Let’s Talk About Fear…

Let’s talk about “Fear.” How can Fear help? Here’s how: Facing Fear is the key, if only for today, of moving forward. We need to face up to Fear. So, first, let’s talk about Fear. Our Fear could be lingering Fear left over from something that has happened in the past. Or, it could be Fear caused by questionable conditions in the present.

Connection Busting Behaviors

How we behave has a huge impact on the quality of our connection with both self and others.  In this post, I am going to explore two classes of behaviors: those that deepen connection and those that tend to bust connection wide open. Let’s start by making a list of some of those behaviors:

Archetype vs. Stereotype

Archetype and stereotype are sometimes confused terms. But for writers, the differences between them are significant. While one can make your story stronger, the other can ruin it. Do you know the difference? Let’s start with definitions. When creating characters, archetype is the model from which your character is created. In art terms, archetype is the medium: oils, chalk, or charcoal for example. But from that, the artist creates the masterpiece. From archetype, the writer builds an individual character. There are some common archetypes throughout literature, such as the Unwilling Hero (Frodo Baggins, Harry Potter) or the Willing Hero (Eragon, … Continue reading

About ConneXions

Watch this short video interview with Bob Jones, the creator of the ConneXions Workshops to get a clearer sense of what the workshop is about and why Bob created it. Bob shares his personal mission and how his mission helped inform the creation of this workshop. This is the first in what will be a collection of short video clips interviewing Bob and the other members of the team. At our next offering, we plan to capture some live testimonials from participants as well.

On Seeking Mind

I have been fortunate to have many mentors in my life, people who have pushed me, prodded me, challenged me and loved me fiercely. One of them is Mike Elser, past president of The Mankind Project USA who is also a Rinzai Zen Priest. We meet online most weeks for one hour and talk about various aspects of my life. In our conversation earlier this week, he did a piece of “Voice Dialogue” with me. He asked to speak with my “Seeking Mind”. I knew immediately that part of me which is constantly seeking, driven by both curiosity and by … Continue reading

Guilt

guilt

Guilt is a healthy emotion that informs you that you have made a mistake. Guilt is healthy because it confirms that you have a moral compass. The only people who cannot feel guilt are psychopaths, so be thankful if you can feel guilt. Guilt is closely related to shame, but the difference is stark. Guilt informs you that you MADE a mistake, while shame tells you that you ARE a mistake. Guilt is also connected with accountability which involves agreements with others, and integrity which defines your own moral compass and how you see yourself. According to Susan Krauss’ article, “The Definitive … Continue reading

Vulnerability

Do you believe that if you are vulnerable, others will think you are weak and they will take advantage of you? Every time I sit in circle with other men and women, this toxic belief surfaces its ugly head. Brene Brown is a college professor who has studied vulnerability and shame and produced some of the most popular talks on Ted.com. In this talk, she is back, talking about the price of invulnerability.

Old Bones

Old Bones: When I was a teenager, I resented my father for being harsh and domineering. Years of forgiveness and my own experience as a father have helped to soften that perspective. He passed away eleven years ago. Recently, my own harsh and domineering side come up again in a situation regarding youth behavior. I still have an old bone that comes out to be chewed upon from time to time. I suppose that reason why it comes up, once again, is to forgive, once again. As I think of Dad, I also think of duty and obligation. However, forgiveness … Continue reading

50 Years Ago Today…

This post marks a milestone in my life and describes part of my journey from head to heart. On June 6th, 1967, exactly 50 years ago today, I started a job as a computer operator trainee. On my second day on the job, my boss handed me a COBOL manual and said, “Learn it. As soon as you write your first program, I will give you a $10 per week raise.” I got the raise two weeks later and have been writing computer programs ever since. In the half century since then, I have watched the computer industry grow up. … Continue reading

The Only Constant… Change

I have had a very busy week with lots of changes afoot. Some are external like diving into Facebook or leading a Primary Integration Training for 17 men last weekend… or a Welcome Home ceremony for 10 men in Bellingham last night. But there is a deeper change I feel creeping up on me. In January of this year, I decided to stop making money as a programmer. I still program (I have to to maintain this website), but I decided to follow my passion and develop and teach my ConneXions Intensive workshops. This meant taking a big risk. I … Continue reading

Do You Want Deeper Connections?

