March 16, 2021

20 : Reinventing Masculinity with Compassion and Connection with Ed Adams & Ed Frauenheim


"Liberating masculinity is not a product. It's a process of growing up and a process of growing down. Growing up is having life experiences. Growing down as finding deeper meaning and involvement." - Ed Adams

Welcome to The Mindful FIRE Podcast, where we explore living mindfully on the path to financial independence and beyond. I'm your host, Adam Coelho and I'm so glad you're here.

On today's episode, I'm joined by Ed Adams and Ed Frauenheim, the authors of the book, Reinventing Masculinity, The Liberating Power of Compassion and Connection.

On today's episode, we explore something a little bit different. We explore what it means to be a man and how the idea of masculinity is changing and how that benefits both men and women alike.

While today's conversation isn't directly about financial independence or mindfulness, although we do touch on both of those topics, it really explores what it means to show up fully in our life. Are we carrying the beliefs and ways of being that society is telling us to do, rather than truly getting in touch with who we really are and what it means to be human.

 I really enjoyed this conversation with Ed Frauenheim and Ed Adams, and I hope that you enjoyed it as well.

Subscribe to receive new episodes and guided meditations every Tuesday.

Resources : 

Each Tuesday I release a guided meditation or inspiring interview on the topics of mindfulness and financial independence. Subscribe for future meditations and episodes!

Transcript

Welcome to The Mindful FIRE Podcast, where we explore living mindfully on the path to financial independence and beyond. I'm your host, Adam Coelho and I'm so glad you're here. 

On today's episode, I'm joined by Ed Adams and Ed Frauenheim, the authors of the book, Reinventing Masculinity, The Liberating Power of Compassion and Connection.

 On today's episode, we explore something a little bit different. We explore what it means to be a man and how the idea of masculinity is changing and how that benefits both men and women alike.

 And while today's conversation, isn't directly about financial independence or mindfulness, although we do touch on both of those topics, it really explores what it means to show up fully in our life. Are we carrying the beliefs and ways of being that society is telling us to do, rather than truly getting in touch with who we really are and what it means to be human.

 You can check out the full show notes, including all of the resources, books, and links that we discussed in the mindfulfire.org/20.

  I really enjoyed this conversation with Ed Frauenheim and Ed Adams, and I hope that you enjoyed as well. 

Let's jump into today's episode. 

Adam Coelho: [00:01:28] Welcome to The Mindful FIRE Podcast Ed Adams and Ed Frauenheim.

It's so good to have you here. 

Ed Adams: [00:01:34] It's good to be here. Thank you for having us. 

Ed Frauenheim: [00:01:37] Great to be here, Adam. 

 Adam Coelho: [00:01:38] I read your book, Reinventing Masculinity, The Liberating Power of Compassion and Connection and I really am excited to dive into it with you both today. So thank you for being here. 

So I'd love to start by  having you share a little bit about yourselves and how you came together to write this book.  Perhaps Ed Adams, would you like to go first?

Ed Adams: [00:02:03] I'm a clinical psychologist and I did my doctoral work at Rutgers University and received a doctorate many years ago and started a private practice.  In that private practice, I was working with two partners that I brought in.

And in the course of time, I decided that I not only wanted to be a psychologist, but I wanted to do art; painting and sculpture.  That created a lot of conflict within our practice.  So it ended up that I left that practice and was able to pursue not only the psychology, but also the art but in the process, I found myself having lost my male friendships.

And so I started a clinical group that was based on the treatment of men because there were no groups around for men to join.   The clinical group lasted about six months.  I began to realize that the men who were attending were changing. And it wasn't because of the therapy. It was because they were with each other in a way that was shame-free and very powerful.

So I changed it from a clinical group to a, more of a coaching kind of atmosphere. That group eventually merged into men, mentoring men. And which is a non-profit organization devoted to helping men find Richard deeper lives.  It began my focus on understanding male psychology and really focusing in on the treatment of men in  many ways in relationships or in their own transitions in their own conflicts in their own fears and so on.

 Adam Coelho: [00:03:51] Ed F would love to hear about your background and how you came to this work and writing this book. 

Ed Frauenheim: [00:03:56] Sure. I am a writer. It's a core professional identity.

I've been a journalist at a daily newspaper at some trade publications. In the last seven years or so. I was at Great Place To Work, which is a research and consulting firm focused on employee surveys and workplace culture.  Gradually over time, I gravitated to what makes for a great workplace and was noticing that men really needed to show up differently than how we were taught to thrive in today's work workplace.

 The old models of being the barking boss, top-down command and control kind of general, we're really not as successful as they were. If they ever were completely successful. And that dovetailed with kind of a personal interest in masculinity where I grew up in and really did not fit so well into the traditional rules of how to be a man being strong, being a dominating aggressive guy.

So I was really compelled to explore this topic.  To connect the dots of how Ed and I connected and wrote this book. I'd, co-written a couple of other books and I had the same publishing company as Ed's wife, Marilee Adams, and she and I were at an authors retreat. And we started talking about our current projects and she learned that I was interested in masculinity.

And so my Ed is it an expert   and he had  helped publish these new psychological guidelines from the American Psychological Association about men and masculinities that really were getting a lot of controversy in the public sphere. So that led us to kinda have some conversation and realize, yeah, we'd love to write a book about how we really need to reinvent masculinity today.

Adam Coelho: [00:05:30] Very good. Thank you for doing that. And I would love to dive into the books concepts a little bit.  Let's start with why this book needed to be written.

