A Man
Overboard

 

 

December interview with Martin Brossman


New Warrior Martin Brossman, author of Finding Our Fire, has discovered a few secrets for connecting with men outside of MKP.

He is founder of The Men’s Inquiry – an open forum for men of all stripes to connect via the Internet, phone bridges, and person to person.

Right out of the shoot, I asked Brossman what we could do better to reach out to other men with our New Warrior Training Adventure (NWTA).

“First, it’s us - all of us - powerfully living our own mission in the world and using the wonderful tools MKP has given us to do that! This is about supporting each man to live his mission in the world. But each man still has to do his own work and take the risks needed to live his own mission. When men ask me why I don’t explain everything that goes on in the weekend I tell them that in my own experience MKP has created an environment designed to give you a unique experience; if you knew all about it, it wouldn’t be unique.” Brossman said. “It’s part of the adventure that you don’t know all that is going on. For me I had never experienced such powerful compassion from so many men in my life until I experienced the New Warrior weekend.”

As a member of MKP’s Marketing Committee, I pressed my North Carolinian friend to give me his opinion on how we could be more accessible to the general public with the NWTA.

“Well the other piece is to make sure you aren’t having any more secrecy than is necessary to get the job done. Some people are prepared for the weekend, and some are not. Unfortunately, people will lie and say they are ready, when they’re not.”

As Editor of The New Warrior Journal, I’m on the Internet everyday and I know that many men find sites disclosing in a negative way the good things we do. It makes me wonder if the Journal’s 48 issues could be available to the public so when someone searches for our key words – they’re directed to www.mkp.org to have the positive voice of men being heard from the source.

“In some ways, the cow’s out of the barn,” Brossman continued. “I would ask a simple question regarding our processes: is it critical for the weekend? Is it essential for initiation? I would consider removing things our society has the biggest problems with.”

Martin Brossman is a success coach and works with business men and women on a regular basis and speaks from experience:

“What is our highest liability risk in the media? If it isn’t critical, why not drop it? If we take it away, we’re reducing their ability to attack us.”

When I began interviewing men’s-work authors about five years ago, Brossman introduced me to Warren Farrell, The Myth of Male Power, as well as John Eldredge, Wild At Heart.

Brossman said his first experience with men’s work started with the Sterling Men’s Weekend.

“I clearly received a value being immersed in a weekend connected with men,” he stated. “Afterwards, they told me that if I didn’t keep the spirit of the weekend alive, it would fade away. I decided I wanted a local men’s group where we could have real conversations that explored serious questions about life – with real and authentic answers. I realized the lantern I wanted lit was mine to light. I needed to make this group happen.”

After reaching out through emails and phone calls, Brossman invited 300 men to a meeting in the Raleigh, NC area. Twelve showed up.

“I was looking to have just one meeting really, but after we finished, one of the men in the room said he wanted another one. I suggested waiting a year. The men present wanted it sooner. They told me they ‘weren’t done’ and wanted to meet again much sooner.”

A month later they met again.

“I was left with something so valuable … I needed to continue these circles. Eleven years later, I’m still doing them. I make it so men have no obligations; they show up when they want to. I don’t try to create safety for an emotional support center. I simply ask for confidentiality, participation at whatever level each man is comfortable with, and a commitment to do something out of what they learned from the evening.”

Brossman told of a man in Alaska who wanted to join a local Men’s Inquiry group, but there was none there. So, he created an on-line version in a Yahoo discussion group (which currently has approximately 200 men participating world wide with upwards of hundreds of postings a month). It’s an ongoing post and chat room where Brossman encourages conversation around specific questions for men.

“The questions evolved organically,” he noted. “At the end of each meeting I would put out to the men what they wanted to explore next. The questions evolved from what was happening in the room from any given man. It’s almost like my work was to simply listen: what are the questions we as men need to ask together? These men came up with very intuitive and organic questions from their own experience - that’s why the questions in my book are so rich. I didn’t just go out and research them some place … these were the original questions from being in the middle of the process.”

