What is a Man? – The Story of John
I know a man, I’ll call him John, who had a great influence on my life at a point where I was in need of help. It was a point when I needed to answer the question, What am I, as a man?, and was not able to. My marriage had failed, as had my business. I was low in self-esteem and didn’t know how to move on. John ran a coaching business, with his wife, that focused on relationships. I felt I needed to understand women better and went to stay with John and take part in one of the events he ran with his wife.
They taught about relationships from a fairly rigid view of ‘masculine’ men and ‘feminine’ woman. That view was a great help to me and started me along the road leading to ‘Graham Reid Phoenix’. It provided focuses to my views on men and masculinity. These views have moved on to the more flexible approach I now have but started with John’s teaching.
John’s business and his relationship were intertwined. he and his wife sold their relationship as the ideal and their business model was based on their view of relationships, he was the hunter/provider and she was the carer/nurturer.
In the intervening years their business failed and their brand seemed to fail with it. They came to a crisis in their relationship, which they have survived, but which puts their message into question. This crisis put their relationship into question as well, such is the result of mixing the two.
John has put the business and the relationship coaching behind him and moved on to more spiritual matters. He has framed this as a realisation of what his true vision and purpose is, the thing that he must follow and spend his life on.
So where does this leave us men who listened to him and believed his message that to be a man you need to have a vision, be on purpose and be a rock weathering storms that swirl around you. The men who believed that his vision, his life, his relationship was a model that we should follow. I don’t know the answer but what I read into the story is that his life over the past few year has not been his vision, does that mean he doesn’t believe in what he spoke about, about men?
The lesson for me is that being a man and being in a relationship are two different things. Clearly the relationship can, and often does, result from being a man, but they are still separate.
To be a man is to be clear, as a male, about who you are, what your life is about and where your vision lies. Being in a relationship is about how you are with your partner and how you build your life together. To confuse the two is to challenge your ability to be a man if your relationship falters.
Your relationship is bound to falter if you base your business on it. If the business fails, for whatever reason, it can put your relationship at risk which, in turn, can put your view of yourself as a man at risk.
So how can it work? What do I do?
My business is about me as a man and refers to my relationship and my view of myself as a man. Therein lies the difference. I start with my view of myself as a man and from that I write for men and I have a relationship. In my writing I refer to my relationship, but only as an aspect of my masculinity.
What does that mean for you, the reader?
Being a man starts with yourself and your view of yourself. From that you can build your vision, your relationship, your business. They can rise and fall. They can shift and change. Your masculinity remains and informs the other parts of your life but does not depend on those other parts.
Whatever happens you remain strong in yourself, you remain a rock, you remain a man. You are not a hunter/gatherer or a visionary, you are simply a man. That, for me, is something to be proud of.