 Ed Adams: [00:05:41] If you go into a bookstore and you went to the gender studies area, you would be hard pressed to find a A book that is written for men about their masculinity and about manhood that is practical and applied and make sense for the 21st century.  So there is a emptiness in that space and there are books about men and about the problems men have, but we noticed that there's nothing that is taking it into not only a description of what's problematic, but what can be done about it and what direction men need to take in order to meet the demands of the 21st century.

 We wrote this book intended for men and women. Intended for an audience that could be interested in positive change in men. And we wanted it to be a book that was easily read and understood, not a lot of psychobabble in it and practical and applied.  We really feel that it is a filling a major gap and is useful for clinicians. It's useful for the average person.

It's useful for women to understand men. It's important for men to read and get a vision of where to go in, in their pursuit of a deeper masculinity. That, that was our purpose behind it. 

 Ed Frauenheim: [00:07:13] Not only was this gap in the literature, if you will , but  the problem is so urgent.

The ed was alluding to that, the masculinity that we've been taught and we've really been guided to, to adopt in our culture for thousands of years, we would call it outdated. Unhealthy and dangerous. And  we name it in the book as a confined masculinity.  We are seeing in the news and a daily basis why do we need to evolve from that confined masculinity to a liberating masculinity that really frees men and all those around them to live a fuller and more meaningful lives.

Adam Coelho: [00:07:48] So let's talk about confined masculinity. What are the characteristics of confined masculinity, the default masculinity that we're all taught as we grow up? 

Ed Frauenheim: [00:07:59] Confined masculinity  we came up with to characterize  the conventional ways we're taught to be mad.  We came to this term because we noticed that there. Are very limited ways that men are really taught  to show up in terms of the roles they can play, as well as the ways we can relate to others.

So when we talk about these limited roles, they're really just a few that, that are sanctioned by the culture. And those include the protector, the provider, and perhaps the conquer. 

  In terms of how we relate to others, we're really supposed to be rocks or islands self-made men. And to not show emotion in terms of how we show up in our connections to others.

So when we have these limitations in our lives we ended up with those problems you mentioned before that we're showing up in  an unhealthy way and sometimes a dangerous way. Outdated because we're not really fitting in with the 21st century and the needs to be more connected to each other, more emotionally intelligent and be more compassionate in our personal lives, in our work lives, and also in society. When we think about our global relationships. So those are some of the problems with confined Masculinity . 

Ed, feel free to add to that or jump in. 

Ed Adams: [00:09:06] I think it's important underscore that we do not see men as toxic. We do not see men as broken or wrong. We see men as for many men self crippled by following the traditional perspectives of what it means to be a man.

So in the book we steered away from talking about Toxic masculinity, which has been a a favorite phrase in popular culture.   We talk more about how confined masculinity   creates a situation where men are tripping over themselves and trying to find a way to express themselves and live larger lives.

And yet are pulled back by the ideas that if they express themselves in this way or that way, they're going contrary to the rules of masculinity that are subtly taught. No one's ever sat down with a man and said, here are the rules, but somehow we tend to acquire them, require them through the culture.

We acquire them through the media, through TV, through our role models or our fathers brothers men politicians men in the culture at large. But they tend to be the same.  Ed described  a lot of those characteristics that we all grow up with that typically we need to shed.

Adam Coelho: [00:10:33] Yeah, so definitely can see how these outdated rules can be affecting us in a lot of different ways. 

Can you give some examples of how confined masculinity can show up in a man's life that might limit them? 

Ed Adams: [00:10:51] Clinically  a lot of the time in my experience with men, for example, they are fearful of expressing vulnerability even to their closest person in their life, like their wife or their best friend or their partner. Because one of the man rules said that we're not supposed to be vulnerable, that we will be taken advantage of.

And a lot of our experiences validate that particularly when we were adolescents and we had something where we either In a locker room or we're on a date or something. We were exposed to that vulnerability and we're wounded by that. So we learned to grin and bear it to, to be John Wayne's and hold ourselves back.

And that doesn't work well in relationships. It doesn't work well in developing intimacy or connectedness, a deeper involvement, whether it's with a wife, a partner, or your kids, or your larger family. And and because of that on that one factor alone men are often surprised that the relationships aren't working the way they.

We'd like them to work. And when they begin to look at.  All of the factors that go into why a relationship is broken or breaking certainly the idea of vulnerability and willingness to be vulnerable, open with your feelings, more expressive about what you need and what you want and what you like.

And don't like, in other words, ones. Own authentic self. The more that you move in that direction the the more real, the relationship becomes more you hide from that. The more the relationship becomes hollowed out without a soul without deeper context or meaning. So that's one way that I see it play out in day-to-day life.

 Ed Frauenheim: [00:12:49] Adam, I could add we've got some good stories in the book about some events patients. Some of the men have men of M3 that have really had that cramped and really Stunted relationship problem. Thanks to the masculinity that they were, they had been adopting. 

I could also add that in the work world. We see this the confined masculinity show up and really hurt men. The work world of the 21st century, as we see it is really becoming a faster flatter fairness focused work world, where things are moving much more quickly than they have ever. In the past with digital disruptions new competitors are rising.

Organizations can't rely on that previous model of a top-down boss only treating the lower ranking folks as ways of gathering information, and then information gets set up at the top and then they get a decision aid since back down and tells them what to do. That's too slow. You need to have people sensing and responding to, to do new changes.

That's also leading to flatter organizations. You're having ad hoc teams cross-functional teams. And where you have to use persuasion to make a point you need to develop psychological safety on your teams which requires, an emotional intelligence and not a stoicism minute and a willingness to be vulnerable is that was talking about.

