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Disposable

Are males disposable?

About a year ago, I listened to a very well done series called the Evolutionary Man Summit.  Michael Dowd, a former Unitarian Universalist preacher, that I had the pleasure of hearing in person a few years ago, comments in the series that men are raised to be disposable.

I grew up with movies portraying men storming the beach in Normandy, read The Red Badge of Courage, and was generally encouraged to play football and sacrifice my body for the good of the team.  This year marks the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, and I can still remember the movie with the orchestra men playing as the ship sunk. These men, along with the rest of us, were conditioned to be disposable. Not a single man I know would question the concept of “women and children first”. It is simply a given that men must “man up,” play the role of provider, and if need be, sacrifice themselves for the “weaker” members of society.

For generations men have gone off to war, stuffed our feelings deep inside of us, work long hours to provide for our families, and then at the age of 55, 60, or 65 we are told by the people we long served that we are no longer required. Our children are grown; our wives have gone on spiritual, economic, or educational journeys and are now independent and much better suited for a softer, kinder, gentler, more cooperative world than we are. We have spent our lives driven by purpose and industry, yet now there are no roadmaps, no markers upon which to define our next steps, no way to claim our progress. In short, we are left drifting in a society that seems to suddenly have no place for us.

At the exact time in history when collaboration and cooperation are becoming the requirement, male baby boomers are now able to embody those tenants thanks to lower hormone levels and reduced strength caused by the natural aging process.  Yet most of us have no idea of how to change, becoming bitter and lamenting what we used to be able to do.

At this time what are the choices? Do we become more feminine, more care giving?  Do we become bitter, resentful, “curmudgeony” and say *&(^ off to the world? Do we bore people with stories of how life used to be?  Do we become brain dead with alcohol and escape?  Or do we re-invent ourselves because in our hearts we know that we are not disposable?

I believe that the generation of men who first became supportive of equal rights for minorities and equal rights for women must now embrace the concept of equal rights for men.  We must acknowledge that we have the right to do what we want to do for ourselves.  The self-limiting problem with this idea is that we feel guilty. We have internalized concepts such as the glass ceiling and the exploitation of women. We have come to believe that our gender was responsible for the creation of the patriarchal society in which we now live.

But man alone did not create the patriarchy. Men and women co-created it. As Michael Dowd teaches “no group of men got together and said lets create monogamy!” It is time for men to “man up” and create a world in which men and women are both responsible for and to one another in partnership. This must include a man’s right to do what he feels is right for himself. The right to identify and follow his purpose, the right to live on core with his true being, and not as society tells him he must live. I believe that the only thing stopping men from doing just that – is other men.  Men do not like confronting other men and admitting that they like the ballet, or find “chick flicks” entertaining, or enjoy a trip to the art museum.  Bring up that subject here in Pittsburgh and the conversation will shift to “how ‘bout those Steelers” faster than Madonna can change her identity.

Life 3.0 for men is all about owning the shift in values that has occurred and accepting that life is different now than how it used to be. It’s about saying “I am now finally going to own and enjoy my life.” The key is to have the courage to find a new path, a different way of being, and not being afraid or embarrassed to find and then to own it.  I used to be a senior executive and that was very rewarding, both financially and for my ego. Now I am a certified professional coach, which is a lot less financially lucrative but much more personally gratifying.

As a coach working with men and women looking to find their core beliefs and build an authentic life that can be enjoyed well into their eighties and nineties, I first had to become willing to say to other men that yes, I am a coach. I had to be okay saying that I work with spiritual beings in a human existence working to have a gratifying and fulfilling life.  Why was this difficult for me?  Quite simply, because I was conditioned by my family and friends to believe that only sissies go to church and spirituality is a fairy tale. Because of this mentality, I started to focus only on the business ventures that we can create and not the adventures that we can live in all of our ventures; be they business, volunteer efforts or our personal lives. It has been a process for me to move past this and realize that I am a spiritual being. It’s a process I ask my clients to go through now as well to truly get in touch with who they really are, and to find out what they really want.

