James Anthony Ellis
Editor, Legacy Magazine
It was in May 2010 when MDI member Allan Bartlett apparently had to choose between attending his son’s high school graduation or complete his Sterling Men’s Weekend Production commitment.
The June graduation was Monday at 7 p.m. The strike production ended on that same Monday at 6 p.m. The site of the graduation was in Portland, Maine. The Weekend was in Newburgh, New York, a mere 5-hour car drive. With his unalterable commitment to complete the strike production job, he was wracking his brain to see what he could do to solve this dilemma, but nothing was working out.
And so he decided to take the next inevitable step: he asked for help.
Just when it appeared that it would be impossible to make both desires a reality, just as the barriers seemed insurmountable, a man on Bartlett’s men’s team – Stan Snow – stepped up at a team meeting with the magic statement.
“I know a guy with a plane.”
That was the ticket.
Answer present. Problem becomes no problem. Barriers dissolved.
Pilot Phil Bussiere flew from Portland to the airport in Newburgh where Bartlett, Snow and four others were waiting. The pilot flew them back to the Portland airport where another man on the men’s team was waiting to drive Bartlett to a local park and ride where he could get in his truck and head over to the Gray-New Gloucester High School’s Merrill Auditorium. In time.
Said Bartlett, presently the PTM of the Sterling Weekends, “The fastest I’ve driven that distance is four hours, and that is when I was really speeding. Once I heard the time of the graduation, I was asking myself, ‘How am I going to do this?’ It was beyond me. I could not figure it out on my own. I had exhausted everything I could think of, except for getting help from my men.”
At the next team meeting, the men inspected all possibilities:
- Did you check the airlines’ schedules? Flights were the next day.
- Can you leave the Weekend early? No.
- Can you show up for the graduation late? That wouldn’t work.
- Can you parachute onto the high school grounds? Uhhhh, funny, no.
Once the “friend’s plane” idea came up, the action plan was set. For $300 and some fuel, the other passengers could be available to split the costs. The strike team was enrolled to speed it up and be complete an hour early, by 5 p.m. A change of clothes would be prepared before the flight.
Of the challenging endeavor of asking for help, Bartlett says he figured 12 heads were better than one. As always.
Said Bartlett, “Since that experience, whenever I meet a man having a challenge requesting help from others, I ask them if they ever helped another man and how did that feel for them being of service like that? And then I ask, ‘Why would you ever prevent someone from feeling that way?'”
Of the concept of “barriers” men must face, Bartlett has two main thoughts:
- Barriers may be bigger than you are, but it’s rare to have a barrier bigger than an entire men’s team.
- Our job in supporting others is to not buy into other men’s barriers. Our job is to hold the line and have them step into their solutions. We don’t presume that their barrier is justified. It might just be a really good excuse, and if you buy into their barrier with them, you are not serving the man.
These nuggets of wisdom came into play as Bartlett made sure to keep his word around a son’s graduation and a commitment to a Men’s Weekend.
“It’s one of those seminal moments you remember your entire life,” he said.
Of the experience, Snow said, “It made me acutely aware that there are always other possibilities, and one of the best ways to discover them is from the collective wisdom of the men.”