And in the fairness focus world, we're past the me too moment. We now have a black lives matter movement. As part of our world, we have to be mindful of our privilege, to be very much about equity in the way we show up at work. So if you're showing up as an old school boss and we have a story of a guy named Travis in the book who was being that sort of micromanager didn't care about the emotional lives of his team did listen to them.

It was, he was the guy telling them team what to do. He was not succeeding and that's more and more what's happening in today's work world. If you show up with a confined masculinity at work, it's not going to serve you, and it's not going to serve your organization.

 Adam Coelho: [00:14:40] I remember that story in the book. It seems like that was working for him to a point, but at some point it started to break down and the flaws in his approach really became exposed  to himself. And certainly the team was well aware of it. And so he needed to evolve. If he was going to get the team to trust him and follow him and if they were going to succeed together.  That was a great example in the book. 

Ed Frauenheim: [00:15:07] To build on what you just said, Adam. Travis has a happy ending to his story at work where he started to embrace what we would call liberating masculinity. Became more willing to be vulnerable.

 Acknowledged he doesn't have all the answers and ultimately listened to his team. Became a more collaborative, not just a competitive professional so that he listened to their ideas for meeting their sales targets at this tech company. And ultimately, even though he didn't agree with their strategy, the team's ideas for going after new sales, he shared power; let the team decide that the course, and then they kicked butt. If you will. They met their sales goal because they were so energized by having a say at work, which is what a lot of millennials and younger people expect these days. And Travis re reshaped not only his leadership, but his way of being  a man in the world, such that he's really embraced liberating masculinity and taking this more seriously, the idea of work-life balance, the idea of collaborating and sharing authority with others along the way. 

 Adam Coelho: [00:16:06] Yeah.  It was a really interesting story. And, for me, in my career, I've found that, when I've succeeded, most it's been because of the relationships that I've been able to build, the connections that I've been able to make with both my colleagues and my clients.

I work in a client facing role. So a lot of it's interacting with them,  at the beginning of my career, I would think, Oh, I have to have, beginning, most of my career, I should say, I thought, Oh, I have to have the right answer. I need to look like I know it all. And I,  got it all figured out, but in reality, the more I show up with just I'm a real person, I'm just here trying to help you connecting with you saying, look, I might not know all the answers, but I'm going to work hard to figure it out for you.

The relationships have been so much stronger. The progress has been better because we trust each other. We're authentically showing up in a way where it's we don't need to pretend. We're just people trying to make a living, trying to figure things out and I've more and more figured out like that is really my main skill. My main skill is not being the most organized person or the smartest person or. Whatever. It's really connecting with people, building trust with people and solving problems together. And the more I lean into that, the better my results are and the less stressed out I am. So I'm trying to live that, but easier said than done.  

Ed Frauenheim: [00:17:37] Thanks for sharing that Adam. I think Ed and I  mentioned this in the book. If not, we should have that, the research at Google itself, we're where you've been shows that the teams that are most effective are the ones where you can show up as you just described, right? As a real person with vulnerabilities where there's psychological safety and people can not worry about being mocked or having to.

To present as perfect.  And that your guys' own research has been really important. I think in helping people see, it wasn't necessarily the highest PhDs on the team and the highest number of PhDs or degrees or the most elite universities, it's where people felt they could be authentic.

That's where you had the greatest team performance. So hats off to what you guys have done there to help make that point. 

Adam Coelho: [00:18:18] Yeah. 

Ed Adams: [00:18:19] Often suggest to the men in men mentoring men to show up for the meetings with perception that I'm not the most important person in the room.

You are. And if each man has that perspective, that he's not the most important person that the other men are. And we leave ego and competition and trying to be witty and trying to be, dance that dance at the door. Then the meeting gets real. Because we can start to talk about important real life kinds  of experiences that we're having and sharing with one another.

It takes away the the damage competitiveness. Can often do. And it also we've operated in men, mentoring men with only one rule ever. And that is no man shames another man. And in that context, it creates an atmosphere of safety and in that safety. Important things can happen because they're real again they're not pretend they're not the we take off the mask and what's left after you take off the mask is our true human self.

Adam Coelho: [00:19:34] This idea of confined masculinity, when I think back, one of you said something about like, when we're at a, was you about when we were younger and like on a date or whatever I, I have like very vivid memories of crying in school, about a girl. I was super jealous and I was like overwhelming to the point where I was like definitely getting shamed and then was like, I'm never doing that again. I don't know where I was going with that, but just this idea of confined masculinity, being something that we learn when we're young .

Ed Adams: [00:20:05] I think you're moving in an important direction because a lot of our experiences of how to be an adult man are informed by our adolescent wounds. And our adolescent wounds are inflicted by our own thinking or inflicted by the way we interact with peers or inflicted  sometimes not unintentionally by our parents and sometimes intentionally.

 I'll give you something to cry about. We're stopped crying or don't be a sissy deal with it, handle it. I don't want to hear those feelings. I don't want to listen to that. Just solve your own problem. All of these things are conveyed at very vulnerable times in our early manhood.

Since they're being told to us by  people we decide naturally that they may be telling me the truth. I. Shouldn't talk about my feelings. I shouldn't show my wound. I should grin and bear it. And  there's no one typically around to correct that and we don't have the mechanism inside to self-regulate or self correct.

So  the beliefs become pretty embedded. And it's through trial and error very often. In my own life, I applied a lot of those what I referred to as silly man rules just operated in my first marriage. The reason I'm telling you it was my first marriage is because that didn't work out real well.

And a lot of it had not all of it, but a lot of it had to do with applying rules that simply don't sustain a loving, caring relationship. 