Some of the Inquiry questions get right to the meat of the matter:

  • How do you treat your partner like your mother?
  • Did you accept your mother’s interpretation of your father, or really see him for his true blessings and shortcomings on your own?
  • How does holding on to resentment towards your father hurt you and/or your children?
  • What are the distinctive ways in which the masculine nurtures that differs from the manner the feminine nurtures?
  • What is your relationship to authority? How does that relationship serve you?

I read the response to the last question from “Laurence”: “Historically, my relationship with authority has not always been good. It seems that I vacillate between unquestioning loyalty on the one hand and the total rejection of authority on the other. In the former case, I found that there have been times when I didn’t stick up for myself and didn’t express myself enough. I think I devalued myself in some ways as a result. In the latter case, a total rejection of authority can result in other problems. In particular in my life, I found it hard to work for some employers, but didn’t get out of the situation before it ended up being to my own detriment.”

Of all the questions and answers, this one rang like a bell for me. Martin Brossman’s book is set up much like his meetings – he creates the question and gives his reaction, then invites the response of other men.

Brossman facilitates a phone-bridge version of his group which has a more impromptu kind of atmosphere. He reaches out to men from around the country and helps them talk with each other.

The author said he doesn’t get paid for this kind of outreach, but does it as a community service.

“I make my living as a success coach and this … this is my tithing to society.”

Donations from his speaking gigs and his current book sales make it possible for him to pay for his websites:

www.TheMensInquiry.com – The Men’s Inquiry Website

www.FindingOurFire.com – For Martin’s Book: Finding Our Fire: Enhancing men’s connection to heart, passion and strength

www.TheWomensInquiry.com – The Women’s Inquiry Website

health.groupsyahoo.com/group/TriangleMensInquirymeeting

Yes, if you were paying attention to the URL’s, there is a Women’s Inquiry, as well.

“Primarily business women have contacted me about doing something similar to my men’s inquiry – something different than ‘just a lunch to hear a speaker.’ Out of those suggestions, I created the Women’s Inquiry group.”

I found Martin’s Brossman story about the evolution of his book, Finding Our Fire – Enhancing men’s connection to heart, passion and strength, very interesting. He contacted more than 1,000 men and found just over one hundred willing to open up with their stories.

A portion of the proceeds from the sale of his book goes to support the Triangle Men’s Center where Martin has been involved for many years - www.trianglemenscenter.org

“I realized I wanted to make this men’s work available in a written form so if someone wanted to create their own group they could have a handbook. I believed it was important to share my experience as well as allow the voices of other men.”

Much as a therapist would do in writing a book about stories regarding his patients, Brossman changed names and information to conceal identities, but left in the “signature information,” he said.

The men most willing to step up and share their stories were those who had already done some personal work, including many men from MKP.

It seemed to me as I spoke with Brossman, that knowing so many different men’s stories would give a man a wider range of experience, and a better opportunity to see the multi-faceted personality influences within himself.

“That’s exactly the effect: it’s a mirror for me to see myself and for them to see themselves. It’s a connection for men to have a richer understanding of who they are as men. Sometimes women think they know men. I tell them, ‘the map is not the territory.’ One woman said to me, ‘Oh, my gosh! In some ways, men don’t have a clue.’ Now, that was not meant as a denigrating remark. What I believe she was saying was NOT that men are clueless, but that men have not been getting her clues as a woman because she was not communicating in a way men could hear.”

I was surprised how Brossman spoke bluntly about women’s and men’s relationships: “We have to take responsibility for OUR issues as men, and they have to take responsibility for theirs, otherwise one of the people will be the child and the other the parent. At one gathering, a woman said somewhat sardonically, ‘Oh this is just more stuff WOMEN have to do.’ I responded, ‘Not at all, we men need to do our work and together we can be engaged in the maturity of each other.’ Mature people understand, ‘I need to take care of myself, and my partner needs to take care of herself. And as we need help from one another, we can participate in a mutual process.’”

