POINT – MDI a Circle for All Men
By Mitch Jackman – Regional XO, Western Region – Legacy Men’s Division
I respect the position held by many men that in order to participate in the MDI a man MUST always be on a weekly men’s team. I wholeheartedly disagree. I am living proof that men can not only survive without a weekly men’s team, they can thrive and remain a productive brother of our circles for many years. I have done it. I limit my remarks to experienced men that have been on a weekly men’s team for several years. New men really need the experience of and exposure to a men’s team before they can alter their participation.
It is true that one of the greatest gifts we can offer other men is the power of a men’s team as we define it. There is no doubt about that in my humble opinion. But a very wise leader in the MDI once suggested that the concept that a men’s team meeting must be exactly three hours each week is absolutely ludicrous. The same rationale applies to demanding that every man be on a weekly men’s team or get out. There is no single magic formula for success for every man. How can we achieve being the man that we always wanted to be if we are only the man that other men want us to be?
After a 4-year leave from the MDI, I rejoined my division as a member at large in 2008 with my DC’s approval. I instantly committed to leadership roles in the division and eventually took the position of Regional Growth and Enrollment Manager for the Western Region. The whole time, I was not participating on a weekly men’s team. But I made firm commitments, I stayed in relationship with many men across the region, and I found my place in a circle of men where I could make a difference. That is perhaps the single most important element that we overlook in this organization: finding a place for every man to bring his gifts and talents where he can have a real influence in other people’s lives.
I actually participated on three men’s teams, my division, a regional team and an international team. My question was, “How many teams do I have to be on before I satisfy other men that I was committed and accountable?” I eventually rejoined a weekly men’s team after four more years, not from the pressure of other men but because it worked for me at that time of my life.
There is one inescapable truth we need to grapple within MDI. As long as we insist that a man MUST be on a weekly men’s team at all times and that they MUST conform to this pigeonhole that we have created for ourselves, we limit the growth of our organization to a relatively small number of men. There are literally hundreds of alumni that want to participate regularly and re-join their place in a circle of honorable men, but they are limited by this notion that they either participate on a weekly men’s team or hit the highway. We have lost sight of the concept of welcoming our brothers for life.
You have to ask an experienced man to firmly declare his commitment, help him find where he will shine in the circle of men, welcome his participation and hold his feet to the fire if he breaks his own commitment. If we cannot overcome this barrier we have created, we will never, ever make it work for the vast majority of the rest of the world … 30 years is proof of that.
COUNTERPOINT – MDI a Circle of Men’s Teams
By Ed Aponte, Proud MDI Member and Dog Soldier, SER of MDI
I write this to express my absolute backing of the truth that our organization is empowered by men on men’s teams. We can do great work in MDI without necessarily being on a team, but I became a better man from being on a team of men. Without being on my team I will sell myself short on my potential and limit the distance the ripples of my purpose has on the world.
Before I was on a team I was proud of being self-sufficient and operating as an island without the need of anyone else. It wasn’t until I came to a team of men that were willing to hold up the mirror to me and show me how I was showing up in my life without apprehension of how it would harm our relationship, that I understood the value and purpose of being in a men’s team. These were “my men” – they stood with me when my marriage failed and pushed me to continue fighting for the relationship between my kids and myself, but also more importantly between their mother and I.
A highly functioning men’s team provides brutal unadulterated accountability. My men are willing to hold me to my word and deliver swift consequences when it isn’t kept. That’s why it’s vital for men to circle up around a team of men and – as steel sharpens steel – sharpen each other’s sword for battle on a weekly basis.
I believe it is hypocritical for me as a leader of our organization not to be on a team. We in MDI create great men’s team experiences and opportunities to grow as a leader. Both of these attributes are congruent. Regardless of how long we have been in our circle or the title given to a man, there is no man in our organization above being on a men’s team. How can we become better leaders, mentors and followers if we are not part of a men’s team? It’s not possible to lead, mentor or follow yourself. If we are going to sell the punch, we need to take a drink from it as well.
Time seems to be a barrier I often see used by men when they are validating their reasoning for not being on a men’s team. I am a single father of three children and have my kids living with me half the week. I also work full time running a pediatric clinic. I am active in my church and have been involved in a community group on and off for the past four years, often leading it. I have served MDI as a Division Coordinator for the past two years. I am also an Ironman triathlete and train between 10 to 12 hours per week. I’m not boasting of my responsibilities and choices but instead express here to clarify that when something is a priority in my life, time becomes available for it.
We pride ourselves on being an organization that does not do it alone: an organization that builds successful men in their families, careers and communities by harnessing the wisdom of our men. Men’s teams circle up shoulder-to-shoulder all across North America every week to build trust in the commonality of manhood and harness the wisdom of one another. We do this to push each other to live a purpose larger than the self and to be the man you always wanted to be while creating the difference that the world so desperately needs.