An Interview with Charles
I was taken aback when my interview with Dr.
Charles Maclean began with him asking me
Tell me about your reader, he
insisted. What is it that you sense spins the
propeller on their beanie? What do they seek when
they read your interviews in Menstuff or in The New
Warrior Journal from The ManKind Project?
Well, I didnt know what to say, at first.
[Id love to hear your response directly
to this question, dear reader.] So, speaking
from my heart I said: I think men want to get
to know the truth of another man. Id like to
get to know you, Charles. And, I think my readers
would, as well.
He responded in the tone of voice that I
imagined a scientist would, reflecting over a
hypothesis, as he mumbled the words
Our conversation continued in the same vein. I
experienced him as bright and full of lots of
curious fun. He was willing to jump right in and
I grew up with a mis-belief that I could
never earn enough merit badges or advanced degrees
to get my parents love, he began. I
believed I would never be enuf.
According to Maclean, The ManKind Project has
helped him deal with his own issues around money
and generosity professionally and
Ive been able to get to know myself
better around whatever plenty or scarcity issues I
still have, and do it in the safest place in the
world, among my brothers of MKP. I chose the animal
name Worthy Ibex [the antelope like spiral
horned high-climber of the Atlas Mountains]
because I am worthy of both giving and receiving
love, acknowledgment and wealth.
When I moved here to Oregon from Texas, I
found a mens group and some of the men were
also in MKP. I dug in my heels and resisted going
to the weekend when one man pressured me saying,
Charles, you SHOULD do this. Then I saw
other men, men like Don Hynes, that I loved being
and what struck me was who they were
and how they related to each other and me
thats what led me to ask about this mankind
thing that they held in common. I went from
disbelief and skepticism, to really cherishing The
ManKind Project. I love the deepening for me that
came with the connection to guys in my I-Group. One
of the best moments was when I got 'hot seated'
when I decided to leave my I-Group to form an
elders group. Another juicy moment was when as an
I-Group we did men of service together
preparing and really serving our brothers
outrageous meals at the weekend training.
Before MKP, other mens groups were like
Group Light, he chuckled.
The other groups were friendly, social,
and activity oriented, he added. But I
had to ask the question coined by my colleague Ann
McGee Cooper, Is the juice worth the
squeeze? So I chose to give myself the deeper
gift of The ManKind Project.
Maclean as a donor advocate traveled for six
months across the US and abroad sharing and
learning new philanthropic practices.
I was in New Zealand helping staff a
training there, he recalled. What I
picked up is that there are things that are
universal coming out of the unique Maori culture.
There are ways of listening closer to the earth.
There was no hiding out on that weekend.
Maclean acknowledged his own act or
shadow around looking good and he blessed his
involvement with the Elder Community for helping
him eliminate more of the smoke and
mirrors in his life.
The 'never miss it gathering' on my
schedule each year is the Elder Retreat at brother
Stosh Thompson's llama ranch in Sisters, Oregon.
Its a time when I claim more Sovereign and
more Magician. Elder energy is a different energy.
Were in the last quarter of our
Maclean referenced the movie Patton
as a poignant example of how an Elder or leader can
interact with men in either a supportive or abusive
Do you remember Patton in the hospital
awarding the medals? As I remember it, he goes to
one soldier who is badly physically wounded and
awards him the medal with lots of praise. The
general then goes to the next man who had been
shell shocked. Today, we call that Post Traumatic
Stress Disorder (PTSD). Once Patton knows the man
is not suffering from a physical ailment, he abuses
and shames the man. Right there in those two scenes
we see the bright shadow of the healthy sovereign
and the dark shadow of the tyrant. There they are -
back to back: the blesser and the abuser. It was a
very real distinction for me.
Maclean said, "The word blessing is one I grew
up with in my church, but it is off-putting to some
who have burned by organized religion."