 Adam Coelho: [00:21:48] That brings up a good point as well.  This is not just important for men. Can you talk a little bit about how this concept of moving from a confined masculinity to a liberating masculinity is important to women as well.

Ed Frauenheim: [00:22:03] I can pop in here first on that and say that we thought about having a chapter at on women's role in, in liberating masculinity and re and reinventing masculinity, and couldn't quite get the tone.  But it is an important role. We want to make clear that this work of shifting from a confined masculinity to that liberating one where we're really freeing ourselves is the work of men.

It's our work.  Don't want to put the responsibility on women for that. At the same time, women can support men in super powerful ways to make that change.   At the same time they can also make it hard to make the shift. If a man is trying to be more vulnerable, be more honest about feeling uncertain about certain things or pained about some things.

And a woman is is that the kind of man I want or man up, those kinds of comments can be, can make it quite difficult to make this shift. Cause it's a difficult transition. I know in my own personal life, I'm very grateful to have a wife who's being really supportive.

I'm making a transition right now from working at my, my old company, great place to work for many years to an independent professional life. And the other day I was just exhausted from, the stresses of this shift. And my wife, Rowena was like, Just take a nap. It wasn't, it was like she recognized like the pole that was taking on me and rather than try to give me a message that was about like the old school buck up and pull yourself up by the bootstraps and tough it out.

It was like, she was mindful of sending a message that is in keeping with what our messages, which is to say lending, letting guys. Be real. So women play an important role. It's our work, but they play an important role and can really accelerate this progress. 

Ed Adams: [00:23:43]  And if women aren't on board with encouraging and seeing the value of a man's journey, moving towards a more liberating masculinity she could often create double binds in his life.

For example, she may say, I really want you to be more accessible. I want us to have closer time together. I want us to be more intimate. And then maybe an hour later start looking at schools. One of the kids could go to that costs a fortune. And the only way that could be afforded would be.

By his working. So he's in a bind. Do I work more and earn more to provide for the family and the way that my wife expects or do I find a way to limit that so  I'm more accessible to her. I'm less stressed. I'm less, less tied into knots because of work.

And women very often want, a man to be more emotionally available but aren't sometimes aware of how they are coming across, supporting a more traditional or confined way of  manhood. And so the book should for women who read it should allow them to become aware of that and through the awareness comes the possibility of change.

And so that's why we're hoping as many women read the book as men because they're an integral part of the change that needs to occur. 

 Adam Coelho: [00:25:21] So what are the benefits to women for supporting this work and for men evolving into this liberating masculinity, what are the benefits to them? 

 Ed Adams: [00:25:32] They have a more  fully human partner or men to relate to.

They have frankly happier men. Men who moved towards liberating, which means moving more towards his fuller humanity and being able to see that he's multi-dimensional.

 As Ed was saying before, a man could be seeing that he's a lover, that he's a visionary or a King that he is a playmate. That he is a magician.

He can turn a day's work into a refrigerator kind of thing. That he is a warrior going to work every day.  My father was a world war II veteran who had PTSD and had to have a job or took a job, driving a bread truck, where he had to wake up three o'clock every morning to go to work.

That was the work of a warrior.  He sacrificed himself as he did in the military for the benefit of the rest of us.  But there was no expectation for him to to do anything different . We're creating for women an expectation to see men differently, to see them more able to provide for them emotionally to protect them in a way that goes beyond.

As we said in the book, a man having a 357 Magnum in his bedroom drawer. That has protection is by his involvement in his participation, in the growth of the kids. And his wife and being at work in a way that is fully more fully satisfying to him. So in the end, the more liberating a man becomes there's a correlation between that and an expression of happiness in life or satisfaction of life. And I think frankly, it's good to be married to a man who is satisfied and loves life. 

 Ed Frauenheim: [00:27:27] We can extend all those great things from  those personal relationships to  the realms of work and the world as well.   

We talked about this in the book that if men are showing up in this liberating way at work women and everybody are going to have a better experience at work, you're going to have a more humane culture, a culture that is got greater emotional intelligence and compassion involved in it. More purpose driven workplaces, because men are seeing themselves as not just providers or protectors, but they actually are open to more higher minded goals.

And that  frees women to not have to show up in work with the equivalent of the shoulder pads of the eighties, they don't have to show up as in this kind of quote unquote masculine way only, but you can be a more fully a human person, whether you're a woman or man bringing both the kind of assertiveness, the kind of clarity, the direction and analysis that are maybe  historically male characteristics and the female characteristics of the perceptiveness of relationship building. We're saying everybody should be able to have all of these human traits. And then that leads to a better workplace, but it also leads to a better world, if men see themselves as fully human, everybody, not in terms of tribal groups, where we're only going to defend our own small tribe  and ignore the way in which the whole planet and it must work together in the 21st century to solve problems like climate change, avoid, pandemic crises, like we just went through to avoid nuclear  annihilation. So there's really a better world at home at work and in our society global society, when we can move to this liberating masculinity.

Adam Coelho: [00:29:01] Yeah. Thank you for sharing that. Cause I think it is. Important that we all understand that this is, this work is not important just for men to improve their lives, but their lives touch other people, right? They touch women's lives and their family, their coworkers. And so it's important to highlight why it's so important to do this work, to impact everyone else that we're connected to.

  I'd love to have you define liberating masculinity . What are the characteristics of liberating masculinity?

Ed Adams: [00:29:34] Liberating masculinity is not a product. It's a process of growing up and a process of growing down. Growing up is having life experiences. Growing down as finding deeper meaning and involvement. And developing in a sense, becoming, participating in the anima Mundey or the soul of the world.

