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
"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
Whether he's speaking or choosing to be silent,
Hart said he can be a leader "any place in the
"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
Hart prefers to have a partner in the leadership
"I like to have a co-creative partner so he can
catch what I miss, and read the container when I'm
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
People know instinctively if they are being
managed or controlled, he said.
"I knew I was responsible for finding my own
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
Hart said he has been "deeply fulfilled as a
teacher and a facilitator in a non-weekend
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
With the "Inner King Training" Hart said he
picked up the concept of having an "inner court" of
'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
"I reached out and ask those men for help," he
said. "I knew I was responsible for finding my own
Most recently in the Hollow Bones Training with
Jumpo Kelly, Hart said he experienced eight days of
silence and Zen Buddhist meditation ... with his
"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
"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
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
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
Because the process of facilitation tends to
focus on past childhood events, Hart believes
circles of men should give "equal energy to the
"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
"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 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
© 2005 Reid Baer
* * *
The fame you earn has a different taste from the
fame that is forced upon you. - Gloria
Reid Baer, an
award-winning playwright for A Lyons
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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