I use the word acknowledgement to describe
what I wanted most from my father. There is an
understanding of giving and receiving that comes
with an acknowledgement. My fathers
generation falsely believed that if a father wasn't
criticizing his son, the son should take that as
acknowledgment - that the absence of negative
feedback was positive feedback. I believe that the
absence of both positive and corrective feedback is
abuse. The ratio of positive to negative has to be
at least 5:1 in order to be openly received and
used. Generations of fathers have been
acknowledgment deprived themselves, not knowing how
to give or receive. Too many of us grew up
mistakenly believing we had to earn
Maclean discussed the differences between
compliment, performance recognition, acknowledgment
"Compliment is what you get for what you have,
'nice bead adornment on your talisman.' Performance
recognition is what you get when you do what's in
your job description, 'Thanks for buying the food
for the weekend.' Acknowledgment or blessing is
what you get for being who you really are, I
feel safe doing the guts work because I know I can
count on you to bring integrity to the
process. You can't earn or buy acknowledgment
or blessing. You just 'be' it. You just deserve it.
Self-acknowledgment is the other important piece
the ability to give myself blessing,
particular on days when Im getting beat up by
the outside world. Thats when I ask myself,
what am I proud of that nobody notices?
Then I give that gift to myself. Its the
heart of generosity."
Maclean referred to fellow trustee Curtis
Mitchell who speaks about MKP's role in releasing
and deepening the value called generosity imbedded
in each man.
"Generosity is when a man makes places for that
value to be expressed at a higher level," Maclean
said, referencing Mitchell. "It's about creating a
culture of generosity. In that context, men CANNOT
NOT give to their passions. They begin to give out
of self-interest blended with a spirit of
enlightened, rigorous, accountable, joyful
community give-back. Thats a driver in my
life. Generosity itself is the
self-blessing, Mitchell has said.
Its an assertion that theres
enough, more than plenty, for all of
So meet one of our newest trustees on The
ManKind Foundation who called himself a
Rookie Trustee and said his
contribution is bringing the spirit and practice of
positive psychology and "appreciative
inquiry" to himself and those he serves.
If I fear cockroaches, then I will look
for and find cockroaches wherever I go. So, applied
to the idea of money, if I fear scarcity, I will
find and generate scarcity.
Your humble correspondent had the opportunity in
D.C. and again recently to make phone calls on
behalf of The ManKind Foundation. Its really
a fun experience when done right. Maclean was in
the numbers of men who reached out and gave others
an opportunity to be generous on those phone
The man, well-schooled in the art of
Warrior Listening, explained how he
approached the task. Actually, he referred to it as
Im here as a committed listener to
you as a brother, and I want to hear your passions
and your 'pissosities' about MKP. Unless I am
willing to hear both - what it is that disconnects
and generates distrust then I will keep a
distance between you and me, and me from myself. In
regards to relationship-raising (what others call
fundraising), Ill often ask a number of
questions: What are you most pleased with
that MKP has brought into your life? What are you
most pleased with that you have brought to MKP?
What do you want MKP to be more and less of
What role would you like to play in making that
happen? Its all about what is the mix
of time, talent, dollars, estate gifts, etc. for a
man. I want to honor whatever that is
yes, is a gift, a no is a
gift. Its the maybe that derails
both of us.
Maclean said he has discovered in his research
that we may very well be hard-wired toward a giving
There is evidence from a study by Dr.
Cathleen Smith that in the first 6-12 months of
life, infants attempt to soothe adults the
very ones whom the babies depend on for their
survival. When the adult is upset, the child knows
it and trys to comfort them. Smith noticed this in
pre-verbal children who even attempted to soothe
other infants they didnt even know. In twin
studies, theres some indication of a
predisposition to care about others. I believe it
because I can see something shining in the look of
people who have given of their time or finances.
Medical studies show theres actual
improvement of the immune system when a person
volunteers, gives, or even watches others doing
good. Dr. Dean Ornish says, Giving may be the
most selfish thing we do. Put another way,
I do the good that I do in part for the good
it does me.
Will you say something about the shadows around
The shadows of giving
come to mind. I believe that each of us is on a
continuum from giver to receiver. Were
comfortable somewhere along that line based on what
has personally been most useful, or most painful to
us. I was a righteous giver. Whether it was love or
money, or acknowledgment
I was more
comfortable giving than receiving.
