A Man




The King’s Vision
An interview with Les Sinclair

I met Les Sinclair eleven years ago, back when Los Angeles was still a developing community with the San Diego Center. I’ll never forget hearing his Australian accent in a circle of men.

I remembered him talking about his name at that time. He spoke again about it in our conversation.

“My full name is Leslie. In Australia and the U.K. it’s a proud man’s name which means ‘strength.’ My father and great grandfather are named Leslie, or Les. Australian people pronounce it more like ‘Lez.’

As a young actor at 20th Century Fox, where he was under contract, there was much discussion about using the name Leslie … already there was a Leslie Howard and a Leslie Nielsen … so the Aussie stayed with Leslie Sinclair.

“For some reason mostly women took the name ‘Leslie’ on in this county,” Sinclair noted. “I was always a little bit embarrassed in the U.S. because it tends to be a girl’s name. I wanted to be a guy, a man. But now I’ve come to embrace the name. I believe I’m honoring my fathers and my heritage with it.”

So meet the ManKind Project’s Leader Chair. He’s in charge of all the certified men who lead The New Warrior Training Adventure (NWTA).

Many men might ask, ‘who in the world could step into the shoes of Don Jones as Leader Chair?’ Well, I’m here to tell you that Leslie Sinclair can. Les adheres to Jones’ admonition to not only create a container on a weekend, but to inspire it.

Also, I experience Les as a man who can stand in a grounded unflappable place while demonstrating an amazing amount of passion and conviction. There’s a balance of softness and hardness in this man’s energy that is easy to trust.

“I’ll tell you why I’m still passionate around the ManKind Project … it’s my vision of leadership. A generation from now I can foresee where the halls of congress have New Warriors who have gone through our program, men who walk their talk, who are accountable for choices they make, where law-makers are New Warriors. There will be men who have gone through the NWTA who are passionate around being men of integrity. My vision is that we will make that happen where men that are in leadership roles in government, the army, or the private sector, will be New Warriors who will have an influence on men in the world. I know we influence people; there are endless stories. Men go home and people around them say ‘you’re different.’ They are different. Our trainings provide a wake up to life, a new way of being a man, a way of reinventing ourselves. Leadership is about deciding ‘I’m not going to be a destructive man anymore, I’m not going to be a tyrant … I’m going to be a man of love, compassionate with strength. A man without a well balanced warrior quadrant is nothing but a savage, a mercenary. What I believe is in my mission: I co-create a compassionate, authentic, enlightened society by facilitating transformational change and modeling servant leadership.”

You should hear these words directly from Les – his energy is very moving.

Actually, considering Les’s Hollywood background, formerly a producer, it’s doubly amazing he has remained so grounded over the years …

I told Les I saw him as a man who doesn’t seek the limelight, but knows how to handle it. If you’ve ever seen the video, Les was the man who got MKP exposure on the Donahue show many years back with a panel that included Joe Laur, Phil Bozanowski, David Hallowell, Ken Druck, Jim Coleman and co-founder Ron Herring.

“That opportunity came about as a magnificent accident,” he recalled. “I called up the producer of that show, someone I had previously worked with while I was producing The Merv Griffin show. I had recommended Mark Gerzon, who’d written a book, to be on Donahue. [See Gerzon’s interview in July 04’s issue.] Pat, the woman I knew, asked how I knew Mark. I told her that we were in a men’s movement. She asked what does ‘men’s movement’ mean? I told her there was a growing interest with men who wanted to connect with other men and release their pent up feelings. There was a movement toward being better men. She said she was ‘fascinated’ and wanted to do a show on that. I said, ‘okay, I’ll try to get you some people to be on the show.’ I contacted John Lee and Robert Bly, and some other Gurus in the so called ‘men’s movement,’ but nobody returned my call … which I thought was interesting. So as I’m trying to set up key players to be on the show, Pat called back and said that Phil was going on vacation and she needed to fill a couple shows. She wanted me to come in and actually host the entire show, myself! You know, I’m a behind-the-scenes guy, but she said ‘I think you could do it.’ And I thought, ‘maybe I could do it … maybe we could put together a panel and show them how an I-Group works with the check in … The next thing I know we’re light-speeded up and scheduled to come in 10 days later. I called around and got the men I thought were articulate and represented New Warrior energy.”

What the men did not know is that the producers of the show had set them up to fail, after all, the studio was full of women … and TV likes conflict.

“While we were in the green room, the warm-up lady told the audience that we were back stage doing something ‘weird’ with smoke (sage) and that if anyone in the crowd thought they were wimps or anti-female to go after them. ‘Don’t pull any punches with these guys,’ he said. So when we came on stage, Ed Fell, who was there in the audience, was crouching down in his seat … just knowing that we were going to get lambasted.”

Then the cameras came on.

“I began by saying that all across America there were men who meet in groups like this where we check in with our hearts … and the women were cheering us on asking “where did you guys come from?! We’ve been looking for you forever! During the show, the producer came up to me and told me she was going to keep the cameras rolling and get two shows out it. At the very end, Phil Donahue came out and said ‘you guys are absolutely terrific.’ We took pictures with him. It was certainly a magnificent accident.”

So much for conflict!!

The video has been a great marketing tool for men to enroll others. The tape is still being used.

“It’s a bit dated,” Sinclair quipped. “I’m not as young and gorgeous as I used to be … I had a bit more hair then and I was 15 pound lighter.”

I laughed a lot with Les as we talked. He’s contagiously lively.

And what about going on Oprah’s show?

“I did ask Oprah. I did. She said ‘no,’ she’s already covered.

