The four faces of manhood, developing the lover and friend before giving the sword

In a recent conversation with a very good friend, we spoke about the four faces of manhood. This faith-based idea explores masculinity and highlights a theory that focuses on how men should be represented in our world. These four faces of manhood are believed to be: the king, the warrior, the lover, and the friend. The king is a representation of leadership and integrity. The warrior fights for what matters most. The lover represents providing tender care for others and having the ability to be vulnerable, and the friend through pursuing character builds healthy connections with others.

In our discussion, we spoke about the positives of this concept, and to the unfortunate reality that many of our young men and I would argue young ladies are not developing to their full potential (through no fault of their own). Most of the blame could point towards society and the decay of civility amongst people, and I would tend to agree in part, but I think there is a nuance here that we might be missing. The faith-based organizations would argue that these values have been lost because people are straying from the teachings of the church and the holy scriptures. Also, quite possibly a reason. But, I would contend that perhaps our society has placed the development of the “warrior” higher than any other. Our young boys see hyper-masculinity portrayed daily and are emulating what they perceive as the right path. I would suggest that we have our priorities backward and that the path of our young boy’s development should focus on strengthening the faces of the lover and friend. Educators, mentors, coaches, and teachers should foster values like compassion, empathy, character, and vulnerability. These values of the lover and friend are what we should be espousing in our children before ever allowing them the wield the sword. The young warrior will surface, but if nurtured correctly after the traits of the lover and friend we will see steady, mature, and thoughtful fighters for what matters most, humanity.

At Emerge, the nonprofit I am building, we will develop young leaders by focusing on these values and character traits described. We will be in the business of producing future leaders who serve, build-up, and stand-up for others.

Don’t be afraid to cry

What’s wrong with you? Why are you crying? Man-up and stop being a B!#&*. Our boys hear statements like this and many other phrases like them every day. Society has taught our young boys and young men that emotion equals weakness, and “real men” do not show weakness. I am a product of that mentality, especially coming from the military. But I will be the first one to say we are wrong. I understand that men have filled a specific role in our society and considered the foundation of the family structure, but as our world evolves and our issues (no matter what they are) become more and more challenging. Society as a whole needs to reevaluate our humanity and the way we deal with our emotional response. Hypermasculinity has become the action but is not the answer. Hypermasculinity is a psychological term for the exaggeration of male stereotypical behavior, such as an emphasis on physical strength, aggression, and sexuality. Burying deep emotional distress is a part of hypermasculinity, and I would contend creating an angrier man.

I recently heard a news report where the interviewer asked our young boys in Parkland, Florida about the recent shootings and how they were coping with the tragedy. Many of their responses were, “I’m fine” or “I’m cool.” And yet, when pressed further many of these kids said they were sad and had a myriad of emotions, but would not show those feelings because it was not what men do. Some of the kids stated that it was “not normal,” not normal for men to cry. When reflecting on that remark, I thought to myself, that response is the problem. Our society has made it so that it IS normal for men to bury emotion deep within themselves and it IS the reason why we have such anger in our world. It perhaps could be a more significant contributor to many of the mental health problems we see today.

Imagine a teapot. Think of this pot as it begins to heat up and the liquid within starts to boil and turn to steam. As the steam builds and creates more pressure within, the expanding gas must find a way to escape. If that gas cannot escape and the pot is not removed from the heat, what is the result? Boom! Consider that buried emotion is that expanding gas in our youth, and there is nowhere for that pent-up (you name it; sadness, frustration, anger) to go, what is that result?

I believe that we (teachers, faith leaders, civic leaders) should be changing the narrative around how our youth cope with emotion. We need to make it standard for our youth to feel empowered to share their feelings with others. We should have more counselors in our schools. We should allow our emotion as adults to show. I would contend that men can show strength by enabling others to see their sadness and grief. The power is in how we rebuild and grow from our pain. It is okay to cry; it is okay to say I am hurting, and it is okay to be human. Don’t be afraid to cry. Set the example for the sake of our children.

Life is… Learning

Take a moment, imagine you are writing your résumé and deciding which adjectives you would use. What words describe who you are? Which labels would you want your potential supervisor to make when they make their hiring decision?

One descriptor I would choose for myself is, life-long learner. Lifelong learning is defined as “all learning activity undertaken throughout life, with the aim of improving knowledge, skills and competences within a personal, civic, social and/or employment-related perspective” (emerging technologies).

I haven’t always been an excellent student. Many times while I was in high school I dreaded going to school and could remember spending time daydreaming about getting to the dojo. I didn’t take high school as seriously as I should have, and I look back wishing that I had. Sometime during my first enlistment in the military, I realized the importance of education. I became aware that the constant badgering by my parents, teachers, and mentors regarding the importance of education was a missed opportunity. It did not seem consequential at the time, but I was lucky. I did well enough to enlist, but for many, that was not an option. Fortunately for me, all was not lost, and my excitement for learning grew. I became a life-long learner.

