Developing Healthy Masculinity and Leadership Skills in Men

In the wake of the recent political drama, the #metoo movement, and black lives matter I’ve had many conversations with a longtime friend, Bob Devlin about how to foster a healthy masculinity and strong leadership skills. Bob is an Executive Consultant and Founder of Transformation Strategies, who is doing amazing work with executive teams around the world. In the spring of 2019, we will be offering a workshop for men interested in taking a deeper look at these issues. Below is an article about this work.     -Carl Siegel

The Hero’s Journey

by Bob Devlin

In recent cohorts, we’ve used the Hero’s Journey metaphor to help leaders explore the important events in their lives that make them who they are today. Some are joyful, mountaintop experiences and others are ones of deep questioning, loss, and grief … the two ends of the spectrum of our shared humanity.

A Call to Action

So what is this Hero’s Journey and how is it relevant to us mere mortals? Joseph Campbell, mythologist extraordinaire, studied myths and cultural stories from across the world and from the dawn of time. From Campbell’s life-long inquiry emerged a metastory that mirrors the human story, one that each of us can relate to in our own lives. It begins with a call to action or adventure – which can be an impulse from our inner soul calling us to say yes to an experience, commitment, relationship or personal journey, or an external circumstance like the loss of a loved one or saying yes to a great professional opportunity that turns out to be a huge step.

Crossing the Threshold

Once we say yes, or yes is said for us, we cross a threshold – one over which there is no return. What we learn in crossing it, changes us forever – and knowing what we have come to know, there is no returning home.
With this yes, begins the descent – into the proverbial dark night of the soul, or the belly of the whale – often raw emotions, fear, anxiety, self-doubt, sleepless nights. This begins a phase, that had we understood what awaited us, we may not have crossed the threshold in the first place. Yet we understand that there is only one way… and that is forward into the unknown and unknowing. As we stay the course, we begin to find support along the way, helpers emerge, guides and mentors, leading us down a dimly lit path forward, that slowly gets brighter, step-by-step until the dawn of a new day begins to appear. Emerging into the dawn, we have gained resilience, wisdom, strength, and skill that could only be obtained by undertaking the journey – we are stronger, wiser and more able to engage in the challenges at hand and ahead.

In Your Own Life

If you reflect on your own life, you will see elements of the hero’s journey in your own journey. In exploring further, you’ll come to understand the fruits obtained, your sources of wisdom and credibility and be able to live these intentionally. You may ask:

So what’s actually heroic about my life … are we really all heroes in the unfolding narratives of our lives?

Consider this: the more we push out toward the edges of our experiences: leaning into our life-giving passions that bring joy and fulfillment … and attending to the great challenges of dreams unfulfilled, losses and failures, the more we experience the breadth of our humanity. And interestingly the more we experience our humanity, the more able we are to connect with others in theirs and that which deeply matters.


So what does this all have to do with leadership? My good friend and colleague Peter Beddowes, former Dean of London’s Ashridge Business School and consultant to CEOs asks:

Why would I follow you … no really, what is it about you that would compel me to follow you?

The answer at one level is that you’re competent and trustworthy – and that gets us a good way down the road. But there’s more, I likely would allow you to lead me into the deepest challenges because I trust you – not only that you are well experienced, true to your word, delivering on your promises, but that you also know something about the deep challenges of being human. That when the chips are down and we’re unsure about which way to go, you’ll know how to stand with me in that scary, unknowing place, and together we’ll find a good way forward.

Your Journey

Take a moment – think about thresholds you’ve crossed and the journeys that ensued… think about thresholds you stand before today, wondering if you should cross, if you’ll have the courage to take the step, if this is the right time… Explore these moments of truth for yourself and listen in your conversations with others about the thresholds in their lives, past and present, welcomed and feared. Tell your stories, elicit theirs … learn from each other. Through this emerges a whole new way of leading – one that connects the head, heart, and gut – providing a foundation for taking the risks that lead to greatness and remarkable things.

Learn More

Interested in getting more information on our 2019 Spring workshop: The True Hero’s Journey: Leading with Courage and Purpose? Let me know by emailing me at carl.siegel@imagocenterdc.com