Sometimes When We Feel Like We Are Being Kicked In! We Are Actually Being Kicked Into Shape!

“All of us need to begin to think in terms of our own inner strengths, our resilience and resourcefulness, our capacity to adapt and to rely upon ourselves and our families.”Steven Pressfield

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We all know life can be tough sometimes. In fact one of the few things that we can be sure of is that at sometime in our lives we are going to go through massive pain or experience serious setbacks. It’s the deal right? Pleasure and pain, success and failure, binary oppositions are how we understand our reality. However, like so many of the useful skills that can be taught, no one takes us to one side and explains to us to use these setbacks. We might be a brief explanation about learning to ‘cope’ with failure etc, but we don’t need to cope with failure, we need to grow from failure. Pain, failure etc, these are the things that make us bigger.

Kintsugi-2[3]Kintsugi is a Japanese technique of repairing cracked pottery with brushstrokes of gold. The idea being that the natural stress cracks and the celebration of the damage actually make pots more beautiful. Now I have heard that this technique has no real history to it and it was always more of a philosophy and I don’t care. I really like this idea and I think it is the way to approach life’s ‘damage’. It makes us what we are. So all that is well and good but how do we make sure we bounce back enough from these setback to be able to celebrate them. Resilience!

Resilience seems to have become a buzzword recently, but what does it really mean? To me it means the ability to not only survive life’s challenges when they present themselves, but to actually thrive because of them. In short resilience is the ability to bounce even higher than you fall, and there is only one way to do that. We must become aware of the ‘why’s and ‘what’s in your life and reframing the ‘how’s. As soon as we start looking at challenges in terms of ‘why’ do I want to get through this, ‘what’ is on the other side for me when I get through this and changing the ‘how will I survive this’ into ‘how will I learn and grow from this’, we start bullet-proofing ourselves in a very real sense.

This is why I have developed an experiential workshop uses individual exercises and group facilitation to gain clarity around the strength we have to keep us going through difficult times and the tools to tap into those at anytime. This course is available to men of all walks of life regardless of faith, ethnicity, age, class, sexuality or ability.

I will be running this course in London on the 9th of April.  If you are interested in this, or any other workshop, then please click here to book a free 20 minute consultation so we can start the process of preparing you for the workshop.

 

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Remy Noe and a Bjorkliden Sunrise

It must be nearly two years ago that I attended a funny little exhibition in a transgender charity office above a Wimpy in Kent. Having spent years in the art trade and becoming accustomed to beer in Hoxton and champagne in Mayfair I have to admit that I was not expecting to be completely blown away by a BYO affair in Kent. However only dead fish swim with the stream and when an artist of the caliber of Joe Machine says that you have to check an artist out, then you have to check them out. Wow! Blown away I was!

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When I walked up the narrow staircase I was greeted by a large landscape titled ‘Bjorkliden Sunrise’ and knew instantly how visitors must have felt attending that first impressionist art salon above a shop in Paris one hundred and forty years earlier. I instantly knew that Remy was the ‘real deal’ and that I had to get involved in working with him. I am proud to say that I still represent Remy Noe to this day and am even prouder to say that he has become a friend. You would have to go a long way to find a more talented or nicer person.

I have a large selection of Remy’s art in my home and it’s a joy to be surrounded by it but the one I keep coming back to is ‘Bjorkliden Sunrise’. I am surprised that I still have it and know one day I shall be sad to see it go…..but that is the life of an art dealer, plus I have published prints of it so I will always have one of those to enjoy.

I have handled many paintings in my time but only very occasionally do you hold something that you know will be in a museum one day.

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If you are interested in viewing the work of Remy Noe or finding out more about him then please follow this link.  

‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be?

My mission is to create a world of love and abundance for all, my fathering all men, including myself, and choosing to be magnificent and powerful right now.

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Magnificence, and the idea of encouraging myself and other men to step into their magnificence, has long been a central part of my life. I just had one problem….my shadows. Who am I to father men? I’ve made too many mistakes in my past, I am not successful enough, my teeth are too crooked, I’m too fat, too dyslexic, or, my classic, “working class lads from the East End of London don’t go around talking about magnificence and missions!”. Basically! I am not good enough to take my mission, no matter how it calls me, out into the world. It’s easier to just pack it away into a nice neat little soundbite that I can struggle to remember whenever I sit in a circle of men, or to just hide. Who am I to go out into the world and encourage men to stand in their magnificence and shine as an example to the world?

Well we all know how the poem goes don’t we?

