A Man




An interview with Phil Hart

Phil Hart is on a mission. "I create passion and a joyful world by creating safe containers for learning, coaching, healing and connecting," he said of his mission.

Phil Hart is a mover and shaker within his community in Northern California. From his home in Grass Valley, he spoke of his deep desire to learn and his own individual path of leadership. He was initiated into the Mankind Project (MKP) in 1994 and he's been going ever since. He's a student of life and a professional personal coach. Moreover, he's a creative force.

"My definition of personal and group leadership is that I'm always creating an impact in the world," he began. "And I take full responsibility for whatever impact I create."

Before "creating an impact" Hart said he "reads" what's going on a room of people. According to Hart, there are three levels of seeing a container.

"First I need to read what's going on within me," he said. "At level two I see what's going on over there with the other people, and at level three I see what's going on over there and not being said."

Whether he's speaking or choosing to be silent, Hart said he can be a leader "any place in the room."

"My value is being in connection with community making a greater impact," he explained. "When there's two or more people, we can co-creatively accomplish more than we can as individuals."

Hart, along with Frederick Whitmeyer, Bruce Gold and Andy Towlen recently co-created and were an integral part of the leadership at a conference in Houston, TX for MKP I-Group Leaders. An I-Group is a small group of initiated men who meet regularly in a circle. I stands for Integration.

"Together we held the co-creative energy for that conference," Hart noted. "We led out with positive energy and we were literally co-creating with the men who attended."

The ability to lead without controlling comes from acknowledging men's abilities, he added.

"If I don't believe the other parties have something to contribute, I'm not really moving into a co-creative process," he said. "The agreements are that we're both creating something for the greater good."

Hart prefers to have a partner in the leadership process.

"I like to have a co-creative partner so he can catch what I miss, and read the container when I'm not."

Also, a strong clean container will allow for leaders to receive feedback, he added.

"That's the model," he said. "People who want to get into their leadership will purposefully choose the path of getting feedback. I need feedback. I need to manage myself. I want honest and hard feedback."

People know instinctively if they are being managed or controlled, he said.

"I knew I was responsible for finding my own mentoring."

Hart did not follow the traditional leader track within MKP, choosing instead to pursue his own leadership path in a different way.

"Years ago I didn't have the inner confidence to do the 'carpet work' so I pursued my own teaching track outside the weekend," he said. "Now I feel that if I really wanted to pursue it, I could. Within the I-Group facilitation we do our own weekend intensives where men do deep levels of work."

Hart said he has been "deeply fulfilled as a teacher and a facilitator in a non-weekend environment."

MKP has provided Hart extensive leadership training's including the Warrior Monk program with MKP co-founder Bill Kauth.

"The big piece I got out of Warrior Monk, besides getting to hang out with Bill Kauth, was learning his process that I create the reality," Hart said. "I am continually creating a reality in the present."

With the "Inner King Training" Hart said he picked up the concept of having an "inner court" of advisers.

'It was a core experience for me to be able to split off some of my own personalities," he said, "and work with them separately."

Hart honored men like "Snake" Bloomstrand and Bill Wich for mentoring him early on in his work with MKP.

"I reached out and ask those men for help," he said. "I knew I was responsible for finding my own mentoring."

Most recently in the Hollow Bones Training with Jumpo Kelly, Hart said he experienced eight days of silence and Zen Buddhist meditation ... with his eyes open.

"I had never meditated in my life," he recalled. "The training really slowed my life down and quieted my mind. I have always been an active, do-a-lot kind of person. I have just started appreciating the present more."

Hart has also found leadership training in other programs outside of MKP. He has a Masters degree in Spiritual Psychology from the University of Santa Monica sponsored by Ph.D's Ron and Mary Hulnick.

"I learned how to enhance my ability to listen in a non-attached way," Hart noted.

He referred to the Hulnick process as "trio work" where one person was facilitated, one was facilitator and one was an observer.

"The whole model is constantly giving feedback to the facilitator around his skills, and the intention is not to make the person wrong," he said. "It's the overriding principle to learn without judgment. The goal is to improve skills without making you wrong. "

There is a greater willingness to learn when a person feels safe with the observers, he added.

Hart experienced a myriad of facilitation models including Gestalt, Psychosynthetis, and others.

"We learned to develop our own inner counselor or knower," he explained, "It's a place of awareness where I can separate and observe myself, and have a conversation with a part of myself."

Also at the University of Santa Monica he was required to "take on a profound project that would effect our life."

"We were supposed to take the most important relationship in our lives and improve it without the other person knowing they were the subject - without them knowing it," he said. "I chose my wife."

Another part of the program encouraged him to make a shift around his talents.

"I began singing," he exclaimed, proudly. "I took voice lessons and had a big recital and sang 25 songs."

Hart also plays tennis. He said he is officially retired from work, but continues his avocation has a New Warrior in MKP. His work continues, more specifically around circles of men. The traditional methods of I-Group participation need to be reexamined, he noted.

"Facilitation is just a small piece of I-Groups," he explained. "Sometimes men feel they are required to do work in a circle of men and that drives them away."

Men who meet in circles should focus on creating safety and trust. They should also remember to have fun by doing things together like dancing, playing cards, or outdoor activities.

"There's something dysfunctional about the words 'support group' or you wouldn't be in it..."

It's a mistake when I-Groups consider themselves a "support group," he warns.

"There's something dysfunctional about the words 'support group' or you wouldn't be in it," he declared. "I-Groups are laboratories for developing leadership skills. It's like a team. Team is the reason men like to staff weekends. There's a huge opportunity of grasping the idea that we're a team. We can do acts of service in the world as a team."

Because the process of facilitation tends to focus on past childhood events, Hart believes circles of men should give "equal energy to the future."

"What is the goal I want in my life?" he asks. "What is the mission that I'm afraid to say in my life? I need to bring those issues out in a circle of men and let them hold me accountable."

There are soon to be four I-Groups in this little town of 12,000 people in Grass Valley, CA. Something must be working right. The concept of open I-Groups is being championed in this area.

"I tried it as an experiment when I asked my group that we invite two men to sit and do an evening with us without having done the initiation weekend," Hart said. "The only requirement was that the visitor was vouched for by another man and he agreed to confidentiality."

The invitation is for the first month. If a man wants to continue in the group then he is required to be initiated through the MKP weekend adventure. About 60 percent of the visiting men stay in after a month. And of those men, around 90 percent are initiated.

"The sustainability factor is higher," Hart noted. "It's interesting that most men are so hungry for soulful work they became more vulnerable in the early stages with us than after the weekend. Those men are usually the first on the carpet at the weekend."

The idea that men don't have to compete but can trust men in a circle is a new concept to many.

"It's the place I learn to trust men with my pain, wishes and desire for the future," Hart concludes. "Healthy men can hold me accountable without judgment. They can support me rather than judge me. And when I don't accomplish what I say I'll accomplish, they're there to support me rather than make me wrong."

Philip Hart, ma, cpcc, 13927 Meadow Drive, Grass Valley, CA 95945 philhart@gv.net

© 2005 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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