Next week will mark the half-way point of the Men’s Leadership Training. Twelve bold men taking serious action toward living more powerful, impactful lives. This is a guest post from one of the participants of the current MLT 2010. I met Jonathan last fall over the phone when I started coaching him. I asked the tribe of MLT if someone would like to write about their experience thus far. As per usual, Jonathan jumped forward and here is what he has to say after 80 days in the six month training.
On a cold, clear Thursday night in January 2010, I walked into a room of men I had never met before. By Sunday, I was calling these men my brothers.
That isn’t quite the beginning of my story. Let me back up.
I joined MLT because I want to make a difference in the world. I wanted to get real; I wanted to stop hiding from my issues. I was tired of feeling alone. I was afraid of coasting, but even more afraid of completely opening my eyes to my potential.
I desperately wanted to be part of a group of men that make a difference in their own lives, the lives of their friends and family and even the world.
Has MLT made a difference in any of that?
When I started this training, I would never call myself a “man.”
I had no idea what it meant. I was turned off to the depth of love I could give and receive. I would beat myself up if I wasn’t able to “stay happy.” I felt isolated.
What is different now?
I am a much more conscious man.
I openly express sadness, anger, fear, rage, self-doubt and am completely vulnerable within a group of powerful men. I am in a tribe of men who are not afraid to be authentic and deal with the real issues in our lives: purpose, love, money, integrity, sex, fear – all the things that were hard to talk about with another man in the past.
I faceplant way more often than I’d like. I constantly let myself be distracted from sharing my light.
The difference is how I handle falling down: I am able to stand up and keep going, without judging myself. I beat myself up less for not being perfect. I am able to love myself for who I am, instead of hating myself for what I can’t do.
MLT has opened me up to a flood of awareness. I’ve learned tools for communication and setting boundaries. I have learned about my nature through journaling, the Enneagram and even some astrology.
This hasn’t been a joyride. Participating in MLT is one of the hardest things I have ever done. Not every moment of MLT is challenging – most are real, authentic and empowering. It is one of the hardest things I have ever done because there is no hiding from myself. Every dark and painful experience that I feel shame or fear around, I am choosing to face.
Keeping my eyes open puts me in touch with my power. It makes me aware of the light that shines forth and illuminates the world around me. When I confront my darkness, I am more able to live with love and passion.
I have come to know my truth better. I recognize it. In moments of shame and darkness, I can look inward and see what feels true. When I do, I can move shame into self-loving. From my truth, I can feel my power and integrity in the actions I take.
MLT is about learning to be who you are. It is about giving and receiving love. It is breathing in through your balls and feeling a deep connection with the world around you. It is about opening your heart. It is about living with truth and courage and integrity. It is about not being afraid to be vulnerable in the presence of other men. It is about not hiding yourself any more.
Finding my Tribe
The best part of MLT is the tribe. These men are real, authentic and powerful. Finding someone real is difficult in our society; I am real and I am with men who are also real.
This tribe is a place to belong – a group of men committed to their authenticity, courageously facing our edges, supporting each other, while giving honest (as in no bullshit) feedback on how every one of us is showing up. Being a part of this group means so much to me. If I had not joined, I would have been committing to the same bullshit that kept me inauthentic, limited and playing on the sidelines of my life.
The first weekend intensive was one of the most profound experiences of my life. As I write and recall these memories, I am filled to the brim by the emotions of it.
I answered some of the most important questions I have ever asked of myself: Can I give everything for those I love? Can I give my all when my body tells me there is nothing more to give? Can I stand in the face of my greatest fear with an open heart? Knowing the answers to these questions gives me inner strength that I had only imagined before.
Do you know what it looks like when a man gives his all? When he holds nothing back? I saw 15 men do it. I did it. I saw 15 men give their all until there was nothing left, and then when they thought they were done, they were asked for more. Do you know how many men crapped out and decided there was nothing left? Zero. Not one man decided that they wouldn’t keep giving their all. That is the caliber of men that I am on this journey with, and the quality of man that I am.
I am avoiding the specifics of the weekend on purpose. I hope that at least one man out there will read this and be inspired enough to take the risk and participate in MLT. I do not want take away from those men’s experience; I do not want to take the risk of his life not being changed because he knew what he was getting into.
What’s next for me?
Honestly, I have no concrete idea. Every week has different gifts and lessons to learn. It is not a classroom; it is my life. I am learning how to live my life on my terms. I am becoming the man I consciously choose to become.
I’m still working on not being limited by my fears – of not being worthy of love and of not being enough to achieve my dreams. I am learning to grow through these fears and to embrace my life with an open heart. I am learning to give and receive love more fully. I am going to be pushing my boundaries as a man around love, connection, acceptance, awareness, sex, money, potential and what my concept of manhood is.
MLT is inspiring me and teaching me to live up to that in every area of my life. MLT is about living in integrity with my truth, and it is giving everything in service of love to that truth.
When I started this journey, I couldn’t have looked you in the eye and told you that I was a man. Much has happened since then, and much more will happen in the future.
Whatever happens, this is me looking you in the eye.
I am a man.
Jonathan Wondrusch is not only a participant in MLT, he writes his own blog http://www.grokkery.com/, is a young visionary, he helped produce this video, and he continues to step into the badass that he is.