I believe that one of the core needs that everyone shares is the need to connect deeply and authentically with ourselves, with each other and with a sense of purpose. Sadly, we are living in a world of increasing disconnection and separation, behind our many masks. We have become addicted to screens on our phones and desktops and have lost that joy of face-to-face connection. I watched a movie last night titled “The Mask You Live In” and I was profoundly disturbed by its message. It describes in painful detail how young men have been trained by culture, parents, peers … Continue reading

Bellingham ConneXions Intensive Huge Success

The first ConneXions Intensive was held on April 28-30 at Anderson Creek Lodge outside Bellingham, WA. It was a huge success. Here are some of the things the participants had to say about it.“I was amazed by the deep dive into all of the material presented, including the additional resources offered with the connexions.world Website, and I look forward to participating in the ongoing community of ConneXions attendees!” – Dan G

Free Assessments – Use With Caution

Want to know your IQ or how emotionally mature you are in just a few minutes? I have added a new page that contains links to various types of free assessments that will help you know yourself better. The page is http://connexions.world/assessments/. From Archetypes to Shadow Assessments, all of these are free. Some will take you 20 to 30 minutes to take and some you can complete in under five minutes. Caution: Don’t believe the answers from any one test. I took three different Enneagram assessments and came up with three different answers. So be skeptical, but also be curious. … Continue reading

My First Awakening

Waking up begins with becoming aware that we have been asleep. It is different for everyone. My awakening began when I met Jeannie on a bus coming back from a ski trip to Stowe Vermont.She was sweet and real in a way I had never encountered before. When I returned to Detroit, we started writing letters to each other. Hers were so deeply honest and emotionally transparent that I fell deeply in love with her. At the time, I was working for Chrysler Corporation, developing a complex computer program and Jeanie’s letters touched a place in me that nobody else … Continue reading

Shifting Gears

In June, 2015 I responded to a Quora post asking, “Why aren’t there a lot of old programmers at software companies?” My post was viewed over 650,000 times and “upvoted” over 7,000 times. I just heard today from a dear friend who spotted a Huffington Post article. He guessed that it might have been from me and he was right. Go figure! It’s the same post. I reread the post and realized that some of my specific goals have changed, but that the general arc of my life remains the same… moving from my head into my heart.

On The Eve of Destruction

My first ConneXions Workshop is scheduled to start in less than three weeks and I have only five people signed up. I have an interesting challenge facing me: bootstrapping a whole new business where I am responsible for 100% of the deliverables which include the website, the email campaigns, the course content and the event logistics and marketing. I feel a bit like Sisyphus pushing the rock uphill, but I am the one who chose the hill and the rock. I feel a bit of overwhelm on a pretty regular basis, and that should not be a surprise. At the … Continue reading

Emotional Maturity

Growing up is about developing Emotional Intelligence (understanding of human emotions) and Emotional Maturity (EM), the ability to use and apply Emotional Intelligence (EI) to connect more deeply and authentically with yourself and others. Peter Vajda does a wonderful job of explaining the process of growing up in his article on Emotional Intelligence and Emotional Maturity. In his article, he points out that although Emotional Intelligence is important, the real work lies in applying EI to the process of growing up by realizing that many of the coping challenges we face as adults lie in the experiences we had as … Continue reading

Shame and Guilt

I have staffed over 40 Mankind Project New Warrior Training Adventure weekends and helped initiate over 1,000 men into mature manhood. The theme that I see over and over is some variation on, “I am not good enough, not worthy, not lovable”. I kept asking myself, what is this all about? Where does this toxic belief come from? Several years ago, I discovered Brene Brown’s, “Listening to Shame” which has now been viewed on Ted.com over 7,000,000 times. There’s a clue here. Paraphrasing Brene Brown, the messages I kept hearing are shaming messages. They echo a core belief that says “I … Continue reading

