By Fred Boyles
In December 1988, I did an experiential seminar called “Men, Sex and Power” or what is now called “The Men’s Weekend.” I’ve spent 30 years on a men’s team. Over the years, I’ve heard different leaders promise that we would grow to thousands of men, and yet here we are at a few hundred. With several divisions breaking away from MDI we are growing even smaller. So if expanding into an organization of thousands was the measurement of success … we have failed so far.
As with any relationship, there is responsibility on all sides regarding the success or failure. I chose to own my part of the problem, as I did not have a relationship with our Board of Directors, a relationship that was vital to our cohesion.
With all the shifting of organizational structure, I am left with a desire to stay connected (I am a dues-paying member of MDI) and a realization that there still remains, at core, a chance to be with “my men.” Here are few examples:
1. Buddy calls.
2. Mentor calls. Call a man whom you trust to help with your issues. Two men mentored me how to take and store notes. Jim Ellis will edit this and make me a better writer.
3. 1-hour phone team call once a week. We read books together and share how the book landed on each of us. We also do check ins. One of the most important parts of our team’s agenda.
4. Marco Polo video that men can view at their leisure. You watch your video and connect with your not so hidden context and feelings. Watching other men posts inspires men and kill procrastination.
5. Group texting, where men’s issues are addressed by the team in writing.
6. Journaling on text. For those willing, men can journal on a team’s group text site with other men doing the same. By sharing your thoughts with other men they are inspired by your comments, as well as answer and journal for themselves.
7. Windshield Time. As I drive down the freeway, I call alumni and other teammates and do the “team of two.” I fit them in the cracks of my life.
8. Belonging. By belonging to MDI, the division Big Stick, and a Bravo Team I have access to men with texting, phone calls, face-to-face teams, Division meetings, rocking chair meetings, elder visits, etc.
What I’ve learned is that my men’s team did not have everything to help me grow as much as I wanted. All of my mistakes in life have been caused by making decisions by myself. Now I have many ways to make sure I am not alone, but rather have the company of men to help make my life incredible.
A final point, we have had thousands of men within MDI leave our teams without official ways of staying in each other’s lives. Every man who has left is one more missed opportunity to mentor, and be mentored.
These men are all my best friend and a mentor in some way.