Why am I writing about this? I’m sharing because I am a convert. I want to be the next disciple to badger our youth; to harass you about the importance of education and the continued quest for mastery. As the maxim says, knowledge is power, and I want you to be powerful! I want you to exceed your wildest dreams and reach for the stars. I wish you the revelation that I had when I was in the Navy. Don’t ever stop learning…

The Ultimate Black Belt Test 2018 asks that we attain mastery within our selves. To bring our study out from our respective dojos and into the world. I am doing this by making a portion of my test the continued pursuit of mastery in my education, and as I get close to finishing my first semester in my graduate certificate study and hopeful transition to a Ph.D. in public policy. I am optimistic that what I am learning now will benefit the students I will soon have in my new Martial Arts & Leadership School; Emerge– the Art of Leadership.

Back in the Saddle

When you have setbacks or fall short of a goal, it is essential that you get back in the saddle, like a cowboy bucked from his horse. There will be points in your journey where you will undoubtedly fail; you will not get those 150 push-ups a day that you have committed to or finish the goal you set out to achieve. It’s okay. Just realize that you have missed your target and re-commit to your end goal. You got this; you can reach your desires, you can master your agenda, and you can accomplish your objective.

I understand, first hand, the difficulty of starting again. You feel ashamed, and want to hide it away. You get lazy and lose motivation to try again. You feel defeated and lack the will to strive for the win. Sometimes, all it takes is just taking one single, solitary action to get you moving. A baby step, but a step nonetheless and you are back in motion.

We lead by example, and as leaders, we should be willing to share our failures as much as we are eager to share our victories. It doesn’t matter how many times it takes us to get there, all that matters is that fact that we got back into the saddle and committed to reaching success. Take Thomas Edison for example; it took him over 3,000 tries to efficiently create a viable light bulb to be distributed to the masses. It is tenacity like this which makes people successful. So, as Robert T. Bennett wrote, “Difficulties and adversities viciously force all their might on us and cause us to fall apart, but they are necessary elements of individual growth and reveal our true potential. We have got to endure and overcome them, and move forward. Never lose hope. Storms make people stronger and never last forever.”

In conclusion, when like me you stumble, pick your self up, knock the dust off, face your fear (guilt, stubbornness, laziness), and get back into that saddle. You’ll be glad you did.

#Enough

When is it enough? When will we have the realization that we have lost our humanity? Future generations will look back upon us and question, why?

 

I am appalled; I am sorrowful, I am enraged!

 

Gun Violence, THIS DISEASE that is plaguing our country must be eradicated. Our leaders are too weak and fickle. They worry more about their campaign contributions than the lives of our youth. Many of these “leaders” (I use this term lightly) have children, and yet they act as if they don’t. I am furious! ENOUGH. There is no empathy.

 

I read a posting from a friend saying, “Let me be (expletive) clear. There is no greater form of patriotism than realizing your fellow Americans are dying and wanting to do something about it. If the status quo is broken, then patriots must fix it. If you think the status quo is OK, then I question your patriotism. Let’s solve problems and not accept the results of inaction.”

Yesterday’s mass murder of 17 was the result of inaction. Las Vegas mass murder of 58 dead and 815 injured was the result of inaction. Does it take the killing of your child, your loved one, or your friend to be the catalyst that changes your mind? It sure as hell doesn’t here.

Together, we must reclaim our humanity. We must become the leaders that finally stop this cycle of idiocy. You must be a collective voice; you must take action, and you must remove those who will not. We have had enough. We had enough back in the Camden shooting, University of Texas tower shooting, Wilkes-Barre, San Ysidro McDonalds, Edmond Post Office, GMAC, Luby’s, Columbine High School, Red Lake, Virginia Tech, Binghampton, Fort Hood, Geneva County, Sandy Hook Elementary, Aurora, Washington Navy Yard,
San Bernadino, Umpqua Community College, Charleston Church, Orlando nightclub, Las Vegas, and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High. There are many more. #Enough

 

What can you do? You can call your representative and convey to them that you have had enough. You can organize your friends and create an event; you can find and support an event. You can post on your social media that you have had #Enough, and you can run for office and be the change you seek.

 

The one thing you cannot do is remain silent.

Ryan McGill: Congress must act now to protect Mueller investigation and safeguard national security

When Americans go to the ballot box, they put their confidence in leaders they believe will prioritize national security above partisan interests. But some Congressional Republicans have betrayed that confidence.In recent weeks, President Trump’s allies have escalated their attempts to discredit Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election — even going so far as to smear and attack law enforcement officials involved in the

Source: Ryan McGill: Congress must act now to protect Mueller investigation and safeguard national security

Get off your couch!