And developing a sense  of mindfulness or enrichment or awareness that life is a gift and should be taken advantage of because it is such a fortuitous thing to have occurred to each of us to be born into this human body.  Liberating masculinity is one in which men I'm really aware there of life and aware of themselves and aware of others in a compassionate and connected kind of way. And become stewards of the earth.

Become aware that the natural environment is in our hands and we have to pay attention to that.  Liberating man masculinity cares about others from a not only an I perspective, but a me and we perspective as we. Discuss in the book that my needs are important, but yours are too.

And sometimes your needs are more important than mine. And as I said earlier the perspective that I'm not the most important person in the room, And so there's a humility to that. There's an awareness of our impact on others by actions we do, or inactions that we take and that we're responsible for each other.

We're interdependent with each other. I often say to people that if we put in this room for example, if you put into your room, Adam, where you are, all the people involved at that created your shirt or your top you wouldn't have room to stand truck drivers and farmers and seamstresses and business people.

And so on, we are. Totally interdependent with one another. And part of the illusion of confined masculinity is that not interdependent. And so what could go wrong if we think that we aren't interdependent with each other all sorts of things.  Liberating masculinity is a response to the problems that confinement creates.

 Ed Frauenheim: [00:32:13] That was great. Just wanted to add one thing in terms of the work context. That awareness piece Ed was getting at. When we think about  men and work, it's really a willingness to take a close look at the privileges we've had and the power we often have as men and often, for us white guys, white men or straight white men That we have to re-examine this idea that we're self-made as I was just getting at, we are interdependent rather than we often have had benefited from say a very great suburban school in my case tendencies to privilege men and boys in school and in the workplace.

So that's part of the the challenge is for, in this fairness focused world for us guys to acknowledge that, maybe we have had benefits or advantages that others haven't had and to really step up and be allies advocates for others. And there's great examples of men doing this, including at the highest levels of business. 

One we mentioned the book is Chuck Robbins the CEO of Cisco, the technology giant.  The creative, the internet plumbing for us and the WebEx tools been used, like crazy during the pandemic and a shelter in place arrangements. We tell a story of how he had a dream, where he was visiting a homeless encampment in San Jose, in the Silicon Valley area of the Bay area and saw the face of this pastor and his father.

And that, that inspired him the next day to wake up and say, I'm going to do something about this problem. I'm going to call the mayor of San Jose. And for him to see himself as connected to his community and to want to do something with his organization to help solve this problem. This is an example of what we're talking about with the liberating masculinity.

It's compassionate, it's connected. It's not like I'm a going to keep all the business stuff on the side and just worry about maximizing shareholder value. No. He sees a stakeholder framework for Cisco and really has supercharged Cisco's philanthropy in recent years. And making a difference in homelessness is just one example.

So there are a lot of great role models to follow when this new and this new way of being a man.

Ed Adams: [00:34:11] Yeah. Something that is well stated. And what I think it's important to articulate. What we mean by compassion? Compassion is the courage really to see the suffering or the pain or the discomfort or the distress or the unjustness that other people are experiencing, that you actually confront that you actually see it.

That you recognize it. And then with compassion, there's an action component, which is to do something to relieve it. So it's different than empathy where if you broke your leg, I'd say, Oh, I really feel really bad. You broke your leg. Cause that happened to me once. But with compassion it would be, Oh, I really feel bad for you for breaking your leg.

And it happened to me once. You're going to need somebody to drive you to the doctors cause you can't drive. So I'm available to you to do that. That action. That's a compassionate action. And the more men see compassion as a masculine trait, as opposed to being feminized or soft the better off we are because they are going to be willing to see the suffering of others, where  the pain of others, and to act in ways that relieve that pain and be a better world.

Adam Coelho: [00:35:36] Absolutely. And that's a great a great point to transition to the five CS, which are a big part of the structure of the book. Compassion is one of them. Can you just walk us through briefly what each of the five CS are in the book?

Ed Adams: [00:35:52] Go ahead. Sure. 

Ed Frauenheim: [00:35:55] Thanks, Adam. We have these five CS. They are what we see as the practices and the path to a liberating masculinity.

The first one is curiosity. And that is in a nutshell being willing to ask questions about life in ways that we often are told not to  we all start off with a curiosity is kids. Why is the sky blue? Why our airplane is flying? But by the time we're young men, we're often told, don't look stupid.

Don't, get a show up as the smartest guy in the room. So curiosity about anything in life, but also in particular about. Whether there's more to life as a man.  This curiosity is a key courage is a second one. And ed started speaking about that. It's really having the, that sort of heartfelt bravery to not only save the damsel in distress and the burning building as we're taught to as guys, but go inward to our psyches in to our own feelings of that.

Maybe. Of being on on worthy or perhaps really feeling the suffering of others that takes courage to do that. Compassion is the next one. just spoke about it, this idea of feeling with others and then taking action to alleviate their suffering. And it also includes self compassion acknowledging our own.

Troubles and our own hurts and working to alleviate them, not just try to dismiss them  as nothing, so that's a piece of  compassion . The connection idea is that we're seeing and acknowledging the bonds with others. We talked about that idea of being interdependent.

And then the idea is that we don't, we. We have to act to strengthen those bonds. Strengthen our relationships with our family members, build our friendships. So many men are isolated, do not create those kinds of strong ties with other men as they get older. I tell the story of my father who's actually is right now suffering from a lack of close friendships in the wake of my mother dying.

 We're still working with him to try to get them to start to reach out to old friends and rekindle those friendships. And then the last one is commitment. And that's a dedication to sticking with this process is I'd put it a to advancing toward that liberating masculinity, where you're going to have a fuller life and feel freer as a man in your actually freeing others at the same time.