Who am I not to be?

So over the past 15 years I have been doing lots of work with men, mainly through The Mankind Project which I highly recommend, and through courses that I have either developed myself or attended, but I still struggled to take what I had to offer further out into the world. I’d built a few websites, developed some courses etc, but whenever it came to taking the next step and moving forward with these things…..the shadows come up and I found some excuse for not doing it.

So all of that changed. (helped in no small part by the encouragement and mentoring of my good friend Jamie Catto – If you have not attended one of his workshops then do. You’ll learn a lot and have a lot of fun.)

So a couple of days ago I made a little facebook group called ‘The Magnificent Man Project’ with the aim creating an online community that provides a supportive space for men that want to make the world a better place and encourages them to step into his magnificence and encourage others to do the same.  The response has been amazing! Over 200 members in the first day and at least 100 messages from men thanking me for setting it up and saying that they are excited to be part of it.

It’s a small step, but I am committed that it will be the first step of many in taking my mission further out into the world.

“I don’t know where I’m going from here, but I promise it won’t be boring.” – David Bowie

If you want to check out the facebook page then its here.

Or if you want to read a bit more about why I set it up then please read by recent blog post entitled: ‘The Magnificent Man Project. What? Why? Why Just Men? What Next?

Song for the Day: Buckley Sings Morrisey.

I know for many the jury is still out on Jeff Buckely but for me there is something about his voice, phrasing and intonation that I really like. It’s for these reasons that I like this version of ‘I Know It’s Over’ by The Smiths so much. In it you get a sense of just how much Morrisey influenced his style. I really like this version. I don’t think there has been that many successful covers  of The Smiths, but I do think this one stands out.

The Magnificent Man Project? What? Why? Why Just Men? What Next?

Yesterday I launched an online project called ‘The Magnificent Man Project’. It’s a very simple little project and it’s only been live for just over 12 hours. However it has already seen lots of men sign up and show interest and I have already been asked some questions. Namely! What is it? Why are you doing it? Why is it only or men? What are my aims for it?

Hopefully this post will go some way to answering it.

What?

‘The Magnificent Man Project’  is an online community whose mission is to create a supportive space for men that want to make the world a better place by encouraging each man to step into his magnificence. This space is used to share stories, articles, inspirations, projects, or to ask for what we need to step into our magnificence and encourage others to do the same. The Magnificent Man Project is open to men of all walks of life regardless of faith, ethnicity, age, class, sexuality or ability.

Why?

“Your playing small does not serve the world”.

We all know the Marianne Williamson poem right? Well that is why I want to do this. My personal life mission is to create a joyful world of love and abundance for all by choosing to be magnificent and powerful right now, and the reason I have selected that is for the above reason. When I act small, when I deny my talents and passions is when I mess it. When I choose to hide from the light then I also choose to hide in my shadows. What the world needs now is magnificent men stepping forwards to be magnificent examples, mentors, lovers , husbands, bosses, friends. Because when magnificent men do not step forward then others will, and when magnificent men don’t step forward then boy don’t get to learn how to be magnificent men and girls don’t get to see what a magnificent man really looks like. I know I may be stating the obvious here, but I just want to make it 100% crystal clear, that when I am talking about magnificent men that I am not talking about posturing, macho, alpha males, that use their gender as some form of weapon. When I talk about magnificent men I mean men that use their being, strength, power and vulnerability in aid of their communities and the world in general.

Why just men?

My experience for the last 15 years have been working specifically with men and their issues. So that is why I have set it up this was. Am I saying women can’t be magnificent? Am I saying the world doesn’t need magnificent women? Am I saying that a non-gender specific platform would not work as well? No! No! And No! It’s just this is what I do and I have some experience with helping men connect with their magnificence.

What next?

Well I hope it grows organically. I would like to see more men get involved and see where it goes. As I said I only have one mission and that is to help men connect with their magnificence and start to make the world a safer place.

If you could like to join ‘The Magnificent Man Project’ then please click here.

Midlife Crisis or Midlife Thrive

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“When I was a teenager all I wanted to do was listen to punk, skateboard, hang out with my friends and work on interesting and creative projects.  I think a midlife crisis is just when you realise that you were right in the first place”.

I posted the above as a status update on Facebook about 4 years ago. It was, and still is, the most ‘liked’ status I have ever posted.  Why?  Because it’s a little bit funny and a little bit self-deprecating? It can’t be as it is neither that funny nor that self-deprecating.  I believe that is was popular for the very simple reason that it is true, and that I have enough friends of a certain age that can relate to that feeling of wanting to reconnect to a simpler time where energy came from passion not promotions, and play was…well it was just that..play.

