A few questions just for the blokes.
Are you living your own business, career or professional purpose and truth?
Or are you living the business direction and vocation foisted upon you by others, or your own limitations and fears?
Have family, friends, partners, your culture or your environment confined and thwarted your direction?
What were the professional directions or businesses that you did or did not pursue?
These challenging questions directed just to the blokes are intended to encourage meaningful conversations.
After working as a business and career coach for more than 16 years with hundreds of men (aged 25 to 65) I have been witness to the deep regrets and reluctance that hold many back from authenticity and happiness.
In Man Unplugged, John Broadbent explores what it means to be a man, society stereotypes and how men can live fulfilling and connected lives. The journey outlined is a pivotal one to reflect on the issues men face in life which may be unfulfilling and detrimental on many levels. It also looks at the impact of mental health on men who are disconnected from self and purpose.
As kids, we are full of excitement of an unfettered dreamscape of what our careers and futures could be. Sometimes those hopes and dreams are realised, other times, they die on the vine as life delivers twists and turns.
Yet, our core inner selves and an awareness of what provides joy are generally consistent throughout life. For many men, those hopes and dreams may be buried or dismissed as frivolous as adulthood and expectations take hold.
I have also observed answers to these questions being met with much sadness and regret. I then asked: ‘If I waved a magic wand over your career and life what would you wish for?’ This follow-up question is likewise met with confusion or sorrow. Many men are truly stumped as their eyes glaze upwards to the ceiling and shoulders slouch downwards to the floor.
I have also seen many men filled with trepidation when attempting to connect with and express their deeper truths and career-life aspirations. It’s often a sense that they don’t always feel they have the right to rethink their business direction. It can feel like being trapped inside ingrained belief systems and rules imposed by others and themselves.
While these types of questions absolutely can and do apply to women also, the fact is that men do face different issues and expectations than women. And similarly, women face different issues and expectations than men (addressed in a future article).
It’s tacit that men in most cultures are generally raised with the belief they must attain great success, be high achievers, make lots of money, be strong, stay in control, take it on the chin, man up, not display any emotion empathy, and the list goes on.
And, as a consequence, many are following a career path and direction that can be mildly unfulfilling at best, to absolute daily torture at worst.
The social constraints of what men must do and not do are vast, both consciously and sub-consciously. And it’s evident across all ages, industries and occupations. It impacts everyone, from top ASX company executives to tradesmen. Current societal issues, aberrations and legalities can also create additional fear into men as they consider a new direction.
And for balance, let’s also be clear there are thousands of men sitting very happily in a place of true business authenticity and career purpose. You can see, feel and hear the alignment
How can men take a leap?
It’s both an exciting and confronting process to dive into your values, hopes and purpose. It requires courage to give permission to ditch dogma and expectations. It’s asking yourself honest questions and ruminating on answers without any judgement. At the end of every question, the ‘why’ is the linchpin. Questions are always the answers. The goal is to reconnect and discover who you are and consider change if appropriate.
It’s simple but effective to review the following.
- Who are you? What is your true character, personality? What are your life and business values, core beliefs and hobbies? What energises you? What is your lifestyle, community engagement, mannerisms and style? What sort of people do you enjoy spending time with and working alongside? Why?
- What are your current skills? What do you like and dislike about the work and business you are in now? What work does or could give you real satisfaction and joy? What would you like to learn about and explore? What keeps you awake at night for yourself and others? What are your motivations? What is important to you? Why?
- Where next? The magic wand (no holds barred) is about where would you really like your career and business life to be. This question is not about the end result so much as to connect with your purpose. It gives the roadmap for steering.
- How would you like people to remember you, and for what?
Asking yourself these questions will connect, re-align and confirm your purpose and business truth.
You may realise you are in a career or running a business that is not what you want at all. Or maybe you once did, but things have changed. Or you may unearth a new-found passion for your current business or career. Or you may just need more reflection time to unpack it all.
Follow what gives you fulfilment. Even small steps of change over a period of time matter. Even if it is not viable to fully embrace and implement re-direction now, if that is what is desired, the process has begun. And if you are truly working in your purpose, bottle it and pay it forward.
It takes a village to raise a child and it takes a society to give permission for men to share and own their business and career purpose and passion. Blokes, put on your own oxygen mask first, and then share with other boys and men in your world.