HeyMan: Mentorship for Men

Hey Man … are you still trying to figure out who you are, and what you’re doing here?  Do the traditional markers of male success leave you feeling not good enough, hungry, and wanting?  Do you wake in the middle of the night with a deep ache in your chest?

Welcome to the inner life of ‘middle age’ men … late 20’s, 30’s, early 40’s.  There is nothing wrong with you, man, it’s just that no one has ever talked to you about these feelings or this angst. Most of us grow up in this ManBox, full of shit and false promises. It is a culture that has abandoned and betrayed men, and it has been doing this forever. I came of age in the 60’s, and me and my radical brothers were the first to name this crime. Indeed, it IS a crime, for it has ripped out the hearts and souls of men for way too long.

The Ancients mentored their boys, us post-moderns do not even know what mentoring is. The late Jungian analyst and men’s archetypal topographer Robert Moore, says that an older man’s primary responsibility is to see and admire young men. Hard to do in a culture of competition. Last week, Rep. Eric Stalwell invited Joe Biden to ‘pass the torch’ … Biden refused. It’s usually true that young men want it too soon, and old men hold on too late. Competition reigns supreme among us.

Mentorship is the conscious passing down and sharing of knowledge, experience, and wisdom.  It is typically an oral transmission, done primarily through coaching, counseling, and spiritual & soul teaching. The initiative must come from the mentor, who openly declares his willingness, availability, and skill to serve. He will typically encounter resistance from the younger man, for men just don’t trust each other very much.

How a man benefits from mentorship: conscious guidance through the rites of passage, insight into the places of shadow within, skill to work through his primal issues that keep him stuck in old behaviors and beliefs, and support to consciously clarify and define direction and spiritual path.  Especially for a man who has come of age in a competitive workplace, a good mentor aids a man to develop emotional literacy & relationship skills, strengthens his leadership & conscious decision making abilities, and encourages him to live from his love, truth, & inner alignment.

In many of the cutting edge corporate cultures, there is the growing awareness that cooperation is a higher order function than competition.  Here the focus shifts from product to process, from bottom line valuation to values-based practices, like emotional literacy and communication, integrity, and accountability.  Where quality is more important than quantity, and human relationships are seen as the organization’s strongest and most important resource.  A mentoring program is the pathway for this transmission.  It places value on supporting a man to find his path, to live his life with a spiritual direction & purpose, and to become the conscious leader that is so desperately needed in this transformational time.

Placing value on relationships is an evolutionary step in an organization’s development.  Information is shared, collaboration is encouraged, creative experimentation … which includes successes & failures … is welcomed.  These days, women seem to thrive in this new environment, whereas men still operate from the old genetic patriarchal conditioning.  As competition gives way to cooperation, the value of mentoring increases the lines of communication throughout the organizational culture, in all directions.  And everyone benefits.

In the profound absence of male initiatory rites of passage, a younger man does so without the deeply personal witnessing and reflection of who he is.  This “seeing” is a transmission of the sacred emotional and spiritual material consciously passed along the male lineage.  Without this, the masculine soul atrophies.  Mentoring a man feeds his soul, connects him to something deep and precious inside him, allowing his sense of his own worth develop and grow.  For a man to find his path and spiritual direction, he first has to find himself … to know who he is, what he is, and how he serves.  

Many of us have grown up either without fathers or with emotionally absent fathers who could not give us the attention that we deeply and secretly yearned for.  Every young boy or young man needs the clear and loving reflection of an older man, one who sees him, not only for who he is, but for who he might become.  There is a kind of non-verbal ‘energy food’ that gets transmitted from father to son, a passing on of the essence of masculinity.  Men who have not been adequately fathered seek mentorship from an older man.  And often times, they do not even know it.  

In this men’s work, there is a high tolerance for imperfection, a low tolerance for bullshit.  If you are a man in need of being seen and blessed and mentored by an older man for exactly who you are, find that man. Be willing to open to the possibility of a deep male friendship. You have so little to lose, and so much to gain.

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