April 28, 2008

Why Men DON'T Mentor Boys

Right now, there are thousands and thousands of boys on waiting lists for male mentors. Add to that all those young males who desperately need mentors and are simply going without. That situation is why boys, single parents, and mentoring organizations everywhere are asking the same question. Why aren't men stepping up to this important work that only they can do?

In the research for my Man-Making book I asked men a lot of questions about their journey toward manhood. In question ten I specifically asked them to . . . look deep in your heart. Ask yourself, "Are you actively involved, in some way, large or small, in the life of an adolescent boy? If you are, I thank you . . . If you are not mentoring a boy, help me to understand why not. Some of the responses are expected, some lame excuses, and then there are those that can only be classified as tragic.

To help men, parents, and mentoring organizations better understand the forces of resistance most men are facing when they are invited to step into mentoring, I’ve done two things:

First, I’ve summarized men’s responses in this PDF document titled, Why Men Don’t. If you’re a man, I encourage you to read it, reflect on it, and see if you can find yourself in the responses. Helping men understand their resistance factors is an important first step toward working through them.

Secondly, I’ve created a presentation for mentoring organizations. I call it Recruiting Man-Makers.The goal of this session is to think about how to target marketing messages directly at men’s resistance factors, and come up with innovative approaches to invite and attract men into the role of man-maker for boys.

Check out the article and the program description. I’ll be very interested in your comments.

You can read some of the research questions I used in the What Men Say section of the Man-Making website.

April 19, 2008

Rites of Passage - Mentoring - and Golf

Marcel Proust said the real journey of discovery is not in seeing new landscapes but in having new eyes. That is what has happened to me as a result of my involvement with man-making activities. Now, everywhere I look, I’m seeing boys, seeing opportunities to affirm young males, feeling the sadness and tragedy when I see the report of a boy self-destructing on the evening news, and even seeing the power in rites of passage activities watching golf on TV.

When Trevor Immelman put on the prestigious Green Jacket at Augusta, GA, after winning the Masters Golf Tournament, it was the final act in a powerful rite of passage into a very select men’s circle. After years of preparation, instruction by mentors, endless practice, countless personal and professional trials, he was tested at the Masters by the best golfers in the world… including Tiger Woods, and he came out victorious. It was indeed and initiation by fire.

What I loved about his story was that Gary Player, himself a three-time Master’s champion, had taken Trevor under his wing and intentionally mentored him in the years, weeks, and just prior to the fierce competition of the Masters tournament. Player even called Trevor’s cell phone as the tournament was heating up, when he had a chance of winning, and left a message telling him to believe in himself and that he WOULD win his first major title on Sunday, the final day.

After putting on the green jacket, Immelman dedicated his victory to his family, but also to Gary Player. He said that, [The message from Gary Player] meant an awful lot to me. I played it to my whole family on speaker-phone. But Mr. Player has been at me all week since we played together here on Tuesday, telling me to believe in myself and that I am good enough to do it.

I am absolutely certain that the words of his beloved and respected mentor were pounding in Trevor’s ears as he approached those last few challenging, no, terrifying holes that stood between him and his lifetime dream. For me, with my new eyes, this story is more proof about the power of heart-to-heart, one-on-one, man-making and rites of passage. It made me very, very happy.

If you saw this victory, what was your reaction?

Who was there for you in the way that Gary Player was there for Trevor Immelman?

Is there a young male around you who could use some informal coaching and the occasional blessing?

April 13, 2008

Doing SOMETHING for Boys

There are a number of versions of this quote and I like them all: None of us can do it all, but we can all do something. That is what came to mind for me when I read this story from National Public Radio's Storycorps page. It's about a 31 year old social worker name Julio Diaz who lives in the Bronx, New York.

Julio gets off the subway on his way home from work with the intention of going to his favorite restaurant for dinner. That's when he encounters a teenager with a knife and, believe it or not, a chance to become a first class man-maker. By not fearing the young man, being able to see the man-hunger in him, and reaching out, he had an enormous and positive impact.

I really recommend this story to you. I don't know if I'd have had his presence of mind, or his courage. But Julio is certainly a role model for us all. Proof that everyone can do something for a boy or boys.

If you have a story like this, send it along. I'll post it to the growing collection of similar stories from men on the Man-Making website.

Link to the NPR Storycorps story: