Looking after your health requires more than maintaining the physical body; we also need to ensure we’re looking after our mental health. Regardless of gender, age, cultural or socio-economic background, anyone may be affected by poor mental health at some stage in their life. When it comes to men, many find it difficult to share their difficult experiences with others, and adhere to misguided and outdated notions of masculinity by simply ‘manning up’ or sweeping their struggles under the carpet.
The Movember Foundation points out that 1 in 2 Australian men have had a mental health problem at some point in their life, and 1 in 8 men will experience depression in their lifetime. Starting a conversation is often the best first step to seeking support and guidance. To kick start our own conversation, AGOGA is thrilled to welcome Mike Campbell, Man Coach and author of Amazon #1 best seller Unleash Your Alpha, whose mission is to challenge the current model of masculinity to help men get more out of life.
Let’s start the conversation
Sometimes we need to ask the tough questions, and Mike certainly does that in this guest blog as we dive into how our physical training ties into our own confidence, sense of self and values. Want to continue the conversation for yourself (or perhaps a man in your life)? Mike is running an incredible workshop, Beyond The Beers – Conversations & Cool Shit For Men, on Saturday 20th August. Keep reading to find out about the special discounted offer for our AGOGA community (including a free copy of Mike’s book).
Over to you Mike!
“In 2016, more than ever men are feeling stuck, lost & detached.
Depression, anxiety and suicide rates are frighteningly high in the male population. Every day in Australia seven people commit suicide, five of who are men. It’s become clear that so many men are struggling in some way, suffering in silence; too afraid to open up to other guys and have a decent chat beyond the surface banter and meaningless small talk.
It could be so simple, and it could be instrumentally significant.
Instead we often sink deeper into our internal man cave of self-doubt and fear; the inner voice that says we should have the answers ourselves.
I’m Mike Campbell, and I’m a man coach. My mission is to bring about a new model of manhood, one that sees strong yet vulnerable, compassionate, powerful and open men being their best and showing up more authentically in the world. I do this by challenging the current model of masculinity to help men step out from behind stereotypes to find significance, self-worth and personal power in order to show up in the world as themselves – courageous, strong, empathetic – in order to perform better and get more out of life.
Over the years I’ve seen the same problems coming up for men, which while based around not being satisfied physically and mentally, really spoke to our reluctance to talk about what’s really going on with us and what’s actually important to us as men.
Often the start is not having the internal conversation around what’s actually important to us, so we end up chasing ideals, bowing to conditioning and pressures that aren’t in line with our personal values.
I wholeheartedly believe that this inability and unavailability to have more meaningful conversations with other men is a big contributor to the trends we are seeing in mental illness (and general health) with men, and an indicator of where we’re at… much of which is predicated on the confusing message of what it means to be a man.
We often avoid having the kind of conversations that make us uncomfortable, the ones that we wish we could have. Not only can these conversations help us expand and grow, but they can help other men do so too.
Instead what many of us do is turn to the physical. We think if we can get in better shape we’ll look and feel better, and from that confidence will come. However, if we’re to be honest with ourselves, this can often be based around seeking external validation, which is a hollow and unfulfilling pursuit.
While being in good physical shape is a no-brainer, what we must do is question our genuine reasons for doing so. Is it because we want to feel better, healthy and able to perform? Is it about self-respect, pride and a sense of achievement? Or is it more around what other people will think of us, or perhaps building up the confidence to approach that crush you have?
What I found a long time ago working with men on the ‘physical’ is that there is always something beneath these surface goals, and we must get to them in order to understand the reasons behind our actions, to take full ownership of what motivates us, and if need be, get a renewed perspective on more intrinsic reasons for physical improvement.
Because at the end of the day, external validation, while nice, is short and fleeting. It has no substance for genuine fulfilment. We must internalise what drives us. So ask yourself – why do I seek a certain body? Why do I train?
Really challenge your reasons. If you find that it’s about what others think, then ask yourself what would cause you to have the highest sense of personal pride and self-respect? What does that ideal body/fitness goal provide you? Does it lead to confidence, which in turns leads to your ability and willingness to approach a potential date, which is about connecting with someone, which is about human connection… You see where I’m going here.
I’ll tell you now, having worked with hundreds of men around this over the years, it’s often linked to connection, respect, significance, acceptance and being desired. Those things are external motivators, but they’re also basic human drivers, there’s nothing wrong with them if you know it and own it, especially off the back of self-respect and pride.
You teach the world how to treat you, so in order to receive these things – respect and acceptance – you must first show the world you have them for yourself.
How do I do this?
It starts by having the tougher conversations with ourselves:
- Who am I?
- What do I stand for?
- What drives me? What holds me back and what fears do I have?
- What do I need to feel to be most fulfilled?
- What does success look like to me?
From here we can gain clarity around our behaviours and show up more authentically (and confidently) in the world ready to embrace more meaningful conversations in our personal, social, professional relationships.
When you can shake the concern over what others think and more confidently be you, you’ll do the things that matter to you, align with people who matter to you and bring out the best in you. You’ll act in ways that have you in alignment with your values, instead of trying to be something you think you’re supposed to be; giving in to the conditioning of what a man should be.
This is why I do what I do, to change the stereotype and make it OK for men to share, to be vulnerable and be a strong masculine man, for men to be their best authentic selves and own what’s important to them. First though, we must disrupt the status quo and sometimes we need that to be a simple first step, otherwise things can be a bit too confronting and daunting.
Which is why I’ve created just a first step; Beyond The Beers – Conversations & Cool Shit For Men on Saturday 20th August in Sydney.
It’s a day full of varying chats, talks and experiences to help equip men with the perspective and tools to have the more meaningful conversations in his life. You’ll understand your own personal measures of success and be able to use them to guide your life. You’ll leave understanding that true masculine power lies in vulnerability.
And most importantly, you’ll leave with an action plan for integrating this into your day-to-day life!
But it’s not all serious talk. It’s not all intense. There’s going to be awesome craft beer and drams of whisky to be had, plus loads of other ‘cool shit’. Hard work and no play makes a dull man, and dull men we are not. So get out of neutral, kick up your life a few gears and come to the event – you’ll be glad you did.
For the AGOGA community, I’m offering a special 10% discount + giving a free copy of my book to each Agogian attendee. Simply head to Beyond the Beers and purchase your ticket using the code ‘agogabtbtix‘ – too easy!