My Wins are Your Wins

Michael Burns
MDI Contributor

Michael Burns (Burnsie) of Santa Cruz first did his “Men’s Weekend” in 1986 in New York City when it was called “Men, Sex and Power.” In his time, he held numerous positions in the Bushido Division in New York and the Legacy Division in the Bay Area, along with doing seven Sterling Weekend productions, working on with Young Men’s Weekends and volunteering in the organization Boys To Men.

Burns – a teacher and mentor.

It does my heart good to witness the gold of our men’s work in action as we utilize the freedom to be vulnerable in a safe place.

In 1986 I committed to myself to engage in process of discovering and dissolving the psychological and emotional barriers I had accumulated over the years. These barriers stood in the way of me being the man, hero, leader, and mentor I had the potential to be.

Year after year, meeting after meeting, event after event, with consistent willingness to be vulnerable, to make mistakes, to lead, to learn and grow, to be challenged to stretch, and to risk being a fool, rejected, wrong, butt-hurt, I have discovered my barriers and my weak spots, and have chosen not to be controlled by them. Even if I feel self-conscious, shy, unprepared, anxious, I go for it anyway.

Vulnerability has also served me well as a substitute teacher over the last eight years. I always have performance anxiety, always nervous before facing an unknown group of kids, I put on a “game face” going to battle. My intent is to quickly gain their trust, respect and, wherever the lesson plans allow, get their interest in what I am inspired to sharer with them. Each year I am increasingly more successful getting my intended results.

Watching the men be vulnerable in the sacred circle was another affirmation that a men’s circle dedicated to their standards is the place to be.

Heartfelt Attaboys to my homies of MDI.

The relationship between me and you has given me the support, encouragement, push, and unconditional POSITIVE feedback long enough for me to get it and believe that I am worthy. DON’T QUIT being vulnerable; practice, practice, practice seeing the wins, whatever size, however often. 

I have regularly gotten positive feedback from various kids who appreciated being respected by an adult male. They can tell that I am honest, sincere, caring, and confident with who I AM. I had a peak experience subbing the other day when I received sincere appreciation, agreement, and recognition from men in SCHOOL ADMINISTRATION.

The Assistant Principal and the Occupation Program Director of Harbor High both were participating in a class that I was assigned to cover. They saw and heard some of what I deliver to students in the way of life lessons, the importance of being a good human being, and the value of passion. These are skills I have gathered from the support I have received from the men. All these skills I have nurtured by being vulnerable and coachable.

I am achieving and experiencing the intended result I wanted from discovering and dissolving my barriers; that result is being the man I want to be.

Having said all this, I want to emphasize to all the men that my wins here are your wins. I have observed that it is very hard for me and others to truly accept accolades for being worthy and doing worthy actions. Hence the tradition of atta boys to remind us that we are worthy.

My maturation, growth, and evolution is significantly enhanced by the support of the men.

I invite you to spend time looking at seeing how you could say the same thing.

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