by Ed Gurowitz
In MKP we have a variety of cultural values – integrity, support, brotherhood, inclusion, and others. One that goes unnoticed in my judgment is the culture of invitation. Starting in the NWTA and in all our circles and trainings we say “any man can pass on any process.” Men are invited to participate, not required or pressured to participate.
Similarly, when we have opportunities to share the possibilities that MKP holds, again starting with the NWTA, with other men, in my experience Warrior Brothers are careful to invite men rather than to convince or pressure their friends and family. When I speak at Homecoming Celebrations about the mission and vision of MKP and the activities that make those real in the world, I end by looking around at the new brothers and their families and friends and say “So I’m guessing you’re waiting for the sales pitch, right?” When heads nod and smiles appear, I say “OK, here it is: If you’re ready, do it – that’s it!” The sense of relief in the room is palpable – the larger culture is so full of sales, hype, and pressure, that it’s a pleasure to be treated like an adult!
I’ve worked for training organizations that do not have this culture of invitation, that apply sales pitches, pressure, and convincing to a degree that for every person they sign up, they turn off three. MKP would not be MKP as we know it if we did that, and I treasure that about us.
Invitation is, in some ways, harder than sales or pressure or convincing. The word convince is interesting – it starts out well with the Latin root con- which means together, but then takes a difficult turn with -vince, to win. Together they mean “to overcome in argument.” In MKP, we do things differently – a similar word, converse – con- again, but then -verse – to turn. We listen to the other person’s point of view and turn to face their world and see it as they see it. For many people it’s that invitation – to be listened to and respected – that calls them to MKP.
Invitation needs that conversation. Two people talking in a safe, open environment where the uninitiated man can speak his truth and share his pain. Mostly in MKP this happens one on one, but increasingly we are creating opportunities on a wider scale – open I Groups, Men’s Open Circles, half-day and full-day Circles of Men to name a few. These and other venues provide the safety and listening to allow men to discover the value of circles of men for themselves.
All of us are familiar with inviting people – to dinner, to parties, to celebrations, etc. – so that isn’t the tricky part. When we invite someone, say, to a birthday party we usually ask them to respond. While the value of an RSVP to the inviter is that we know who and how many to plan for, there is also a value to the invitee – the request for a response gives the invitee an opportunity to make a commitment and put it into action by responding – the response to an invitation is a promise, and promises have power – they create a future that, without the promise, would be left to chance. If you and I promise to have lunch next Tuesday, the chances of that happening, assuming we’re people whose word means something, are very good. Without the promise, it’s possible we might be at the same restaurant at the same time on Tuesday, and we might decide to have lunch, but it’s not very likely.
So I’m inviting you to take on a new practice – when you invite a man to your I Group, to the NWTA, to a Homecoming Celebration, to whatever, ask for a response along the lines of “do you accept my invitation?” and if he does, follow up as the event draws near – let him know that your invitation was a committed one – not what I call a “Hollywood Invitation” (sorry, LA brothers, but you know what I mean) – “let’s have lunch sometime!”.
Do that, and we’ll build up a genuine culture of invitation and, along with it, an atmosphere where men feel valued and welcomed and come to find out that this is the place and these are the men they’ve been looking for.