On January 20th, 2018 thousands of people, from cities around the world, emerged onto the streets to raise their collective voice. We stood in support of women’s rights, equity, inclusion, and for humanity. We marched not against someone, but for something; we marched for the betterment of our lives, our families, our friends, and our communities. We demonstrated to give voice to thousands who have been silenced throughout the years.

 

Every generation has been confronted with challenges that tested the human condition, and out of that turmoil, leaders emerged to help guide us through. These leaders were ordinary people who came from all walks of life and social-economic upbringing, who only became great because of their willingness to step forward and TAKE ACTION. It was their willingness to DARE. They desired to DREAM.  Each and every one of us can lead, and it all begins with getting off the couch.

 

When thinking of great leaders which names come to mind? For me, I think of Susan B. Anthony, Mother Teresa, Rosa Parks, and Harriet Tubman. Take any one of the many beautiful examples throughout our history, and you will discover each with unique stories and abilities that when put to use changed our world. Because they chose to make an effort these women were in action.

 

The Ultimate Black Belt Test 2018 gives us a unique opportunity to take the steps necessary to become great leaders. We have the space to create a sphere of influence that will resonate amongst our peers and motivate them to step forward. KJN Tom Callos has coined the term Out of the Dojo into the World. This is what we must do. It doesn’t matter how or where it just matters that we do. I have read many opinions through posts on social media sites that suggested that we refrain from speaking out about issues of the day. Especially when it concerns our government. As leaders, it is our role to challenge people to become successful humans who eventually eclipse us in all ways. We must be mindful of the challenges our world faces, and we must confront them while ensuring that we pass on the correct tools to guide those who follow. What we can only hope for is people modeling themselves after our cause seeking to act as the torchbearers of our ideas. Leadership is merely, just daring to create an action and organizing people to achieve those results.

 

What are some actions you can take today? What role can you step into to lead change? How can you be the change you seek? For me, I have decided that I will work within the community and seek out ways that I can be of service. I realize that my involvement requires more time and effort. However, I am taking some actionable steps; demonstrating, organizing, volunteering, and collaborating. I am pursuing a goal to learn more about Urban planning, and I am moving forward towards serving my City’s youth. What is your call to action? What will you do to step away from your couch and lead? As Martin Luther King, Jr. stated, “the time is always right to do the right thing.” This is our time.

The Story

A good leader is…? There are many adjectives to describe what a good leader is or how a good leader should be. All of which are opinions and are based on the person you speak with. Leadership is an Art, and there is a lot of room for interpretation and creation. Leaders, however, are not perfect and will make many mistakes throughout their lives, but a great leader is self-aware of her/his misgivings and will make a concerted effort to grow from their mistakes.

I am continually reminded that I still have a lot of growth to achieve. One such teaching moment happened this morning. On several occasions, we have had a random dog show up at our house and caused quite an amount of raucous because his presence gets our dogs going crazy. The barking and growling carries on and will not stop. It is maddening. This dog has been left to wander around in the middle of the night causing us to lose precious sleep. I believed that the poor dog had been abandoned in the neighborhood and on couple occasions I have contacted animal control to come and take care of him. I finally thought that we were in the clear until he returned this morning. I created a story surrounding this animal and about the situation. I built this gigantic tale about the dog and about his horrible owners here in the neighborhood. It is evident that the dog lived in the community because he was back, again. I began to blame the owners. I made the assumption that the owners were deliberately allowing this animal to roam the neighborhood and didn’t care what problems it was causing. I was MAKING myself upset. I was getting angry about this animal and the situation without knowing what the real story was. I made it all in my head.

As I was yelling at this dog to “get out!” and “go home,” I heard the voice of an elderly lady. She was yelling out a name, and I could tell that she was distraught. The lady was calling out for her dog, that same dog that had been causing us such grief. I went to her and asked if she was missing a black dog. With tears in her eyes, she said, “yes.” “That dog has given me so much trouble. Animal control has fined me twice for him getting loose.” She had stated that she had been fined $120 by the city and didn’t know what to do. She cannot afford to pay the fines. The dog would get away from her when she would try to take him out to pee and runoff. I could see the frustration on her face and felt her emotion. I made her wrong, I created a narrative without knowing and was reacting. I didn’t know her story or her situation.

Why am I telling this story? I think that many of us will create stories in our head, as in my case, we act on or allow ourselves to be affected by this made up crap. Yes, it is crap because it isn’t based on any fact. It’s baseless imagination which in turn creates an adverse reaction. This situation was a wake-up call. I realized that I need to be more cognizant of my thoughts and how I perceive what is actually happening. I cannot change my actions, but I can learn from them. What I learned today is how easy it is for me to make a story up and how it is even easier to allow my thoughts to dictate how I react. This is not a new challenge for me, as my partner has reminded me of this before. However, it is a renewed opportunity for me to review and commit to change.

