Leading By Example
I was in the process of moving into my very first apartment. I was nervous and slightly apprehensive of moving out of the nest. My mother was very apprehensive of me moving out as well which of course makes sense because she does not want to see her little baby leave the home. However my step father was adamant about me leaving the home. He would say "It is time for you to be a man and be independent and live on your own." My step father was really the catalyst of me finally leaving the home. I knew deep down I wanted to do it but I was nervous and hesitant, however my step father was the kick in the ass that I needed to finally spread my wings and fly away. I was meeting with the superintendent that day with my girlfriend, mother and stepfather. As I was in the process of reviewing the lease the superintendent asked my mother and step father if they can be co signers of the lease. Before my mother could answer my step father gave the superintendent a hard "No". The superintendent was somewhat taken aback my my stepfathers assertiveness and from stating he was not going to be a co signer for the apartment. He said " We are absolutely not signing because we don't have to. My step son is mature and responsible enough to be able to pay for his own apartment on his own. He does not need us to be a safety net for him, he can handle the responsibility of financially supporting an apartment on his own. "My step father's response to the superintendent was inspiring to me. It was nerve wrecking having the responsibility to pay for an apartment on my own. However his confidence that he had in me inspired me to find the confidence in myself. The truth of the matter is I don't believe that if it was not for him I would have had the confidence to support myself in my first apartment. If he was not their and it was up to my mother she would have signed the lease to be my financial safety net for the rent. By doing this it would have sent the subtle indirect message to me that I am unable to support myself and be independent. Despite the push back the my step father got from my mother and the superintendent he did not cave. He held his ground and he was adamant of not co signing the lease. His calm certainty and assertiveness was inspiring. I looked at him think "Wow, I wish I could be as strong a verbally assertive, and calm as he was. The very next day I was having dinner with my girlfriend at the time she said "Your step father was a somewhat rude to the superintendent yesterday wasn't he?" I looked at her and "No, I don't think he was rude at all." He was stating what he felt and he felt that I had the ability of supporting myself in my own apartment. I really looked up to the fact that he was able to be so certain of of his stance of the apartment despite the amount of push back that he got from my mother or superintendent. That to me that was a leadership quality I wish I had. A few months later my girlfriend and I were having dinner at mother and step father's apartment. My mother and my girlfriend were finished dinner and they were assembling cloths in the bedroom. My step father and I were having our dinner and chit chatting in the dining room. Moments later my mother and girlfriend came around the corner and they both look at me and said. Logan, come with us now you need to try some clothes on that we bought for you." I felt annoyed and agitating because I was still in the middle of dinner. I looked at both of them and said in whiny tone of voice "But, I'm in the middle of dinner, can't I at least finish my meal?" "My girlfriend said "No! Get up and come try these clothes on now." I felt frustrated and disrespected by her demands and tone of voice. I was not sure of to handle the situation. Do I stand my ground or comply with their demands? I turned to my step father who was sitting next to me to see his reaction to this situation. He had very amused look on his face like he was enjoying watching this situation unfold. I was looking at him for some sort of solution to the situation. He looked at me in the eye and very calmly he said "You know what to do." It took a few seconds for me to realize what he wanted to do. He was not saying it verbally but I was able to read his sub communications. I knew now the course of action that I needed to take. I turned to my mother and girlfriend and they were able to see that my energy and vibe completely changed. I said to the both of them no longer in a frantic, uncertain, insecure tone, but in a calm, assertive and certain tone "I am going to finish my dinner when I am done then I will join you, I would appreciate it if the both of you would leave me be, respect my dinner time and go about your business. That's the way its going to be". My mother walked away calmly. My girlfriend scolded me for a few moments and just stared at her grinning confidently. She eventually walked away. I turned to my step father for his reaction to the situation. He looked at me with a proud look on his face and said "That is how its done, very good." He held up his glass of wine I held up my beer and we cheered each other. He lead me to the proper course of action and I delivered. My step father showed me on a consistent how to model positive strong behavior. He knew that he was in a leadership to me and his own son from his previous marriage and we both were watching him to see how to conduct ourselves in the world as men. Through difficult situation he was able to lead me by example.
Boys Need to be Boys
The parents were struggling of what they should do help their 7 year old son focus in school. He just started grade 1. By nature he was loud, upbeat, friendly, rambunxious, and full of boyish energy. These amazing qualities in him however were beginning to become a determent to his performance in the classroom. I have said before that the public school system was not designed for specific kinds of children. Especially high active extroverted boys. To tell a young boy to sit still in his seat and focus his attention on the teacher hours on end is near to impossible. However in the public school system that is our expectation of children. Forcing them to make their bodies and brains to do things that they are not designed for or skilled and mature enough to do. Be a good little child and sit still and listen to the teacher. The parents of this child were at a loss of what to do with their son to get him to focus and perform in the school setting. They did come to a conclusion which is the same standard decision people make in these situation. Just put him on medication. So they did. This young boy would take his medication in the morning before school. By the time he arrived at school and was seated at his desk he was focused. However the problem with this decision occurred when he went outside for recess and lunch. When he was finally in the proper setting to let his energy out in an an outdoor environment he did not have energy to let out because his innate natural boyish energy was sedated from the medication that he was on. He tried to play games with his friends and rough house and run around but he did not have the same fire that he used to have. It was difficult to watch. I approached him and asked him how he was feeling. The young boy informed me that he was not feeling well and he has stomach ache. I assumed from what he said that the dosage of his medication was slightly off balance and causing his stomach to hurt. When he returned to class he was capable of sitting and doing his work however it was done with a lack of enthusiasm and energy. He informed me that he likes the fact that he can focus on his school work and that he is happy to make his parents happy that he focus on his work, but he wished that he can have the same amount of energy to play and engage with his friends. He told me that his friend were unenthused about laying with him because he could not socialize in the same way with them that he used to be able to do. Because of his sedated energy level he could not keep up with his friends and it was effecting his friendship with his friends. From my perspective I knew that males are competitive by nature and it is that innate competitive bond that creates strong friendships among males. The medication that this young boy was on depleted all the competition out of him which effected his friendship dynamic with his friends and as a result he became socially isolated from the other children. The parents were informed that they need to find a healthy balance for him. He needs to be able to be focused on his academics and at the same time have the energy to play with friend and unleash that healthy boy energy. The parents complied and and did what they needed to do get a healthy balance of medication so the young boy can focus and play with his friend, and he was happier then he can be. We have a tendency to look down on wild competitive male energy, that it is a quality that we must beat out of young boys and teach them to sit still and focus and listen. A lot of the time a school daily structure was not made for boys with ADHD. There brain chemistry does not allow them to sit still and focus hours on end they need that break to run and move and be physical and competitive with each other, it is how males bond with each other. Take a father and a son for example, studies have shown that rough physical play within a father son relationship as monumental emotional health benefits in bonding the father and the son together. Males were made to be physical beings. I had a young boy that I worked with years ago and he had an extremely difficult time sitting in class and listen to the teacher and staying focused on the task at hand. It was almost painful to watch him struggle to try and sit still and force his brain and body to stay focused. When I would observe him in the classroom setting it was almost as if he was in physical and emotional pain trying to force himself to be the student that the teachers wanted him to be. During the summer I began taken boxing classes. I bought myself a pair of boxing gloves at the store. So I came up with the idea of doing boxing classes with him during recess and lunch. He would put on the gloves and I would hold the pads and I would teach him proper punching techniques proper boxing foot work and and would have him exhaust himself until he had trouble standing. Then he would return to the classroom and his ability to sit still and focus on his academics dramatically improved it was not perfect but he was actually able to be productive in the classroom. That showed me that putting a young boy on medication to sedate his innate boyish energy is not always the best solution. It can be seen as an easy fix to. It is putting a bandage on a gun shot wound. It is time better spent explaining to the young boy that his energy is not bad and nobody should every make him feel that he is bad child for not being able to control his energy. He needs to be told that the best way to use his energy is to channel it. Into something productive that will benefit his life and move his life forward. Such as being on a sports team or taking up Mix Martial Art. So he can learn the proper knowledge and physical and emotional discipline that he will not learn from being on medication. It is a slower process but a more productive and permanent solution to the problem. All boys since the time they are born all have one thing in common, an innate hunter warrior nature. It our social culture and modern world that systematically beats that warrior mentality out of boys. All young boys want to do at a young age is run around in the woods play sticks and rocks and play war with each other. However in our modern time we discourage this behavior from young boys because we think it is harmful for there development. Boys need to be allowed to be in touch with there natural selves and be the loud energetic warriors that nature has designed them to be, but also maintaining respect to themselves, others and their community. For boys to be happy and healthy they need to be encouraged to let their energy out in socially productive ways. In failing to do so they will feel shamed and guilty for being a boy which will result into troubled men. Boy must always be boys.