So to people like me that have been disposable for fifty or sixty years, it is now time to claim your special place in the universe. It is time to discover exactly what you want to do with the rest of your life and then go do it. My guess is that your true identity is not as being your wife’s personal shopping partner or playing golf with friends who talk incessantly about how great they used to be. It is time to do something bodaciously interesting and enjoyable for only one person – YOU.  Find a way of finding it – it is time to stop “keep on keeping on” and start leading the life you were born to live.

 

Creating your OnCore Venture

I have talked a lot about discovery in this blog as a way to provide some background information about who I am, and what my belief system is.  I am a firm believer in authenticity – my own and yours.  As a certified professional coach, I help people create the life they were born to live, at home and at work; which incidentally, to me are now one and the same.

Earlier this week, I introduced the topic of Wellness, which I believe to be a core component of living an OnCore Life.  Today we begin the discussion of creating your OnCore Venture.  As we say in the “about us” page, wellness and ventures go hand in hand.  Core to both is an honest, on-going discovery process.  I will continue to talk here about mine, and also allow others to share their stories in this space.

In deciding on your venture, where do you begin? Recently I shared that I tried making Photography my life after moving on from my Life 2.0 senior executive career. After a while however, I found that path lacking – those hoodoo’s in the photo above are not found in either eastern or western Pennsylvania.  I had arrived there by listening to the voices in my head (we sometimes like to call this intuition but it can be tricky), yet only discussed it with my spouse.  Now, my wife is very aware and supportive, but as a couple, well, we can be like all couples – both dysfunctional and delusional. Hindsight being what it is, I see now that this was merely a stepping stone in a more fulfilling, authentic journey.

I suspect that the way I finally found my OnCore venture is similar for most people. It is a process of interacting with others, getting out of one’s own head, and showing up in new places.  Davidji of the Chopra Center, teaches us to “ask the questions, live the answers.”  The universe is an abundant place and the answers come through synchronicity.  Yes, I started asking what is my purpose in my daily mediation practice, but it was in living the answers that people first started asking if was a coach, and then began telling me that yes, I am a coach.

I share with you what worked for me and what my clients are telling me also works for them. I found my answer for what is evolving into a fulfilling life through a practice of daily mediation, a plain and simple western interpretation of the more rigid eastern principles.  Davidji also teaches that at the Chopra Center “we are not Ayurvedic fundamentalists.” Applied to a daily mediation practice, this means go ahead and be comfortable.  Sit in a comfortable chair. Relax. If you want to stare at a wall and be smacked on the back of the head, by all means, go to a Buddhist Center. But if you want to be comfortable, relax and tune into what the universe is saying to you, find a comfortable place and start asking the questions “Who am I?,” “ What do I want?,” and “What is my purpose?” on a daily basis.

I began my own mediation practice through a Chopra center 21 day mediation challenge. The principle being that if you do something for 21 days it becomes a practice or habit.  Before making a decision on whether or not to try this, realize that it is fundamentally a way of learning to be comfortable with yourself.  Learning to be still. Once you can be still in the silence of meditation, you can then learn to bring that quietness and calm to all areas of your reality. From there, the possibilities are limitless. I came to understand that the thousands of thoughts which enter my mind everyday do not need to be dwelled on. They enter and leave of their own volition. It is my mind that holds on to them and worries about them. I now choose to just let them be.

As you begin to mediate, then start to ask your friends and family what you should do with the rest of your life. If they are like mine, they will not tell you what you really need to hear. If this is the case, find a group of people that will hold your agenda in their hearts and minds as they engage with you in these discussions.

At OnCore Ventures, we conduct monthly Life 3.0 Mastermind groups to discuss how people are transitioning from their current life of working for a living to a new way of launching the work/life they were born to live.

We have a limited number of openings for our July group which meets weekly for one hour on Wednesday evenings at 7:30 PM, beginning on July 11. Participation in the group is free, although there are two required pre-reading assignments. For more information reach out to me at Mastermind, and in the meantime please treat yourself and sign up for a 21 day meditation challenge.  The last one offered was a mind-body odyssey that my life partner and I found to be a refreshing renewal.

