name and email here, if you’d like to attend, I’ll jog your memory a few days before.
When you register for the event, you will be directed to a page where you can download the “Purpose Activation Blueprint” as a gift, to prepare for the call.
I’ve discovered that any kind of conversation about gender has the capacity to be extraordinarily inspiring and liberating, and can also be extremely controversial. It’s an exciting time to be alive!