That poor lady has her own circumstances and life challenges, and I had no right to make her wrong.

 

Please check out what I’m up to here: www.ultimateblackbelttest.com

In The Beginning

The new year brings new opportunity. My commitment to a year-long odyssey challenging me to go beyond my comfort zone has started, and I can positively report that it has launched great.

In the beginning, the task seemed a little daunting. “Holy Smokes,” I thought, how am I going to manage my time? 1000 miles of the run, walk, hike, bike, or swim… what am I thinking? As I sat down to figure out what I would be doing for this exam, I realized that this type of commitment required a steadfast and committed character. Two traits that I believe a leader must have. These qualities are essential because a leader must dedicate their full set of abilities to reach the desired outcome and not waiver when obstacles present themselves. I am fully aware that there will be obstacles and that I may not make the required 150 pushups a day or the scheduled run for the week, but what will make me successful is to acknowledge the breakdown and move forward. Steadfast and Committed.

 

My progress thus far in the physical realm has been good but not great. I am meeting my targeted goals, but my fitness is not where I believe it should be. I know now that I have a lot of work to go. I have started my 150 pushups and situp regime, which hasn’t been too complicated. By breaking the 150 down into five separate periods, it has made it easier to manage as I begin. As my strength gains, those periods will get less as I gain the ability to do more consecutive pushups in one sitting.

 

I have started my Jiujitsu classes with an excellent instructor John “Piper” at Charlotte Brazilian JiuJitsu Academy. It is always humbling going to a new school as a beginner and trust that the instructor is “legit.” Coach Piper is a great teacher, and I trust that he has a good heart and character. I am excited to begin this new journey with him.

 

I am continuing my cardio and strength classes at MADabolic here in Charlotte which is a killer workout that I am always happy to leave when training is completed. It hurts, but well worth it.

 

The mental realm begins today as I start my graduate studies in Urban Management and Policy from University of North Carolina Charlotte, and I continue my Spanish course with the Academy of Language here in Charlotte on Thursday. My personal belief about Leadership and Leaders is that they must be lifelong learners. Knowledge is empowerment and very crucial, as John F. Kennedy once stated, “leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” I am committed to continuing my quest for knowledge and becoming a great leader in my local sphere of influence.

 

In the spiritual realm, I have begun my meditation practice once again. In the past, I had spent a lot of time in meditation. However; life happens, and I had drifted away from my practice. Returning I have found it incredible how much better I feel after I complete a successful meditation. Spiritually this is much needed for my well-being and for the small amount of anxiety I am getting due to having taken on so much this year. I would suggest that meditation is necessary for everyone.

 

I end this with a thought on Leadership… If you, like me, were able to watch the College Football National Championship you would have seen an exceptional example of leadership and resilience. The Alabama Crimson Tide lead by coach Nick Saban was able to overcome a 13 point deficit at the end of the first half. He managed to keep a team of young college men steadfast, calm (in most cases), and focused on the goal of winning the game. And finally, after many setbacks was able to coach his team to his sixth national championship. Imagine the leadership skill it takes to keep a group of young men focused on continued success after many disappointments. The training and coaching ability of this man and his team is inspiring. Coach Saban stated after a question was asked about what keeps Nick Saban coming back every year? He says it’s not just about championships. “You have an opportunity to help players be more successful in life. … The message to the team tonight after this game? I hope you take something from this game and the resiliency that you showed in this game and it helps you be more successful in life.”

Isn’t that what we as leaders are meant to do, help guide others to lead the most successful life they can. How can you and I become that type of leader? What can I do to affect change?

 

I am going to take a page from Tom Callos’ book and write handwritten letters to influential leaders like Nick Saban and get their take on what it means to be a good leader and what each of these masters does to influence the lives of others.

Until next time…

The Ultimate Black Belt Test 2018 – Continued Leadership Development

 

What is the Ultimate Black Belt Test?

 

It is a year-long journey that was created to transform the body, mind, and spirit. The UBBT holds each of its candidates to a higher level of accountability and gives each member the ability to impact their respective communities. By transforming our body we are setting an example for our peers and inspire those whom we come in contact with. By transforming our mind we are continuing the path of many masters and leaders who have come before us by continuing to learn and gain new wisdom. By transforming our spirit we are looking within our selves through practiced meditation and outside by stepping away from our comfort zones to effect positive change in our communities.

 

The UBBT is a pilgrimage of the heart and soul. It will test commitment, determination, and emotional IQ. It will make us move away from our egos and think more intentionally about the world around us. We will impact our sphere of influence in a positive way which will, in turn, create better leaders, family members, friends, and more importantly better humans.

 

The Requirements:

 

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