What you can expect to get out of the Mastermind group is a clear cut group of options for what your OnCore Venture can be – whether it is to say in play in your current job and change the way that you show up, find a business to create or buy, focus on enjoying your hobby, watching your grandchildren, shopping for the elderly or going back to school.  You will work with others just like you to figure out what’s next for you.

The Shift

Yes it is 2012, but we are not talking about December of 2012 and the shift of the planet.  The shift is what Dr. Wayne Dwyer calls the moment when we realize that something inside of us has changed and we can never again approach life in the same way.

For me, the shift occurred in 2006 in Death Valley, California.  I had spent the month of December 2005 on airplanes – flying twice from New Jersey to Chicago, squeezing a trip from New Jersey to Singapore to Manila to Singapore to Malaysia, back to Singapore and then home to New Jersey in between.

When Christmas came – we did not even bother to decorate our home – a tradition that in the past had always been very important to me.  Instead, we decided to fly to Las Vegas for New Year’s, enjoying a few days in the sunshine of Death Valley before kicking off 2006.

While in Death Valley,  a production problem occurred in what I used to think of as the “real world” – my professional responsibility.  At the time, over 150 people reported to me in seven offices across the US and Asia.  A US Marine term about a cluster comes to mind thinking back to this setup. However,  prior to this trip I thought this “real world” was where I belonged.

When I found out about the issue at work – which incidentally should just have been backed out by my staff, effectively eliminating any negative repercussions – I realized that it was like manna from heaven for me. I simply did not care to be living in this “real world” any longer.  The power was an allusion, the respect rendered artificial and capricious. The money was a bubble about to burst – in short – my life was no longer any fun. That hectic, power driven environment simply no longer served me.

Thomas Merton, the American Monk once said that all too often when you climb the ladder of success you find it is leaning against the wrong wall.  I realized this as it was happening and that it was time to move on, shortly there after – I did.

When I related my story to my son a few years later, he asked if I ever enjoyed the life I used to live. To which, I had to admit that for a long time, yes – I did.  The travel, the money, the respect, and the power all mattered greatly.  But to my fifty-six year old human frame in 2006 – it no longer fit.  Why?

I had shifted. I cared about my family and wanted to feel my spiritual self whole and at peace.  I wanted to be authentic, saying what I wanted – not what my boss needed to hear. I wished to no longer be bound by what customers  – all Global 500 corporations – demanded – but what I wanted. I was no longer willing to play the game.  The catch was at that time, I had no idea that all of this turmoil was because I could no longer be the person I had become. It took four years of introspection, isolation and self doubt to arrive at that understanding.

Watching Wayne Dwyer’s movie “The Shift” in 2010 – changed everything.  I realized that Spirituality, Family and Authenticity were my drivers; and that I had only to live according to new rules.

Studying Deepak Chopra’s interpretations of ancient Auyvedic knowledge, I realized that it was completely natural for people like me, in the afternoon of life, what the Hindi’s referred to as the elder phase of life, to want to show up differently. It was now important to me to give to others some of the enormous knowledge and treasure I had been gifted with in my life.

Through all of this, the most profound teaching in my journey has come from Eckhart Tolle – who taught to let go of my sad story and all the pain and suffering that I was holding on to that I believed made me so special. I realized that we all have stories, but we are not our story. Life after the shift is life without that sad story controlling our lives. It is a life that can be joy filled and on purpose if we allow it to be.

When we do this, when we let go, we can look forward to the afternoon and evening of life in the same way that I do when I am at Big Sur, watching the sun get low in the sky. Just knowing the feeling of bliss of the sun sneaking down over the horizon and being replaced by millions of stars in the night sky. This is not a time to retreat and retire but a time to live life fully and with purpose.

Namaste.

