May 8, 2009

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A Homecoming of Sorts


I had the tremendously gratifying pleasure of traveling to Vancouver last weekend for the annual leadership meeting of my men’s’ organization MDI — Men’s Divisions International — admittedly a horrible name but it is what is.  What made the weekend so gratifying — besides the weather and the fact that we were tucked away in the mountains alongside some inlet amidst nature at its best — is that it served as a sort of a homecoming for two distinct groups of men. 

On the one hand were the men of MDI, 35 of us representing another 1000 men spread out across North America.  We as leaders of the organization get together twice a year to plot next steps and retool and adjust our vision to ensure that we continue to create an environment “unconditionally committed to men winning.” 

The purpose of MDI is rather simple:

 Causing greatness by mentoring men to live their lives with excellence as mature masculine leaders who create great families, careers and communities. 

As I’ve spoken on these pages we adhere to a Code of Honor and strive to uphold four simple core values — Integrity, commitment, trust and service.  All well and good but none of this can breath if we are not looking to bring it out to the world.

Which brings me to the second group of men, the men of Vancouver.  About 60 strong with connections to men in Victoria and throughout British Columbia.  They have been operating under the banner of the Rolling Thunder Tribe.  I had the opportunity to visit with them in January, fell in love with their sense of community, spirit and commitment to one another and worked to have the MDI leadership meeting on their turf.  They were not members of our organization, so in short we were trusting them to take care of us.  We paid the freight for the meeting and they provided the sweat equity to make it happen.

We did our work and they played witness and on Saturday night we came together and celebrated.

What made the weekend so impactful is that some 10 years earlier under the auspices of another organization, the men of Vancouver were unceremoniously banished.  I wasn’t there, I played no part in any of it and I have no idea what any of it was about.  However, some of the men currently in the leadership of MDI were around back then and they continued to harbor guilt about what happened.  There were also some men in Vancouver who were around back then and to their credit they did not seem to be harboring any lingering resentment towards us.  Suspicion maybe, but not overt resentment.  My sense was they were kind of happy where they were as a tribe of 60 and with what they had.  Things were going just fine for them and they were skeptical about buying into something bigger.  We on the other hand desperately wanted them to buy into our vision and join us.  Not because bigger is better but because for some men, their “memory palace” kept conjuring up images of Vancouver that was distinctly a part of who they had become but there was this glass wall that was keeping them from fully embracing that memory.

So I got to witness this weird “mating” rite amongst alpha males.  Unlike the typical dance, there was no overt effort to dominate the other males.  Rather there was a willingness to expose our collective underbelly to the men of Vancouver and essentially say, “While we may be vulnerable, we are certainly not weak”.  The men saw it, were moved by it and made a decision to come play in a bigger sandbox. 

I am not sure that I am fully conveying the impact this weekend had on the men who were there but this weekend taught me volumes about the art of attraction.  You attract others not by showing how smart, strong or powerful you are – although that all works brilliantly for short term relationships – rather you get there through humility.  While we all think we want to surround ourselves with men better than us in the hopes that some of it will rub off, I suspect we all just want to be around men who not just “get us” but get those things we secretly long for.  What makes it all the more amazing is how easy it was to be together, most men were meeting each other for the first time.  It was like all those stories you hear about about twins who were seperated at birth and who stumble upon each other in adulthood and instantly feel comfortable in each other’s presence.   It is possible to share spiritual DNA.


So to my brothers in arms in the Rolling Thunder Tribe, I look forward to continuing the dance.


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