For most of my life I’ve struggled with, or pushed up against, what was expected of me as a man in our culture. Early on I bought the messages that a ‘Successful Man’ drove almost exclusively toward money, power and position.
He conquered this, dominated that, controlled this and built that. He didn’t take NO for an answer. He was a goal-obsessed, DOING-machine.
And that was essentially me until my early 30s.
What has defined my life over the last 17 years has been a human-tectonic shift in my journey from the outer-focused workaholic ‘Success Man’ to cultivating the inside-out ‘Conscious Man.’
At the start of this self-discovery adventure, I didn’t say one day, “hey, I want to be a conscious man.” Rather it was one that began with my own unexpressed pain and fear that once tapped revealed a whole new world to me that was richer, fuller and more authentic.
It has been intense, scary and sad along the way; and I opened to it and reveled in it. This adventure has been (and continues to be) for me about waking up… and then fully showing up.
And ultimately choosing to be a conscious man is about just that — waking up to our lives as men and how we can show up more purposefully and compassionately in the world.
Back in November 2015, I co-hosted the Conscious Men Summit with John Gray and Arjuna Ardagh. This 4-day global online event included 24 powerful, conscious men sharing their wisdom in 12 panel discussions with John, Arjuna and myself. Here are the 12 aspects of being a conscious man that we explored together and that form the core of John and Arjuna’s new book Conscious Men:
A conscious man…
- Knows his purpose and mission
- Knows how to take space gracefully
- Knows how to love deeply
- Knows how to listen like the sky
- Feels his wounds, but is not run by them
- Transforms his anger into powerful leadership
- Stands by his brother
- Keeps his word
- Gives his humor to open up everyone around him
- Lives his sexuality as a gift of love
- Respects the gifts of the feminine
- Is aware of our history
The conversation about healthy, mature masculinity is probably the most important personal and cultural conversation of this decade. So, my encouragement for men, and for women, is to be in the inquiry about your healthy masculinity and look for the places in you that are in shadow or that bring forth the unhealthy aspect of your expression as a man.