Transitions

Life is a series of transitions or transformations. In fact, one of my favorite authors, Inna Segal asserts in her book – “The Secret Language of Your Body” – that we cannot heal ourselves of any illness without making a transformation in ourselves.

Transitions can be both “good” and “bad” in the minds of our western culture. But on an individual level they “just are” – they are part of our life. We are always in transition. Sometimes these transitions are major, and sometimes we have to consciously control them in order to get what we really, really want.

LIfe 3.0 is a transition time for people.  It is the result of a shift that takes us from the householder phase of life – focus on doing, to the elder – or forest dweller phase of life – being.

In his book “Transitions“, written in the seventies, William Bridges talks about the three stages of transitions – and ending phase, a neutral zone and a new beginning.  The ending phase is something that is often not understood.

When I retired from my Life 2.0 career stream, I spend years tailing about being a former senior executive.  I did not want to let go of that “agency peer” of being the guy in charge. It was only when I was able to let it go, and be okay with letting it go that I was able to think clearly about what I wanted to do.

This time spent in the neutral zone for me took five years.  I spent this time for the most part in the forest of my tree enshrouded world and in the practice of photography in nature. It was also a time for me to reclaim the sublimated caregiving side of my persona focusing on being the primary caregiver in my primary relationship with my spouse as she restarted her career. The dual pursuit of my own artistic identity and the reclamation of my suppressed caring side led me to the balance that I needed to have internally to make a new beginning.

That new beginning came to me front others in the form of people at a seminar that I attend in January of last year who asked me “Are you a coach?”.  If I had not processed the five years of time in the quiet of the neutral zone – I would have asked them if they were crazy.  Instead be the end of that seminar, I knew in my being that I was meant to be a professional coach and I enrolled in a coaching training program so I could define my new beginning.

Most people, unlike me, do not have five years to do this on their own.  In order to do the work while they are still living in the Life 2.0 world that they created, they need to find the things that they need to let go of. Even in my quest I did this ultimately through my daily meditation practice which stared with “Who am I?”  Then, by asking “What do I really, really want?” – I began to get a sense for what I did not want – the clutter in my life that was stopping me from moving forward. Finally as the clutter was removed, and I decided what I wanted, my third question – “what is my purpose?” was answered and I could determine that my new beginning is.

Transitions

Life 3.0 is our definition for the third phase of life.  According to a book that I am reading on Transitions – called  “Transitions: Making Sense of Life’s Changes” by William Bridges – in the Hindi tradition there were four phases of life.  These phases were referred to by many names, but they consist of :

  • The Student – that period of time from 12 to 24 focused on learning and discovering our role in society – it was a period of probation or training and included an apprenticeship
  • The Householder – the period of time from 24 to 48 – a time of self sacrifice for others in society – a time for raising children
  • The Elder Advisor – also know as Forest Dweller – the period of time from 48 to 72 – a time for reflection and to discover who am I
  • Sannyasin – beyond 72 and is a period of time when one emerges from the forest understanding who I am – a time of wisdom and a time for reflection and preparation for the end of life

Today, we are living longer, and the ages have been pushed back for many of us, but we still yearn for that Forest Dwelling phase of life.  It is curious – in his book, Bridges glosses over this phase and sees it as an extension of the householder phase.  Others, including teachers like Dr. Wayne Dwyer believe differently.  They believe that “A Shift” occurs at some point in the life of an adult and all of a sudden life can not be lived as it was.

Carl Jung, the famous psychologist wrote – ”One can not live in the afternoon of life according to the program of life’s morning; for what was great in importance in the morning will be of little importance in the evening and what in the morning was true will at evening have become a lie”

Unfortunately, for many of us in America, we feel stuck in our careers – even though they no longer fit our needs.  Inside of us a fire burns and calls us into the forest.  OnCore Ventures’ Life and Career Review Programs helps individuals, couples and groups to discover life’s purpose and find a way to contribute to society in this very valuable phase of life, that we believe lasts from about 55 to 85.

A Life or Career Review will help who determine if you have shifted and introduce you to the process of Discovery.