Dads4Kids has been running leadership summits now for many years. I am constantly surprised at how effective such gatherings are at empowering men to change.
I remember the phone call I got from an employer of one of the men, a week after one of our early Men & Father’s Leadership Summits. His first words on the phone were rather dramatic. “What did you do to my employee?”
It was almost accusatory and initially I was quite fearful that the said employee had become an axe murderer or something equally horrific. He could hear the hesitancy in my reply and assured me, “No, no you don’t understand. He has completely changed for the better”. Gathering my wits, I stammered, “What do you mean?”
Mens Leadership Summit
The reply burst out, “Well, I was going to sack him, he was useless. He only thought about himself. He didn’t think of others at all, only his own needs and wants. Yes, he did some work from time to time, but his work wasn’t consistent in its quality or in its quantity. It was frustrating. His self-seeking narcissistic attitude was affecting my other workers. They say, ‘one bad apple spoils the bunch’, so I had made the decision to sack him. At the time, it was a forgone conclusion, but the Men and Fathers’ Summit changed everything.”
By this stage I was as quizzical as he was, and I begged him for more information, but all I could get out of this guy was praise and be-wonderment for the amazing changes in his employee. Frankly speaking, I was puzzled myself although I tried to sound like I knew what I was talking about.
I began to explain that I was as happy about the change as he was, but inwardly I was even happier for his wife and family. I knew that if there had been massive positive change at work, there had to be massive positive change at home too. Women and children have this uncanny ability to see right through our male bull artistry.
As I continued to pry the boss for more information about this miraculous change in character I started to think about one of the first men’s summits I had ever attended. It was an amazing experience to be surrounded by good hearted rough and tumble men. Some were carpenter/builders like myself, others were salesmen. Some were university professors and doctors while others were builder’s labourers. There was an enormous amount of goodwill in the gathering. Perhaps it was the result of a shared faith, or maybe the whole process of men deciding to go away with other men to learn how to be better me was self-selecting. Only the better men wanted to be better while those who were full of themselves slipped deeper into the quicksand of self without knowing they were about to be swallowed up by their own narcissism.
Whatever the case, the whole process of the weekend was invigorating, especially listening to men tell their stories. It was so reassuring to know that, as Thoreau so famously said, ‘Most men lead lives of quiet desperation’. It is so good to know you are not alone. Hearing other men be so blatantly self-revealing can put a lump in a man’s throat and heal a hole in a man’s heart even without him knowing.
I will never forget the blinding flash of revelation I received on hearing that a man needs to take his wife away for a romantic weekend at least once a year. Our children were quite young and my wife was very reluctant to get away, as most wives are. But I organised the babysitting and booked in a couple of nights away. My wife ‘glowed’ as Colin Hay sang in his hit ‘Down Under’. Suffice to say it was a good thing for one and all.
I also remember the first time I really heard about rites of passage at such a men’s gathering. Rites of Passage are conducted by tribal and Indigenous people groups all over the world, for their young boys, usually around puberty (12 years of age). Whilst ceremonies vary enormously, Richard Rohr, who has given his life to the study of Rites of Passage, and helping men experience the power of such rites for themselves says that the five essential messages of initiation are:
Life is hard.
You are not important.
Your life is not about you.
You are not in control.
You are going to die.
I believe there is a sixth important element. The affirmation of manhood by a father or a group of men. It is the moment when the father says of his son (as in the Bar Mitzvah), “This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased”. These are not just hollow spoken words but a time in a son’s life where his father now entrusts his business to his son, who can now act on his behalf as a man with authority. It is called, ‘growing up quickly’. The thing is that most men have never had a chance to grow up or be affirmed in their manhood by their peers. As Jordan Peterson has said, “there is nothing sadder than a man who has never grown up!”
So Dads4Kids has been running Men & Fathers’ Summits for many years now. Inspired by the words of Richard Rohr and well-known writers of men’s books such as Robert Bly (Iron John), Gordon Dalby (Healing of the Masculine Soul), John Eldredge (Wild at Heart), Brian Molitor (Boy’s Passage Man’s Journey) and Edwin Louis Cole (Maximised Manhood).
Maybe it was the simple rough and tumble presence of true masculinity that pushed this man who was going to get the sack out of his narcissism, I don’t know? Maybe it was the words of the keynote speakers at the summit that tugged his heartstrings, maybe it was the fact that each summit gathering is designed around the six basic rites of passage known by men the world over. All I know is that any man who attends a Dads4Kids Men’s Leadership Summit will never be the same again, and that is a good thing.
Dads4Kids doesn’t often ask for help but we are asking for help with this one!
Help yourself and another man. That’s right – consider coming to our ‘Men’s Leadership Summit’ at Stanwell Tops, 17-19 August and bring a friend with you. Early bird price finishes soon. Book now and save $40. Check out News & Info or book at https://www.trybooking.com/386239
You will never regret, neither will your invited friend and most importantly neither will your children if you are a father. So, do it for them. If you are a man, you need to lead by example.