A Foundation for Masculinity

Erfan Ahmadi
Atlas, Team “To Cause Greatness”

Editor’s Note: Erfan Ahmadi, 32, is originally from New York City and has lived in Chicago, California, and currently Arizona. He is happily married with 2 dogs (a doberman and a chihuahua/terrier mix) and a child on the way. With a background in engineering, and software, working in various well-known companies, his present interests are doing men’s work, studying high performance attributes, reading books, spending a ton of time in nature, and being with his family, including his parents and his wife Aleshia. He has excelled in his time in the Atlas division, participating as The Warrior in the Legacy Discovery (LD) event in October 2022, and enrolling 12 men into it. We hear about it here in this interview.

“The Warrior” in the center first row with dark shirt and beard.

How would you describe Atlas to another person?

Before I would describe Atlas, I would have to set the tone on how I describe Mentor Discover Inspire (MDI). 

MDI is a non-profit organization that focuses on men’s work. In other countries like Asia, South America, and other parts of the world, there is a certain age that a boy becomes a man. In some countries, this is 15; in others, this is 18. For us Americans, we do not have such a tradition. So in my opinion there are a lot of lost and confused “boys” out there, who have never navigated how to become a man.

MDI focuses on establishing a foundation for masculinity and masculine relationships. MDI has formulated the structure so men can understand each other, and express themselves in the most authentic manner possible. MDI creates the container that allows men to be a foundational support system for one another. The men of MDI support each other by providing the “collective wisdom of the men” so men can access masculine support through wins and losses of life. This can be as simple as sharing a struggle in life such as an argument with a partner or a child, and as big as sharing a massive win such as getting married or finding a dream job. 

Now, onto describing Atlas. In MDI, there are sub-divisions and teams that allows men to divide into smaller sub-sets. This allows them to get more intimate and closer to one another. I have had the pleasure to be both on an in-person team, which was in San Francisco called “Wolfpack,” and on an online men’s team called “TCG (To Cause Greatness).” 

Atlas is the online path for masculine relationships through MDI. Atlas is an incredibly powerful team of men that are beyond committed to each other’s success. Strong men such as Dylan Stewart and Toby Fisher. These men mean the world to me as they have, time after time, shown how committed they are to each man’s success. They hold men’s feet to the fire when they are being, as I called them, “slippery fishes.” And they lift men up, when they are down in the gutter. Atlas is a container designed and driven by each and every man who truly brings in his best. 

What does it mean personally for you to be a part of Atlas?

When I was leaving the Bay Area to move to Arizona for an employment opportunity, I was worried that I would not be able to have my men’s team with me, and that I would lose access to MDI. When a man told me about Atlas, my eyes lit up and I was incredibly happy to know that I would not lose my community of men. 

Erfan and Aleshia.

I will say my joining of Atlas was rough. I really loved being a part of an in-person team. The bonfires, the ability to be fully present, and the masculine energy of an in-person team – these are all hard to trade in for a screen on a laptop. Buuuuuut, somehow, and some way, the Atlas team makes it up by being a very strong, determined, and dedicated team. 

Atlas division means a lot to me. These men have watched me grow into a man that I am today. Since I have joined, I have gotten married, bought a house, and I am now a director at my current company. They created a space where I was able to find my wounds, pull out the arrows, and heal my past. They were able to support me in ways I didn’t know I needed. Atlas is the container in which any man, if willing and determined, can really achieve anything. These men are truly devoted to each man’s success. Even when the man himself is going against his own self-interest, these men are the mirror in your face to help you see your blind sides. 

What value do you receive there, and what value do you bring there?

In a short sentence, what I receive there is the collective wisdom of the men. This is masculinity in its rawest, most passionate forms. I receive advice when I need to hear it, and support when I am isolating. They are truly the mirror in my face and call me wrong when I am wrong, and provide me with confidence when I am on the right path. 

The value I bring to the team is much the same. I like to consider myself a high performer and a driven individual. When I see a man self sabotaging, I tend to put his feet to the fire and call him out.

I believe in MDI and what we do. I channel much of my dedication towards MDI through Atlas. The latest and most impactful thing I brought to the men of Atlas was the Western Region’s LD. I was able to enroll seven men from Atlas to go to Legacy Discovery for a total of 12 enrollments. I was able to truly dive deep into their strengths and weaknesses.

I believe in Legacy Discovery, I believe in MDI, and I truly believe in men’s work. This is all being channeled through my strengths via Atlas. I share techniques, wisdom, and bring accountability to our men. Occasionally, I throw a few “Dad Jokes” in there as well. Practicing for the real run when I am a dad!

How do you think you were able to enroll 12 men into the Legacy Discovery? What was the key?

There is a lot to unpack in the answers to this question. But I will try to be succinct here. For me, there are three pieces that really drove me to enroll so many men into the LD. 

The first part is, I truly believe in the work we do in MDI, and if you were to be able to compact that work into a 48-hour weekend, it is the LD. Lots of men in our society do not have a formulated, structured way of expressing authentic masculinity. The LD is the intro into men’s work, and it is incredibly powerful, meaningful, and organic. For me, the LD was like 31 years of therapy (I attended the LD when I was 31 years old). I got so much from being surrounded by masculine energy, watching the men drop their masks, and be themselves in all types of ways. They were able to expose themselves, pull out arrows from one another’s back, expose their fears, weaknesses, and vices.

From that experience, they are able to make peace with their past, recognize it does not define them, and create a new formulated identity for who they want to be. And that, in its simplest form, is what I believe our society needs. I was able to do this, and I believe every man deserves this opportunity. 

The second part is what I had stated previously. We, in America, do not have an official celebration of when a “boy” has become a man. I believe this occurs once men have the ability to come together, recognize they are not alone, and that we all have shadows that hold us back. Upon exposure, revealing, and learning that they are not lone wolves, they can then come together and create a space for one another to support each other in their life journey. This is when boys become men. It is the initiation of when we leave the boy-like “I can do anything by myself” mentality, and lean into “let’s help each other, as a community, and go through this life journey.” It allows us to realize we are not alone on this earth, and we are a community. The key word in community is UNITY. 

Lastly, I believe the reason why I was able to get so many men to the LD is because of what I had gotten from the LD. The LD allowed me to hone in my purpose and direction in life. This clarity and direction allowed me to be my authentic masculine self. The men I exposed myself to, saw my transformation and character. This also built trust. They trust me, and for that reason, they believed in my word of how important and meaningful the LD was for me, and that they too would be able to get the same value from it.

They believed, and trusted me, and ultimately, I was able to pass on the value that I got to other men. 

2 thoughts on “A Foundation for Masculinity”

  1. I love being in a circle with you Ahmadi. The work you do is real and important, and I am grateful for the example of the man that you are and strive to be.

  2. Ahmadiii! You’re a beast! Loved being on a point team with you (Noodle Doodle 4 lyyfe). We got to know and authentically see eachother at a vulnerable and empathic level. Love you brother. Btw, this is a well-written article on the generational importance of boys-becoming-men rites of passages and MDI filling in that gap for this generation. Super important for our society since “a greater society begins with greater men,” (Talley, OCB) Keep inspiring more males to become men, ya frickin’ jerk :D

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