June 24, 2020. Nothing at all is what we expected when we planned out our goals for Q1 and Q2 of this year. Remember January when we set the bar high for 2020 on all fronts because we knew that this year was going to be OUR year? The year we were going to crush our sales goals, make a clean sweep in our fantasy league, and finally buy that (fill in the blank with whatever extravagant toy we planned on buying back in February).
And then it hit. The unknown, unpredictable, unplanned, gasp-worthy year hit. March 2020 and the pandemic opened up what would be for many of us men an acute personal awareness like we had never experienced before. I know this to be true because my friend – it hit me too.
There are no bars, no happy hours, no sporting events or late-night hangs with the boys. There are no sales conferences, leadership events, networking parties or whiskey tastings masked as business events. There are no WODs, 5:30 am gym sessions to finally deadlift 400lbs, and no in-person brainstorming and strategy sessions with the team to remind us – even if false and temporary – that we are needed and valuable.
There are no monthly (or possibly weekly for overachievers) date nights with the wife to make up for the 14 hour days we put in at the office. There are no heroic moments when dad comes home a little bit early and sweeps up both kids and plays in their room for 20 minutes to push the guilt down. There are no easy wins at the office to keep our confidence up or authority and power to toss around on ZOOM or for some of us – simple reminders that we are useful and needed.
You see, I’m discovering that many of us men have found ourselves sitting more than normal. We are idle more than normal. We are contemplating our lives more than normal and even for some, having to finally face our fears and determine what to do next.
We can’t escape. We can’t get away and we can’t run to the low hanging fruit that we once did to be filled with affirmation, encouragement and personal worth. We can no longer ignore the gap in our marriages and distance from our children. We can no longer say, “I am busy,” “I will be gone for work,” or “Man – right now is just not the season.”
We are now postured to look ourselves straight in the face – to spend more time looking in the mirror and less time looking out the window. To take a deep dive into all that we have been hiding from for the last 5-10 years and I believe that this time could quite possibly be one of the greatest gifts we’ve ever been given. The gift to determine what we really care about most, to put a stake in the ground for what we really believe and more than anything – stop sitting in the chair of self-pity and confusion and STAND UP.
Stand up with deep conviction – not arrogance – and decide what kind of man you are going to become. Stop looking for your “professional abilities” to mask and make up for your “personal liabilities.” Stop pretending that the marriage is her fault. Stop yelling at your kids because they just want you to hold them. Stop masking your pride by telling others that they just aren’t “_____” enough for you. We will never build and leave the legacy we desire as long as we keep trying to conquer our lives. We are not designed to conquer. The pain in our world, our country, and our home is caused by our failed conquest.
Stand up. Face your fears head on and stop trying to conquer your demons. Instead, let us cultivate a rich and deep soul. And when we are ready to take the steps required, decide to change our lives. Don’t keep walking alone and pretending that if you just don’t say “it” out loud that somehow “it” just doesn’t exist.
Identify how you feel. Yes, feel. Access what you need. Yes, NEED. And most of all, reach out for support and join a group of men who – like you – are ready to change their life. You were not made to do this alone. It is time to kill doubt and build conviction.