It just so happens that January is the ninth annual occurrence of National Mentoring Month. While the need for mentors is great, mentoring a young guy is a huge step in personal commitment to the cause. It's not appropriate for everyone, but if that is the call you hear, 2010 might be a good year to pursue that possibility.
HOWEVER, In the Man-Making book I talk about a "continuum of involvement" for men. On the low involvement end is doing nothing. That work starts with simply being aware that young males are watching you as a way to learn about manhood. All men are involved with that level of man-making, whether they know it or not. If you choose to do anything different because you know boys are watching, you're in the game!
From the "doing nothing" form of involvement, you could step up and choose to intentionally notice, and then acknowledge boys, with a positive greeting. Easy, right? You could go farther and actually affirm something you see in a young male you encounter or a boy you know personally and watch the young lad light up! Moving up on the continuum might be participating in a one-time activity that involves men and boys, or even getting involved with other men in support of boys in regular activities. I believe that when men get a taste of the returns from hanging out with young males, Masculine Gravity works on them and pulls them toward naturally wanting more.
While one-on-one relationships between a man and a boy are powerfully transformational for both males, boys need a lot of men in their lives, and at different levels of involvement. As it was in past tribal cultures, when there were lots of men around to watch and connect with in different ways, today's boys also need a variety of men around so they can construct a personal vision of manhood. I think that's how most of us did it anyway.
If you're thinking of a man-making resolution, how about deciding to intentionally do something . . . anything really. You can trust that positive gesture in the direction of a young male will make a difference. For some boys, even a small gesture on your part can be very powerful.
You'll get a lot of support from the messages that will be appearing for National Mentoring Month. The initiative is spearheaded by the Harvard Mentoring Project of the Harvard School of Public Health, MENTOR, and the Corporation for National and Community Service. On those websites you will find a way to search by zip code for different man-making opportunities near you. National Mentoring Month has the benefit of General Colin L. Powell as its key spokesperson, and his message is in the video clip just below. This year's theme is "Expand Your Universe. Mentor a Child." Earl's man-making call for 2010 is simply, "Do Something."
From myself and General Powell, blessings on your man-making in 2010.
If the clip doesn't show up, go to this link.