Since my training weekend, I can truly say I enjoy the path I’m on. I still have much work to do, but I live with a sense of personal mission and enjoy a bond with other men who are committed to supporting me in that work. That bond sometimes feels like a safety net, and other times like my feet are being held to the fire, but I always know that support is there. It has allowed me to develop a personal sense of integrity and accountability. I can look squarely at who I am, how I make choices, and when I act in ways that uphold my mission – and when those ways undermine it. I find it possible both to accept myself as I am, and also commit to being a better man without thinking there’s something wrong with me. And instead of a vague sense of something going on inside, I now experience emotions of joy, anger, sadness and fear deep in my gut.
While all these changes seem to be directed inward, I find that my focus has actually turned outward. Looking back, I realize the thing about being lost was that I couldn’t enjoy the scenery around me – I was too preoccupied with trying to find a way out. Now, my mission of connection feels like something that engages me everyday. I always felt called to service, but that call has evolved from “I should” or “I have to” to “I choose to.” No matter what I’m working on, my service often boils down simply to seeing the people in front of me for who they are, without letting my judgments, fears and personal needs cloud my vision. Whether or not the people in my world consciously share my vision, I feel most alive and most empowered when I connect to them without needing them to be something else. Yet somehow their defenses drop anyway and they show up in surprising ways. “Changing the world one man at a time” has become less about “doing to” and more about “being in.” From that place, I experience the magic of a community that improves the quality of life for all.
George Small July 22, 2016