As Men’s Health Week runs between 15 to 21st June its an ideal time to pose a question just to the blokes. Are you living your own career and business truth, calling and passions? Or are you living someone else’s? asks Sue Parker founder of DARE Group Australia.
Perhaps they are those of your culture, family, friends, partners, workplaces or the society you live in. The purpose of this challenging question to men is three-fold: to confront and encourage vulnerable conversations and give men permission to share their truth.
How do we observe the level of kids are full of curiosity and their unbridled dreamscape of what their careers and future life may be. Often it is played out in reality in some way and often it is the reverse and worse, as life and crap happen along the way.
The core inner self and knowing who we are and what gives us joy is generally consistent throughout life. But unfortunately, those dreamscapes and passions are often ignored and buried as adulthood takes hold for many men (and women too for different and similar reasons)
Challenging questions are designed to prod and encourage vulnerable conversations. Often shame holds men back from stepping up. In the seminal book Man Unplugged, John Broadbent explores what it means to be a man, society stereotypes and how men can live fulfilling and connected lives.
Johns reflects the journey is a pivotal one to reflect on the issues men face in life which may be unfulfilling and detrimental on many levels. He also looks at the impact of mental health on men who are disconnected from self and purpose. It is an essential and inspiring read, for both men and women.
Business Dreams Uncovered
Over many years as a business and executive career coach I have sadly observed that the answer to my opening question to many men is met with sadness and regret. My next question of “If I had a magic wand over your career and life what would you wish for“ is met by a fair degree of confusion. Blokes can be truly stumped as their eyes glaze upwards to the ceiling and shoulders slouch downwards to the floor.
I observe far too many blokes filled with fear when attempting to connect with and express their deeper truths and career-life aspirations Men are so often imprisoned in ingrained belief systems and dogma – both of their own and others/societies making.
Social & Cultural Expectations
Most men are bought up to believe that: they must really achieve and succeed, make big $$ money, be a strong leader, be in control, take it on the chin, man up, not display any emotion or workplace empathy etc. And as a consequence, many are following a career or business ownership path that deep inside may be pure torture. They are often burnt out, depressed and incredibly dissatisfied.
The list of beliefs and ‘must not do and not be’ both consciously and sub-consciously for men is vast. It is entrenched across all ages, industries and occupations. I see it all the way from top tier corporate CEOs to plumbing sub-contractors. I see too many men grappling with and denying themselves a job or business path that they really want. And current social issues, aberrations and legalities can create additional fear into men as they consider changes. But to add some balance I also observe many men sitting very happily in a place of true business ownership authenticity or career alignment.
How do men start taking that leap of faith to unpack?
It’s both an exciting and difficult process to dive deeply into your WHO, WHAT, WHERE & WHY? It requires courage to take yourself off the ‘expectation hook’ and give yourself permission to be real and authentic. It’s asking yourself a heap of questions and reflecting on the answers without any judgement.
At the end of every question, the WHY is the lynchpin. Questions are always the answers. You are on a mission to discover who you are, or perhaps have forgotten. Embracing a ‘reality not a value judgement focus’ is key.
Starting Conversation Points
Take a bowl of courage and a pen reflection on the following process:
WHO are you? What is your true character, personality, life and business values, core beliefs? Hobbies, things that really excite you, lifestyle, community engagement, mannerisms, style/look, dress presentation, types of people you enjoy etc. And WHY?
WHAT are your current career skills, education? What do you like and dislike about what work you do? What are you great at doing and what gives your joy? What would you like to learn about and explore? What keeps you awake at night for yourself and others And WHY?
WHERE – the Magic Wand (no holds barred). Where would you really like your career and business life to be? Where would that magic wand take you? This question is not about the end result it’s to connect with your authentic self and truth. And WHY
HOW – would you like people to remember you and know about you? And WHY
As you reflect on the answers you will begin to connect, re-align and or confirm some of your career truths. You may also realise that you have lived a career that is not what you wanted at all.
Or you may realise a new-found passion for your current situation. And it’s absolutely fine to be and do whatever you want to be and do. Follow what gives you fulfilment.
Over the last 4 months of COVID, economic and business challenges many are already reconsidering their next career or business (via necessity or choice)
And so we must continue to take a village to support approach and give men permission to share and own their personal vulnerability, business and career truth. The benefits will impact every area of life – business, health, economics and home.