“Women have been trying to initiate men into manhood with a great deal of anxiety for a long time. It is our work to do, not theirs. And, we have to stand up for ourselves, and what it is we will do, and how we will participate as a partner.”

So Martin, is there a value for us in MKP to be reaching out to uninitiated men?

“If we don’t cross-train with other men and other trainings, then we create a cognitive inbreeding,” he insisted. “Reaching out to men outside MKP is extremely important for US … like an athlete that is cross-trained – he gets a more complete kind of training.”

Explain cognitive inbreeding.

“If all you do is give and receive value from one single domain, then a person will slowly be biased by the structure of that system and be unaware of that bias. It’s so important for MKP not to be isolated. If we get overly absorbed in our own drama, it will kill us off. As an organization, we need to return to a clear vision and mission as to what we’re about. If we get overly concerned about daily issues, then we will end up with infinitely unresolved issues – and we’ll always find something else that has to get done, perpetually stirring the pot. MKP needs to be mission driven.”

I believe most MKP men can relate to mission.

“The mission of the Inquiry work I do is designed to open up that domain. We ask how and what questions, but not why. And my mission as the facilitator is to listen to the group in conversation. I stay with them long enough to get below the surface-level answers. The first reaction of a human being is to come up with an automatic answer. It’s usually useless data, like a booby prize. However, if a man stays longer in the process of the question, he gets a deeper answer. This is where the profound insights come from. I let each man go at the level he’s comfortable. I do not challenge them, nor do I ask permission. I set up the dynamic for the optimum space that allows the man to go deeper on his own. I let the question do the work.”

What ends the Inquiry meetings is what MKP men might refer to as a stretch – what is the man going to do with his new-found truths outside of the room?

I know Martin Brossman. I’ve staffed NWTA’s with him, I’ve been in other circles with him, and we have spoken many times on the phone. He is truly a man of heart, passion and strength.

“I made a decision at a point in my life where I saw no future, purpose, or meaning. I saw myself as broken and unrepairable. I realized that going on living like that would suck! So I made a very clear decision to live the rest of my life with a mission that would make a difference. And, I do that, except when I don’t. Sure, I fall off the horse, but I still get back on and ask myself, ‘What part can I play in making this a better world for all of us?’ In my lifetime, how far can I get? In men’s work, I’ve got a clear vision … if we don’t authentically connect with other men, we don’t become the best men we can be. Living my mission feels like a life that has value. I needed a mission big enough to surrender to … to let mission put its hooks in me in a way I can’t get out of it. I was a bit intimidated by the work I’ve taken on, so that’s how I knew I had a big enough mission. Who I am today …? Fifteen years ago if you had told me what I’d be doing today, I would have said I couldn’t be that person.”

Living an authentic mission may make a man uncomfortable, and that is a good thing, Brossman added.

“For me, if your mission is not big enough that you can not do it with out the help of others you just don’t have a mission worthy of this single life that you have to live. My vision for the Inquiry work is that one day men will just naturally get together to explore important questions about their lives in an authentic way.”

Martin Brossman is truly a man of mission. He was recently honored with the Ron Herring Award for his mission of service as an initiated man in MKP.

“That was one of the most meaningful experiences in my life - that my community acknowledged I was living my mission. It chokes me up just speaking of it now.”

Contact info: Martin Brossman, 919.847.4757 or Martin@CoachingSupport.com or www.CoachingSupport.com

© 2008 Reid Baer

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The fame you earn has a different taste from the fame that is forced upon you. - Gloria Vanderbilt

Reid Baer, an award-winning playwright for “A Lyon’s Tale” is also a newspaper journalist, a poet with more than 100 poems in magazines world wide, and a novelist with his first book released this month entitled Kill The Story. Baer has been a member of The ManKind Project since 1995 and currently edits The New Warrior Journal for The ManKind Project www.mkp.org . He resides in Reidsville, N.C. with his wife Patricia. He can be reached at E-Mail.



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