Lessons From Michael

“There’s more to life than basketball. The most important thing is your family and taking care of each other and loving each other no matter what.” – Steph Curry

Some people are saying it’s harder to be a man today than ever before. Maybe that’s true, I wasn’t there ‘before’ – Dad and Grandpa were. They would probably say it was simpler, but I’m not sure it was easier. Some people are saying we have an epidemic of manhood. Maybe that’s true too. It seems to me that as a society we are less clear on what manhood actually means; the spectrum of strength to sensitivity seems to fall short of something that embraces full and whole manhood.

I have a 7-year-old son, Michael, who has enriched my life in so many ways. His energy and enthusiasm is so male, his creativity and thoughtfulness continues to leave me wide-eyed at what’s in him. When I think about him, I think of 3 things: “Love God, lead my family and leave a legacy.” For me, those three things matter to our manhood more than anything.

Let me explain:

LOVE – The commitment to embrace

The ancients wrote that “The greatest is love.” People will forget what you did and remember how you made them feel. As I reflect on life and leadership so far I’d recommend saying less and listening more. Sharing more encouragement than opinion. Find the 1% you agree on and give 100% of your energy to that (Attribution: John Maxwell 101% principle) My son personifies love. He has a deep well of care, consideration and sensitivity that I see in few men. I believe if you keep that and you’ll go far.

Never be afraid to stand up, step up and create a better future for yourself and those around you. Click To Tweet

LEAD – The courage to stand out

Part of manhood is having a deep vision and purpose for your life. Men without a purpose are spineless, nothing to hold you up in the face of challenge and opportunity. When you have a purpose you have a true north to get up to, invest into and seek out. The lack of a purpose means you delay responsibility, challenge, failure. Never be afraid to stand up, step up and create a better future for yourself and those around you. Leadership begins with self. It is important to learn the art of self-leadership as early as possible in life. Just that will launch you forward faster.

LEGACY – The privilege of serving

My son is a unique individual but also part of a wider family, a community, a country and a world. His responsibility is to be the very best. Not only for the sake of his own sense of pride but more for the sake of those who will benefit the best version of himself. Legacy is hard to point to looking forward because it’s more potential and possibility. It’s easier to see it in retrospect, the fruit of what came before. When it comes to legacy, you have to believe that continuing to sow the right seeds will produce the right harvest. In your life, your marriage, your family, your careers and your contribution to the planet.

When it comes to legacy, you have to believe that continuing to sow the right seeds will produce the right harvest. Click To Tweet

The curious thing for me is, I’m still learning to be the man I’m describing to you right now. Life is punctuated by points of growth and change. All the while winding upward towards the dream and purpose you pursue. It is also dotted with disappointments and hurts, realisations and revelations, joys and celebrations, regrets and determinations. The main thing is to be certain you are becoming more of the man you need to be over time. Doing less of those things that will place weeds in your life and legacy. And more and more of those things that will give greater assurance of a healthy and enriched experience and future.

In all the teaching on manhood that I read and that resonates with me they talk about this thing called a “Father Wound” Richard Rohr defines it as “a deep hurt, a deprivation that leads to a poor sense of one’s own centre and boundaries, a mind that is disconnected from one’s body and emotions, a life often with the passivity of an unlit fire”. As a definition, this feels too drastic to believe that it would be true. I know it’s worse for some and not others.

Even as I write this I loathe the idea that I would wound my son in a way that at some point in his life he’ll have to process on the way to fully formed manhood. I hate a few things but this would be on the list, knowing my woundedness has wounded him. Just like my dad never set to give me a Father Wound I never intentionally want to do that to him. That said, when you know what it is, name it, learn from it and be pleased of it. You are not the Father Wound, you are, in part, the healing of that wound, and you are so much more.

One of my big mistakes is I have treated problems as something I ‘action’ my way out of when what I really needed to have done is dig deeper into the formative and learning possibilities in these moments. I missed a number of opportunities to grow personally and learn relationally because of this, I trust I am amending that now and into the future because that will help you when you hit a roadblock.

There are 5 key principles that I believe will help men in our generation grow in the area of contribution and purpose. These are: Formation, Education, Action, Purpose and Legacy. Join me again next week when I break these down as we journey into being better.