Monday, March 2, 2015

From Skepticism to Opening Up -- Ted Alexander

I’ve never been big on joining groups. Heck, I didn’t either bother with the Cub Scouts. It’s not my style. So when I was approached by a good and longtime friend to consider Men’s Wisdom Works, I viewed the suggestion with a ton of skepticism. To add to my hesitancy, the group had been together for a couple of years. At the very least, I’d be an interloper, not privy to personalities, peculiarities, and undercurrents. I had a vision of the old Burt Reynolds’ movie “Starting Over,” where a bunch of divorced, angry men sat in a circle in a church basement and bitched about their wives, ex-wives and girlfriends.

Initial reaction: Not for me, Jack.

But after some thought, I decided to trust the instincts of my friend, and joined. I wasn’t initially very active in the discussions as I studied the group dynamics, and I know my lack of conversation made some of the guys uncomfortable—minimal participation interpreted as a negative judgment (which was neither intended, nor true).

 I figured in a week or two, they’d kick me out, and that would be the end of that.

But they didn’t, and gradually I integrated myself into the heart and spirit of the group. And what did I discover? For starters, a bunch of very bright guys interested in pursuing issues of general and personal interest. A soft place to land after a lifetime of corporate minefields. A quiet integrity based on an infrastructure of mutual support and trust. Men bonding with men.

I doubt that we’ll ever be as easily forthcoming as many women—probably due to a lifetime of stereotypical conditioning, and while that may be construed as a politically incorrect statement, I think it’s true. My wife can learn a woman’s complete history including husband(s), names of children, birthplace and address simply by standing in a grocery line for ten minutes. Obviously I’m exaggerating to lighten this up a little, but there is something to it. I flat out don’t think men are as easily comfortable discussing personal issues as women. But that’s fine as long as we try.

And we do.

That’s what Men’s Wisdom Works is all about.

And now I’m grateful for the experience.

So here’s to you, Steve, Dan, Dick, Dave, Patrick, Bruce, Mike, Larry, Jim, TS, Lowell, and Lee. My life has been enriched by knowing you.

Long may we run.

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