Sinclair knew Oprah from her early days on television in Chicago.

“I went to her show with Brian Muldoon, and we sat in the audience. Just before the show opens, Oprah comes up to me and says, ‘Les, this is not about you today.’ The show was about men who didn’t pay their spousal and child support. It was pretty awful to hear how unconscious men avoid their responsibilities. I don’t think we’ll ever be on her show. Phil Donahue was a very conscious guy. He did a great deal to wake up people. Now most of the daytime shows are like Jerry Springer. They get the lowest common denominator for an audience.”

So much for trying to win the world over all at once, what about healing the world one man at a time?

Quoting Mahatma Gandhi, Les said that as men and leaders in our own lives we need to be the change we wished to see in the world.

I asked Sinclair if he had a King’s vision or particular ‘style’ of leadership, especially on an NWTA.

“Leadership is about a man walking his talk: it is about setting an example so others can follow. If no one is following you, then you are not leading very well! Being a leader requires that we do our own work with ‘the shadow’ in order to bring forth our light.

I like the sage advice from out Native North Americans, “when you make a decision, ask what impact it will have seven generations into the future.” There is a blessing and burden to being a leader. It is a blessing to inspire men to reach their potential and to tell them that they are not inherently broken. The burden often takes us away from our wives, partners and kids. So here’s what I say to the leaders: get your life in balance. Get it in balance. If it’s out of whack it will show up on a weekend. If I am out of balance in some aspect of my life it’s going to be transparent.”

For me as a Leader In Training (LIT), I gotta tell you, this is the kind of leader I will follow.

“What we’re doing is initiating men,” he continued. “We’re initiators of men. An initiation is a beginning of something. It’s starting something to help men wake up to life, wake up to being conscious men and having conscious choices. This is what accountability is, being aware of the consequences of our choices. A good choice is beneficial, a bad choice often hurts people. My hope is that we teach the importance of accountability. If you chose to be late and men had to sit waiting for you, you’re unconscious. Wake up! On an NWTA we show men the end result of him being asleep and not caring about other people.”

Is accountability important for leaders?

“The leaders have to model it … I have to model it. I cannot go to a weekend and be effective as a leader when my life is a mess. It’s about our essential character. The nature of our character determines our fate.”

(As a writer and dramatist, I like it when anyone makes a reference to ancient wisdom coming from Aristotle – one of the first to understand the catharsis involved in true drama. The protagonist is described as the man with the fatal flaw in his character whose story is acted out.)

“Leadership is about inspiring others to do it,” Sinclair added. “It’s the reason I got involved in the Global Support Team (GST) – to foster leadership outside in the international world. It’s been a joy for me. The GSTeamsters (as I call them) gets together regularly on a monthly bridge call with men from around the world. The international community has different problems than those in the U.S.”

“We’re primarily focused on mentoring issues. There’s been a surge of interest in this work from Hispanics, particularly an interest for an NWTA in Mexico. This requires leadership.”

Sinclair was quick to add that “leadership” was not simply about being certified in MKPI.

“We have a need for community leadership. There are all kinds of different ways men can be leaders, with the lodge, as elders, as center director … all passionate men are invited to lead our growing communities. It’s very important for a man to step into his leadership.”

As a full certified leader, Les said it was his “obligation to train men to replace him … 100 times.”

“If I can influence a hundred men, it’s going to have a ripple effect … then those men will do their job in influencing other men.”

Les has influenced his nephew, Paul Sinclair, the youngest co-leader in The Project. Recently Les bought a condo in Las Vegas, in part to be closer to his family.

Les Sinclair was there for me when I was initiated in 1995 in San Diego. At the time, the certified leaders ran the community. They controlled everything from top to bottom.

“I LOVE control,” Sinclair declared. “I like to be in control, but I can’t be in control of everything. A good leader will delegate and say, ‘hey mate you can do this and I’ll help you.’ I also LOVE to then watch the man blossom. There are many different styles of leadership in MKP. There’s the one who plans ahead in a company way to get the troops over that hill ... someone with attention to detail. Then there are the charismatic types that say ‘let’s charge over that hill and you’re coming with me.’ Both leadership styles work.”

Sinclair honored the men who have sat in his position as Leader Chairman, including Rick Broniec, Jim Coloumbe, and Don Jones.

And what kind of leader is Les Sinclair?

“I just came off a weekend in Canada. My intention was that I wanted to be authentically me on the weekend. I love rituals. I like doing that, in part, because my whole approach to life is that this is my performance. I’m not holding back for a dress rehearsal. I put everything I’ve got into each day. I do it now, not hold back for next week.”

This is a leader who I see holding the true king’s vision, while still being accessible to every man.

More than being a leader, Sinclair said he was most proud of the two girls he’s reared.

His older daughter Emily just won an Emmy as producer of Extreme Makeover – The Home Edition.

“I joke about being their ‘Dingo Dad,’ he said. “I call them my puppies.”

I believe Les’s love is genuine. I can hear it in his voice, and it touches my soul.

“I love mentoring men,” he concluded. “I love giving men permission to turn on their own switch to be magnificent. I love going up to a man on the weekend and tell him he’s doing a good job. Men go to the weekend from their ordinary lives where they can do something extra-ordinary and excellent. They can do little jobs with great attention. It comes off as magic that men create. Nobody comes to the weekend asking ‘how can I screw up the weekend” but asking ‘how can I be the best?’ Men want to be their best. It’s up to the leadership to inspire them to be their best. I can’t do it alone. I need everybody. I need them and they need me. It’s a synergy of energy. It’s a container that we build to transform lives.”

© 2006 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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