So can you make it through those moments where it's hard when it's hard to maybe want to be emotionally vulnerable and know that you might get mocked for it?  But to stick with it anyways, because you're on the right path. So that's the commitment piece. 

Would you want to elaborate on those at all, Ed?

Ed Adams: [00:38:15]  There's a question that is a good question for men to ask themselves. And that question is who needs to show up right now? Like we could ask if there's a problem being discussed in a family with those son or daughter, like what does that person need? Who does that person need?

 Does he, or she need my sensitive self? My understanding self? Does my wife need a man who is being tender right now? Who needs to show up in the larger society? I look at all the conflict in the culture today, does a turtle need to show up?

Do I need to go in my shell or do I need to be curious about it and do I need to have the courage to maybe act in a certain way or take a position or write up editorial or something? And what would be in the best interest of others? What would relieve suffering? What would take away the pain and I have the power to do.

And connection and commitment are vital in order  to again, get to that me and we perspective all five of these are mindfulness of who's showing up and what do other people need from me? Not what do I need from them only? Or what do I feel like doing, but what do you need and how might I meet your need?

That's a connection. And that frankly is also a commitment that takes curiosity, courage, and compassion. They're all interwoven.

Adam Coelho: [00:39:55] Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. And this idea of compassion is something that I've been thinking about a lot more recently, both in my mindfulness practice. And I teach a course at Google called search inside yourself. It's an emotional intelligence mindfulness course. And. Empathy and compassion are a big part of the training and I'm finding myself thinking more and more about compassion and how it's really needed in our world today.   Can you talk a little bit about how this liberating masculinity, showing up in a way where compassion is front of mind,  how that can impact the society.

Ed Adams: [00:40:36] It's a big question.  It is a big question, but if we, if one of us had the power to wave a magic wand and once the wand was waived compassion in the world, Increased by 20%.  We wouldn't recognize the world as it is. It's that powerful. Because it involves everything else in order to be compassionate, you have to be connected in order to be compassionate other people have to matter. In order to be self-compassionate your needs and your interests need to matter. And you and it doing  life better. By being more compassionate, frankly, on the other end, you're also more accessible to the joys of life, to the dance of life, to the celebration of life and to our achievements and our accomplishments and the accomplishments of others.

 Enables or activates and accessibility. At the full range of human emotion and experience. So when people in the world are  more compassionate, it means they're more connected and involved. And they're more concerned about the welfare of others. It matters whether we put children in jails at the border, or it matters if we have an effective.

Vaccine for relieving the pain internationally of COVID. It matters. And it's not somebody else's problem. It matters to each of us and the compassion. We may not be able to S to have the power to be the problem solver, but the intent to solve the problem is also very important. I want people not to suffer.

Is as an important first step to doing something, to relieve that suffering. So intention is very important. 

Ed Frauenheim: [00:42:33] Just to build on what ed is saying. I think that idea of wanting to feel for others and relieve suffering of others. It's a key way we're going to get to a more harmonious society.

If we think about how divided we are within our country right now, and then another with respect to other countries, if we really take this idea seriously, totally of caring about other people, it's a, it's such an important foundation to doing that work. And I would also say in the context of our workplaces Adam that the idea of compassion of caring about others obtaining our own ego so that we look out for others  is wonderfully a success skill.

 We stole that term from Ed's wife, merrily that's the soft skills are the success skills today. But when you really care about how your other team members are doing it, doesn't actually take away from your own performance. It enhances it because your team members then have this sort of, the fuel of love, if you will.

And  the positive foundation for you to thrive for your whole team to thrive when you're all looking out for each other and caring about how each other is doing. The data is  clear, not only from your L's data at Google, but other and great place to work data and elsewhere that when we can really build caring communities and at work, we are building successful work.

Ed Adams: [00:43:46] We tell a story in the book. I think it's in the book. One of the men in military men sudden noun that he had testicular cancer and he needed surgery within three days. Word went out to the membership of men, mentoring men, and 20 men showed up the night before he was hospitalized to process with him, his fear and our concern, and that connection that direct involvement, which was frankly, a compassionate act by the 20 men involved made Jerry feel less isolated, more connected to others, less afraid.  Then through his surgery and his recovery, he was continuously contacted and cared for. To this day, when he tells that story, tears rolled down his cheek because the benefits of the compassion that he received from others superseded the fear of the cancer.

That's what he remembers. 

Adam Coelho: [00:44:47] That's extremely powerful. In my own experience, just showing up in that compassionate way, even just the intention or the aspiration to see the suffering relieved, is incredibly powerful. Even for the person who's  wishing well on others.

The loving kindness practice of wishing well to others, that we do in Buddhist practices.   I feel better when I do that. I feel more resourced to be able to try to help.  Often we think, and maybe this is related to how we're taught to be men that everything needs to be some big gesture.

Some be like,  if I can't save them, then I'm not going to do anything. But even just wishing for suffering to be relieved and doing the little things that you can do in whatever capacity you have to do them can make a huge difference. And so I think these pieces of connection, seeing that we're all connected, feeling connected to everyone else and then looking for ways to bring compassion practices and actions into your life is really powerful.  I think the world is calling out for that right now, because  there's clearly ample suffering in the world and it's causing people to do very dangerous and damaging things.

Something I've been thinking about is this idea of American individualism, I feel like we're a very individualistic society and culture. And I wonder how we move more towards recognizing how connected we are. If a pandemic can't do it, what can we do to help people realize how connected we really are and how can we move past this divisiveness and realize like our fates are aligned in so many ways.