Here, I strongly encourage you to check out
Macleans story around his growth in being
able to receive. Its called What I
Learned From Children About Giving and
Receiving. Its under Articles at his
I really liked this part of his description
around the shadows of giving:
If I only give, then I will likely attach
strings. If I only receive, then Im really
just being a taker and put nothing back in
circulation. Thats the real challenge
being open both ways. I can be supportive and
acknowledging without the shadows of pandering or
Maclean talked about the movie Pay it
Forward and the idea of giver and receiver in
a balanced relationship.
The act of giving is like a teeter totter
or balancing an equation. The teeter totter is
tipped with either giving or receiving it
puts me one up and you one down. The homeostasis of
the relationship has been changed. Its not
necessarily good or bad. However, to rebalance, I
can either give back to you a reciprocity
approach that can be very manipulative in
fundraising - or I can give forward from what
Ive received in my life to someone else. Let'
say like giving into a self-sustaining scholarship
fund for others, some time after I've received a
Maclean noted how the River Jordan flows into
the Dead Sea. It's dead because it has inflow but
He spoke again about his phone calls engaging
men in the possibility of giving to MKP.
'I dont write charity checks, some
many of the younger men are looking
to make a social investment; they want to see two
things: 1) They want to know in advance what their
gift is going to accomplish and be told later what
it did . . . or didn't accomplish. MKP needs to
continue to conduct research on the measurable
results of the work. 2) I want to see that my
gift helps the organization become more self
sufficient and less dependent on me. For
instance, I want a non-profit that sets up a
youth at risk program with a coffee shop, or a job
training component where people have to show up on
time. I want the income from that related business
to fund more of the nonprofits ongoing
The number of look-alike non-profits has grown
immensely, according to Maclean, along with a
growing public distrust of non-profits. So the
questions from a fundraiser have to be more
targeted to what the giver wants. The fundraiser
should ask first what the giver cares about. And
then the organization should be able to tell its
story in 30 seconds. Man, Id like to be able
to do that with MKP.
Dr. Paul Schervish says were
shifting from demand side fundraising, where it
feels like my hand in your pocket, to a supply side
relationship that says, help me understand
your passion and lets see if what youre
passionate about is a match!
Maclean has some new ideas on how we can better
orient ourselves toward giving.
As a donor advocate, I am committed to
assisting brothers to define their own giving
mission. One of the tools Im offering on a
pro-bono basis to Mankind brothers is a generic,
step-by-step fun process for crystallizing your
personal giving mission and then acting on
So, instead of being like a Texas tumble
weed blown across the highway by the last windy
request we can get control of our giving and
say "yes" or "no" to any request and feel good
about our decision . . . and ourselves.
Eventually we get to the place where we
seek out opportunities to give that match our
mission, Maclean stated. I know
Ive made a good ask when you say, Thank
you Charles for the gift you gave me when you gave
me the gift of being able to give to The Mankind
Foundation. In my newcomers view, the MKP
Foundation is just a funnel, a vehicle, where
people who care deeply about the work can give
their way. My experience is that my fellow trustees
are a group of men committed to opening up the flow
and confronting our cultures views on
scarcity, enough-ness and worthiness. It's about
deepening the culture of generosity within each
Using a different metaphor, borrowed from Tim
McGuire, former President of the American Society
of Newspaper Editors, Maclean said the Elder stage
of a mans life is like an elevator.
For those of us who have been given much,
we can send the elevator back down to help others.
And, we can assist them to lift their own elevator.
It's about UpLift.
I enjoyed spending time with this man and
getting to know him.
If youve a mind to
website www.philanthropynow.com and download
pro-bono tools, tips and strategies for giving
wings to your own hard-wired generosity. - RB
Charles juice comes from coaching,
facilitating workshops and researching about: The
Artful Ethical Ask; Donor UpLift; Donor
Acknowledgment; The Future of Philanthropy; Skills
For Financial Advisors. He has written some 25
articles on giving and asking and developed a suite
of giving support tools. He is the author of
Shifting From Donor Fatigue To Donor
Resiliency. His work has been appeared in the
media from the New York Times to NPRs Talk Of
The Nation. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org
© 2006, 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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