Getting Clear

There is a process we use in our men’s work called a “Clearing”. In this process, we separate data, judgments and feelings, then look for shadows that may cause us to project an unhealed wound onto someone else. A clearing may be needed if, for example I yada yada yada Although a clearing can be done with an empty chair, it is most effective if it is done with the person I have the charge with. Let’s call that person my “Mirror”, because they are the target of my projections. And yes, virtually all clearings are about projection. There are … Continue reading

Data, Judgments and Feelings

In resolving conflict, it is useful to separate or parse the active elements involved in the conflict. These elements can be broken into four groups: Data – the facts of the situation. The “objective truth” that can be easily agreed upon. An example would be, “The temperature outside is 60 degrees” or “We have $2,000 in our bank account.” Judgments – the thoughts and beliefs I have about the situation. Judgments are not data and judgments are not feelings. Using the data examples, judgments would be “It’s cold outside” and “We are running out of money”. These are personal interpretations … Continue reading

Judgment

The difference between a judgment and a discernment is really quite simple. A discernment is something I see dispassionately and clearly without any emotional charge. I may or may not be correct in what I see, but I am able to hold it very lightly. There is a quality of detached curiosity to my discernment. Judgment, on the other hand always has an associated charge or trigger. If I have a judgment, it is highly probable that my defenses have kicked in and that I have a strong feeling in my body. Judgment is toxic to connection. A simple example that … Continue reading

The Victim Triangle

The Victim Triangle The Victim Triangle (also known as the Karpman Drama Triangle) is a simple but profoundly useful way of looking at dysfunctional relationships in action. I was introduced to this model by Garth Alley who was my counselor in the late 1990’s. He used it to describe what was happening between me and my partner. I would get upset with something she said or did and wanted her to change her behavior.  I blamed her for something and she tried to turn it around and blame it on me. I didn’t realize it at the time, but blame … Continue reading

Self-Awareness

How is being aware different from being conscious? The term “Consciousness” has been defined as “Anything that we are aware of at a given moment“, however there is no real consensus among philosophers and psychologists about what consciousness is. Rather than try to engage in this battle, I am going to stay with the simpler concept of awareness. I can be aware of my internal feeling state (angry, depressed, happy, etc.) and I can be aware of external phenomena like the weather or problems with my house that need fixing.  I may be aware that the the weather report today says that … Continue reading

Conflict Resolution

My wife and I have been married for over 40 years, and we have had countless conflicts in that time. And we are still happily married and quite in love with each other. What’s our secret? It’s simple. Here are some basic principles that have worked well for us: Fight to resolve, not to hurt. Remember that I can be right or I can be in relationship. I can’t have both. Hang in there, Drop my defenses. Own my shit. Fight to Resolve Conflict in a relationship is not a zero-sum game. It should never be about winning. Instead, conflict … Continue reading

Integrity

Accountability is about keeping an agreement I make with someone else. Integrity is about keeping an agreement I make with myself. Accountability is external to myself while integrity is internal. Wikipedia defines Integrity as “The quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness. It is generally a personal choice to hold oneself to consistent moral and ethical standards.” I define integrity as the alignment of my thoughts, words and actions. What happens when accountability and integrity clash? Let me answer this with a story. In October, 2004 I staffed a Mankind Project New Warrior Training Adventure (NWTA) … Continue reading

Forgiveness

In more than 40 years of marriage, I have made plenty of mistakes. My partner may have made a few too, but that’s for her to decide, but if I think she has made some mistakes, I have a choice to make: do I want to hang on to my judgments about the mistakes I believe she has made… or not? Jack Kornfeld is a well known Buddhist teacher. He defines forgiveness as “Giving up all hope for a better past“. I think this is a very wise and useful perspective. In essence, it echos the Eagles song, “Get Over It!“ … Continue reading