The Lost Art of Mentorship
I once heard my generation be called the Lost Boys Generation. Men struggling to find a proper mentor or guide to help point them in the right direction of where they should go in life. I was in the same boat. I had an idea of the kind of man that I wanted to become I just didn't know how to get there. Looking around the men in my world that were in the position to mentor me and put me on the right path I realized that they didn't not have the skill set or the desire to be an effective leader and mentor. So I needed to search. I needed to search the media, film, and hollywood for someone that really represented the man that wanted to grow into. I was 16 years old and I dreaded that time of day when I would hear the keys jingle in the key hole and the door would open and their he would be staring a whole right through me. He would say the same thing everyday. "Did you walk the dogs and do your homework?" In the most unwelcoming cold voice that he can muster. That would be the extent of what he would say to me everyday. He would remain silent and not speak to me or my mother at dinner. Even when the dogs snuggled up to him looking for affection he would get frustrated and tell them "Screw off!" When dinner was over he would remain silent and then isolate himself in his bedroom the rest of the night. That was basically the relationship dynamic that I had with my step father. I wish we had a better bond. However another part of me did not want that because I knew he was not a man that I can admire, look up to, or be mentored by. He was just not built to be a mentor. His children from his previous marriage said the same thing about him, he was not the father they needed him to be. As I looked around in other parts of my life there were not a lot of men that had mentor qualities. However during that period of my life it did not seem like a huge issue, it just seemed normal to me not having fatherly guidance. When I was young I was an extremely impressionable child. I knew what I looked up to in men and what I imagined myself to be and I was consciously and subconsciously emulating their behavior and vibe. As I have aged into my 30's I have come to gain a different perspective on mentorship. I always used to think that mentorship dynamic was natural human dynamic but I have come to realize that some people are not born to be mentors or mentored. In our hunter gather past it was the standard dynamic between parents and their children, especially fathers and son. When the young boy finally reach an age where the father felt that he had what it took to be taken on hunt with the other men, the father would mentor the young in hunting strategy and tactics. Nowadays men are too busy playing videogames or glued to their phone to either bother teaching their children anything. From the dynamic that I had with my step father I knew that he was not the man to guide me through life's challenges. In 2005 our relationship fell apart and he left the home. I struggling for a few years to find meaning and purpose for myself. In 2008 I joined the Army hoping to find some sense of purpose and guidance that I needed. For a while in the Army and did find it and the army was a great experience but the fire for it slowly burnt out. It was not quite what I was searching for. A couple years later at a pro wrestling event in 2012 which I was wrestling in. I was the first match on the show. I finished my very short five minute match. After the show wrestlers gave the kids a chance to meet them and photos taken with their favorite wrestlers. I kept my distance with this because I did not think anyone would be interested in my performance on the show. I was a newbie still learning the ropes of pro wrestling. I was at the coffee bar buying a coffee. While I was paying the cashier and felt a tug on pants from behind me. I turned around looked down and saw a small boy no older then 5 looking up at me. His eyes were wide and he had a huge smile on his face. I looked up and saw his father. His father looked at me and said. "My son loved you tonight you were his favorite wrestler". I was stunned and could not really believe what I was hearing. Me? I thought. "But I was terrible?" I said to the father laughing while I said it. The father laughed to "Yes, you were terrible but something you did made a connection with my son." The young boy asked if he can have my autograph. I did not think I was worthy enough to be giving children autographs at a wrestling show but I did it anyway because I saw the happiness that it brought this boy. Before he left the young boy gave me a hug and said "Thank you, you were my favorite wrestler tonight". The boy left with his father. I was emotionally hung up on that moment for about a week. It amazed me how you can have an impact on someone life and not even realize your doing it. Even if it was a very brief moment that interaction meant the world to me. It made me realize that being a positive role model and or being viewed as a male mentor is really important to me and from that moment on I new this was something I need to build upon prioritize and make my life's works as being a role model/mentor. People in the world that value money the most are the ones that have grown up in poverty because they never had money and they know its worth. I know the value and the importance of being a male role model and mentor because I never had it. From what I have seen and experienced it has become a lost art form. Most people these days are all consumed with themselves and focused and what they are generating or not generating into their own lives. True mentorship comes from a genuine desire to improve the lives of a younger generation. Not for ego or acknowledgement but from contributing to make the world a better place then they found it.