Ed Frauenheim: [00:46:42] I think you put your finger on something really important, Adam.  I think that storytelling is a big part of that and telling stories of men who are seeing those connections, seeing the interdependence and thriving as a result and acknowledging that we are not the purely self-made islands that we'd like to think we are.

And I think the pandemic is actually a hopeful moment as I see it, in terms of how we have come together with mutual aid. Yes, there's been those who oppose wearing masks and call that individual Liberty. But the majority of Americans and even, plenty of men, I'm not sure exactly what the latest statistics are, have, come to see that they want to protect other men and other people by wearing a mask.

So there has been a heightened sense of community, collective responsibility. And when we tell the stories of men, and people generally, but especially men, that are thriving in this way. It includes even in the sports world. If we think about our current sports heroes, like a Steph Curry or a Tom Brady,  they are seeing themselves as humble  teammates, more so than individual superstars,  like the Michael Jordan, maybe that was just the scowler and, happy to be the superstar. These guys are about joy and about community and they're taking their teams to the championships. So I think some of those stories of the power of interconnectedness can help  move the needle in the direction.

Ed Adams: [00:48:03] We change when something touches our lives. And COVID is certainly touching our lives profoundly, but for example people used to literally crazy and then there was this campaign against it and it worked. But if I didn't care about littering and then all of a sudden I noticed that people were throwing litter all over my front lawn, it would be touching my life and it would activate a sense of, I gotta do something about this. This is part of the purpose of the book is to allow men and women to see that things in the world are touching our lives.

And that we do have a responsibility to be reactive to it in a positive way. So that the notion that I am this rugged individual, can't withstand the idea of are we stand more united together and we can solve problems better by caring about each other and by participating with each other and the solutions. People can  just watch the news tonight and ask , is this touching my world, my personal world.  Frankly, I think it's impossible to say no.

And so own it and allow yourself to be curious about it and courageous enough to act in a compassionate and connected way to solve it with a commitment.

Adam Coelho: [00:49:27] Yeah. That makes a lot of sense. 

One of the concepts in the book that really stood out to me is this idea of a council of advisors.

In confined masculinity we have the warrior, the provider, the protector, but  moving into a more liberating masculinity, you can expand the table, so to speak of advisors that you can draw on for wisdom and advice, depending on what's happening in your life. Can you talk a little bit about that concept?

Ed Adams: [00:49:58]  It's born of Carl Jung who was a psychologist that talked about archetypes and within every man  and woman there are archetypes operating and  by archetype, I mean something that is true at all time and in all cultures. So father is an archetype. Mother is an archetype. But when I speak with men, we talk about the King as an archetype. That's our internal visionary self. The King is in charge of the kingdom. What is the kingdom?

The kingdom is our soul, our spirit. So the King has to look out for that.  In our culture, in our political system, the president is our King. The archetype repeats itself, no matter where you are in a work world, the CEO may be the King or if it's a woman, that's the queen, but they have that positioning.

And then we are the warrior where the lover, where the magician. We are  the playmate, the adventurer the wise one, the spiritual advisor. We are the little boy. And , if we have an imaginary table in our head and they're sitting around and you talk to yourself that way what does the little boy need?

What does the adventurer need? What is the vision of the King? And what does the warrior need to do to fulfill that desire that the King has for the protection of our soul or spirit? Then you're accessing dimensions within yourself. You're accessing your own dimensionality so that you are having the resource of a variety of different perspectives to answer a problem or to prob to respond to others.

So that it's not solely centered on being a rigid protector or provider or really a negative warrior. Once we begin to understand how dimensional we are then it motivates us to give expression to those dimensions. And when we don't give expression to those dimensions, those archetypes don't go away. They can hurt us. For example, there's a man , he got an award for sales and he came to session and he said, I got an award today for leading the company in sales. And he smiled and put his head down and said, I'm getting better and better at doing something I hate. He was very unhappy in that job, but he was good at it. 

So what was he not paying attention to? What dimensions of himself were not being paid attention to? He actually wanted to be a nurse, so that means he wanted to be a healer. And that was a dimension of himself that was blocked and being in sales he didn't feel that part of him was had any form of expression.

And so  made him depressed. Made him unhappy.

It's bit him on the tush and got his attention. 

Ed Frauenheim: [00:52:58] I loved hearing that. I think the takeaways we make worse decisions, our lives suffer, if we are not having that bigger counsel as you pointed out Adam and Ed walked us through.

Adam Coelho: [00:53:09] Sounds good.  

Let's shift gears now to the mindful fire final four. And so I'll have each of you give your thoughts on each question.

The first question is,  what advice would you give to a man early on their path moving from confined masculinity to  liberating masculinity?  

Ed Frauenheim: [00:53:28] I will say, give yourself a break.  We, we can say more about this and but we were so hard on ourselves as men, especially when we're trying to break out of those confined rules that act to really make us feel ashamed if we're not meeting the expectations of society.

So be kind to yourself as you make this journey. 

Ed Adams: [00:53:47] And I would say one way of being kind to yourself is by having a range of experiences. So that you experienced life in many of its fascinating and dimensional ways early in your career, so that you have experience to call upon later on or now that and emboldens one's wisdom through experience.

And so that's a way of being actually kind to yourself is by having experiences that enrich your life. And that doesn't always mean happy experiences, but just to the idea  of being in life rather than observing life. 

 Adam Coelho: [00:54:27] Very well said.  The second question is what piece of advice would you give to people early on  the path to financial independence?

 Ed Adams: [00:54:35] Let me start with that. And my first book on becoming a happier man, I simply state that money is important, but remember, it's not who you are. And so making that distinction I think is  very important. So if you have little money, it doesn't mean you're a bad man or you're inadequate.

