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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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 (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
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
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
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
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
A number of years ago, I was traveling to a Mankind Project New Warrior Training Adventure on Vancouver Island in Canada with three other men who were helping to staff the weekend. We got to the Canadian border and the border patrol officer started asking our driver a number of questions. We were ordered to park and enter the administrative building for further questioning. Ultimately our driver was ordered to turn around, but the rest of us were allowed to continue… without our driver’s car. I called my wife who was at work in Bellingham and asked her to drive … Continue reading
Shadow is some part of me that I hide from you and even from myself. In Star Wars lingo, shadow is referred to as “The Dark Side”. Both Freud and Jung defined shadow, but they defined it differently. Wikipedia gives a good definition of Jungian shadow. Another way to describe shadow is conveyed by the Johari Window. The Open Self is the part of me that I know about and you can see. The Blind Self is the part of me that I cannot see but you can. Typically, the blind self show up in relationship with others. My wife … Continue reading
I was interviewed in early March, 2016 by Alise Cortez in her “Working on Purpose” show on the Voice of America. We talked about my life as a programmer and my experiences with the Mankind Project. The interview aired on March 16th, 2016. Here is a description of that interview. Introduction (by Alise Cortez) The 1960s women’s movement was of monumental importance to advance the conscious development of women. But what response did it evoke in men? Where do men derive their sense of connection and meaning in today’s times? And how do men navigate their lives against the backdrop of … Continue reading
In 1990, I was hired by Microsoft as a Director of their Core Consulting Team for Microsoft Consulting Services. I sold my house in San Jose and moved my family to Redmond, WA in September and dove in. It didn’t take me long to realize that the powerful currents at Microsoft were pulling me under and I was into a political situation that was way over my head. My boss also realized that his team wasn’t working well, so the whole bunch of us went off for a weekend to do some “team building”. During the weekend, something profound happened … Continue reading
It’s Monday morning and I am in re-entry. I completed a very intense training this past weekend and I am still in a bit of an altered state. The training is called LT3 (Leadership Training 3) and is the capstone of the MKP leader training programs. I felt considerable growth and clarity as a result of the weekend. On Friday evening, we did a process and I granted myself license to try something different. The leader gave me some tough but insightful feedback later that evening and I could feel myself starting to spiral downward… into the rabbit hole of … Continue reading
I attend yoga every Sunday morning that I can because Paul Millage bookends the yoga asanas with kirtan and afterwards many of us sit in circle and explore the spiritual aspects of yoga and our lives. In this morning’s circle, a young woman with tears in her eyes asked us to pray for the people in Israel and Palestine.
Shift Happens I ordered some clothing from a website in April and by early June, most of the order was still missing. I was angry with the vendor and had some pretty clear judgments about the obvious problems with his business so I called him today and brother, what a lesson I learned. I told the man in clear terms that there were real problems with his business, and his response was, “Yes, and I am the problem.” “How is that?” I asked.
(With thanks to my wife, Donna for the title and the poem) I awoke this morning feeling fuzzy and low energy and started the day slowly by listening to Krishna Das sing Kirtan. The phone rang, jolting me from my peaceful reverie. It was Ron Roesler reaching out to help me plan and pull together the Second Annual Gathering of the Tribes, an event I am leading that will take place in just over a month.
As of June 6, 2014, I will have been a computer programmer for 47 years. I estimate that I have written over three million lines of computer code in a plethora of programming languages, many of them long dead. But who gives a shit? Sure, programming has paid the rent… at least most of the time. But will anybody actually look at and really read the code I have spent so much of my life writing? Probably not. So what really matters?
One of my earliest childhood memories was sitting at the top of the stairs listening to my father yell at my mother and hearing her scream as he hit her. I felt helpless and scared and I promised myself I would never do this to my children. I took in a message that men with power will hurt people. I feared my own power. I didn’t want to hurt others. I gave my power away whenever I could. I feared leadership, but time and again
Last June at the Gathering of the Tribes event, I declared myself to be a “Community Elder”. Even though there is no such role defined within The Mankind Project, the term seemed to resonate with many men. In this post, I attempt to define my vision a bit further.
The Mankind Project (MKP) is changing the world, one man at a time. It teaches us men to wake up, grow up and stand up in missions of service. The New Warrior Training Adventure (NWTA) created in 1985 by an educator, a therapist and an ex-marine, has initiated close to 50,000 men around the world into a world of the mature masculine.
In September, 2013, I staffed my 33rd NWTA weekend. I am considered a senior staffer, one who knows the weekend quite well. I was asked by the weekend leader to step onto the leader track for the weekend because he didn’t think there were enough experienced men. I have staffed with this leader before and it worked quite well, so I stepped on as a leader in training (LIT)… for this weekend only.
I was initiated as an MKP New Warrior at Camp Melacoma in November, 2001 and I have been active in MKP ever since. I became a certified PIT leader in the Puget Sound Community by around 2006, joined the MKP I-Group Council and lead the rewrite of what is now the MKP PIT manual. I have done 32 (or 33) NWTA staffing, been on the Leader Track twice (busted myself both times) and considered Ritual Elder, but it just didn’t call to me. I started an I-Group in Bellingham in early 2002 and it is still meeting every week and … Continue reading