So is this a crisis or is it an opportunity?

CJ Jung says that “midlife is the time to let go of an over dominant ego and to contemplate the deeper significance of human existence.”  However, type ‘midlife’ into Google and you’ll see that the first thing that comes up is midlife crisis! In our culture this mid-point of the lives of men has become synonymous with affairs, sports cars and generally making fools of ourselves by trying to “recapture our youth”.  However, even a cursory knowledge of the ‘hero’s journey’ or narrative structures will show us that this midpoint in a person’s story is when he enters the ‘belly of the beast’ and makes the decision that this will either make his tale one of victory or tragedy.  Even in more modern reworkings of the ‘hero’s journey’,  such as Hollywood’s ‘Eight Sequence Structure’,  we learn that the ‘Mid-point’ of the story is when the hero replaces the desire for what he ‘wants’ with the desire for what he ‘needs’.  Interestingly, in the eight sequence structure the mid-point reflects the end, tragedy in the middle means a tragedy at the end and vise versa .  These mythic structures are how we understand our world. So why is the mid-point of our lives are treated as some sort of comic situation? Why are most suicides in the UK middle-aged men?  I believe it is because we are focusing on the wrong story. There is no midlife crisis! We just reach a stage in our lives when we have learned the skills we need, we have shaped our adult lives in one form or another and , after spending  twenty or so trying to get what we ‘want’, are now looking for what we ‘need’. This is not a crisis, this is an awakening. This is the part where we get to stop being in reaction and start carving out our lives as we actually always wanted them. The crisis comes when we lose sight of that, or worse, we lose sight of what it is that we ‘need’ and just looking for new things to want.

So what do we need? I have worked specifically within the arena of men’s personal development for over 15 years, have spent well over 1000 hours in group or one to one sessions, and have worked with hundreds of men.  What have I learned?  I have learned that men really crave are four key things.  Unsurprisingly these are the same four things that a boy needs, love and connection, security, community and something to do.  Basically what most men ‘need’ is to feel safe while they do something with others that will either bring them love, connection or show love and connection to those that they love. It’s pretty simple isn’t it? You don’t believe me? OK.

Recently I am proud to say, as part of my ‘midlife crisis’ I returned to skateboarding. Skateboarding was something that played a massive role in my young life and was one of those things that I put down when it was time to get serious. So have I gone back to it because I am trying to relive my youth? No! I have gone back to it because by skating I get to do something with others, build friendships and get to be part of a community.  OK so the safety bit isn’t there…but that comes from my fantastic wife these days and the knowledge that I am loved. Through returning to skating I have come into contact with dozens of men of a similar age that have also returned to it. What have I found? Much the same as I have found with my personal development. Men thrive within a situation where they can be active and productive within a community that they feel loved and supported in.

So what do we do to promote that?  Well I have a simple mission. My mission is to connect men with a sense of purpose that encourages them to build community and satisfy their emotional and creative needs in a way that enriches their own lives and the lives of those around them.  My first step on this mission, in additional to the relationships I build with men on a daily basis and the work I already do within male transformation, is bringing all that I have learned around connecting men with their life purpose, reconnecting them with a sense of play and power and bringing it together into a 2 day course that I feel will dramatically enrich the life of each man that attends it. This 2 day experiential workshop uses individual exercises and group facilitation to look at what you have learned so far from life’s journey, what you want from this stage of your life and how the decisions you make now will shape the rest of your life. From this place we will re-examine our view of midlife and develop tools to make sure that we enjoy a ‘midlife thrive’ that enhances the rest of our victorious life.

If you would like to find out more about this course then please click here

I have also set up an online project called ‘The Magnificent Man Project’. ‘The Magnificent Man Project’ is an online community whose mission is to create a supportive space for men that want to make the world a better place by encouraging each man to step into his magnificence. This space is used to share stories, articles, inspirations, projects, or to ask for what we need to step into our magnificence and encourage others to do the same. The Magnificent Man Project is open to men of all walks of life regardless of faith, ethnicity, age, class, sexuality or ability.

If you would like to join this community then please click here

Of course along the way I will be encouraging as many men as possible to listen to punk, skateboard, hang out with their friends and work on interesting and creative projects.

If you are interested in one of my courses or ongoing coaching, want to go skating, or just want more information about my mission and what I do then please do drop me a line.