If you have a lot of money, it doesn't mean that you're great and you're the wonderful thing walking on two legs. They're different. It's one has money and the other doesn't. But that doesn't have direct relevance to the kind of man you are. 

Ed Frauenheim: [00:55:12] I would add that this idea of taking a close look at your masculinity and moving from a confined masculinity, to the extent, to which you may adopt those behaviors and beliefs toward liberating one can really help you with your financial independence because the old way of being a man risks, leaving us isolated, cold, and rigid in a world, that's now calling for flexibility, warmth, and connection.

That's how you're going to succeed. Whether within a company or you're doing your own thing. Liberating masculinity,  one way it can make you powerful is through financial success. 

Adam Coelho: [00:55:45] Some great points there . Thank you for sharing that.  The third question is what advice would you give to someone who is getting started with mindfulness and meditation?

Ed Adams: [00:55:54] It's like getting to Carnegie hall, practice.  Lot of men will tell me that they can't sit still without their mind really getting. Overactive and and I'll say something to them. Do you walk your dog? Do you fly fish? Can you sit and look at a candle for five minutes?

There are many ways to calm the mind and you'd be hard pressed to find research that said, here are the negative benefits of meditation and mindfulness. Because the benefits are enormous.  And I would advise them to integrate that into their life in a variety of different ways, to see that meditation, isn't always sitting still.

It's it could be gardening. It could be through some kind of quietness, sitting with your wife late at night that you, where am I? Am I present? Am I here? Am I actually feeling her touch or am I actually sensing my child's pain? These are all different ways that we are applying our mindfulness that is enhanced by meditation.

Ed Frauenheim: [00:57:01] I'll add onto that , some of the research on habit building is to start small, tack it onto something you already do. And don't beat yourself up if you falter. So  maybe you do two minutes of meditation every day after you brush your teeth. And if you falter for a day, Just get back on the horse the next day.

And I've got a mindfulness practice that is now up to five minutes a day. I know it could be more, but  it helps for me to have that ritual built in to get that going. 

Adam Coelho: [00:57:30] Absolutely. Great advice. That kindness that you spoke about  on question number one of how to get started with the path to liberating masculinity is extremely important in mindfulness as well. It's all about seeing what's happening, seeing your present moment experience with kindness, curiosity. It's not about how much meditation you do. It's more about the consistency of doing it. And if you fall off the wagon, you can just get back on and start again.

So I really appreciate that advice from both of you. 

The final question is how can people connect with you and your work and learn more about this concept of re-inventing masculinity?

Ed Adams: [00:58:12] Well, We have a website reinventingmasculinity.com. People can purchase the book is the book. But can also read different articles see some videos or recorded broadcasts both together and independently. Going to reinventingmasculinity.com would have direct access to the two of us.

Ed Frauenheim: [00:58:36] Just one thing to add on our website. There's a great song that was inspired by the book and by Ed's group, M three, Adam called "That kind of man" written by number one songwriter Steve Seskin. So I'd encouraged  folks to check that out. One of the things that I'm doing. In terms of the workplace and masculinity, I'm leading some workshops 2 hour workshops on what are called men at work straight talk, new practices for success and inclusion, and folks can Google that it's, eventbrite and would love to have folks join me to explore how to really reinvent your masculinity at work for success and inclusion.

Adam Coelho: [00:59:11] Very good. I'll include links to all of that in the show notes, which people can find mindfulfire.org. Thank you both for being here. This has been a wonderful conversation. I learned a lot and I appreciate you sharing all of this with the audience. 

Ed Adams: [00:59:24] It's been our pleasure to do. 

Thank you, Adam. 

Adam Coelho: [00:59:28] Thanks so much for joining me today on the mindful fire podcast. I hope you enjoyed my conversation with Ed Adams and Ed Frauenheim about re-inventing masculinity. 

As a reminder, you can get all of the show notes mindfulfire.org/20.

 If you got value from today's episode, I invite you to please hit subscribe. This lets the platforms know you're getting value from the episodes and you'd like to be here when we produce additional content. And as a reminder, each week on Tuesday, I release either a guided meditation or an inspiring interview like this. Subscribing is the best way to make sure those show up in your podcast player. 

And I'd recommend you check out the book, reinventing masculinity.  You can buy the book by going to mindful fire.org/men.  That will take you over to Amazon to purchase the book.

 

 




Ed Frauenheim

Writer, Speaker and Consultant

Ed Frauenheim is a writer, speaker and consultant who has focused on workplace, technology and culture matters for more than 25 years. His stories have been featured in Fortune, Wired and USA Today. Ed was senior director of content at Great Place to Work, the global consultancy that produces the annual Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For list. He has co-authored four books. The latest is Reinventing Masculinity: The Liberating Power of Compassion and Connection. The book tells the story of how we are evolving from a cramped, unhealthy, outdated masculinity to one that frees us all to build a better, more inclusive future at home, at play, at work and in the world.

Ed Adams

Psychologist and Founder of Men Mentoring Men (M3)

Dr. Ed Adams is a licensed psychologist and founder of Men Mentoring Men (M3), a not-for-profit organization helping men to live happier lives. Ed is past president of the American Psychological Association’s Division 51, which is focused on the treatment of men and boys. He also has earned the Division’s Practitioner of the Year Award. Ed has authored two books. The most recent one is Reinventing Masculinity: the Liberating Power of Compassion and Connection. Co-authored with Ed Frauenheim, the book provides men and women with a practical and updated vision of masculinity designed to cope with the complexities of the 21st century. Ed also is an accomplished painter and sculptor, and his paintings are featured in both his books.