Making a Connection with Troubled Children
I was somewhat nervous and apprehensive about my first day of my internship. I was not informed of what child I was going to be working with. I was not aware of the people that I was going to be working with. All I knew was my supervisor. I had an interview with him the week prior and was told over the weekend that I secured myself a position at the Elementary School that I was hoping for. The morning finally came. I woke up early, had breakfast, showered, and headed out before I needed to. I wanted to be damn sure that I got there at lease 15 minutes before I had to. I wanted to impress my colleagues and supervisor right from the start and make a very profession first impression on them. When I arrived at the school I greeted my supervisor and he introduced me to the teacher that I was going to be working with. The teacher was kind and friendly but also apprehensive about me. Which made sense as I was working in her class with her students and she has not yet seen what I can do . The 9am bell rang and all the students started to fall into the school. I was waiting outside the classroom that I was going to be working in and then I saw my supervisor walking with a young 8 year old boy. He was short for his age, slightly pudgy, blue eyes and blond air. My supervisor introduced me to him. "Mr. Logan I would like you to meet DJ" my supervisor said. I bent down on one knee so I can look at him on an equal eye level for his comfort. I said with a friendly tone " Hi DJ, its great to meet you". He looked at me with an suspicious look on his face. He did't respond and walked right passed me and walked into class, threw his bag on the floor, sat down and put his head on his desk. My supervisor turned to me and said "Give him time he will open up at some point, he is a hard to warm up to new people kind of a child. My supervisor explained to me that many adults in the school tried making a connection with and attempting to improve his behavior but nothing has worked so far. I was told that he lost his mother and brother a year earlier and it was only his Dad now struggling to raise him. Since that incident a year ago he has emotionally shut down from people. The staff in the school have somewhat given up on him because they have other children that they must attend to and they can cannot give all their energy time and attention to this one child. I was unsure of how to approach the situation based on all the information my supervisor provided me. So I did the first thing I knew how to do, and that is make an emotional connection. I approached young DJ and just began talking to him. I began asking him questions which he did not respond to. I made it clear to him that he did not have to talk to me if he did want to. He did not pull away he just sat that there not making any eye contact with me as I spoke. This went on for a couple of weeks. It was very difficult to see if there was any kind of connection that has been built with him. There was not any words being spoken from him. About 3 weeks into my internship I was having a discussion with my supervisor. We were discussing DJ's progress and what we can do better to establish a repore with him. As we were speaking to each other DJ walked down the hall to the gymnasium. As he passed myself and my supervisor he extended his arm and gave me a friendly and affection pat on my shoulder and said "Hi, Logan". My supervisor looked at me astonished. He said " Oh my God you connected with him". "I did?" I replied "Yes you sure did" said my supervisor. He explained to me that that small little gesture of patting me on the shoulder and saying hi to me may not seem so significant from other children but from DJ that small gesture mean a lot. It signified that I succeeding at establishing a connection with him. All the talking to him and spending time with him that I did in the past 3 weeks paid off. From our perspective Dj appeared to be disconnected, standoffish, and emotionally detached from me, however we were unaware of what was actually happening inside his head and how we were making him feel even though he was not showing it. Days later DJ was having a difficult time getting his work done in class. He had his head down ion his desk and looked like he did not sleep well the night before. The teachers went over to him and took a knee beside his desk and ask him what was wrong. DJ did not reply. The teacher ask him open ended question in an attempt to open him up but to no avail. The teacher then ask DJ "Is there anyone you would like to speak with DJ?" DJ replied in a soft voice. " Yes, I would like to speak with Mr. Logan.". Emotional connection was achieved. To be continued.
Boyhood to Manhood
I new it was our last Christmas with him. With that in mind I had an overwhelming desire to do something memorable for him. I went shopping and bought him a Montreal Canadians Jersey, because I knew how much he loved hockey. I bought him a card as well. When I arrived home I sat in my office and began to write. I felt my mind become emotionally guarded when I began writing. I was doubting if I should write the things I wanted to say. I was unsure of myself and perhaps a may be going a little over board with the emotional thoughts on this paper. Eventually I said SCREW IT! I freed my mind and just let my thoughts and emotions just go and wrote how I really felt. Christmas Eve finally came. I wrapped my presents put them in my backpack and headed over to Mom and Dads for dinner. A week before my mother told me NOT to give Dad a Christmas present this year. He knew it was going to be his last and all he wanted was for us to all be together, he did not want material objects. I thought about what my mother said but in the end I decided not to listen. I knew this was going to be his Christmas so I was going all out in showing him how much he means to me and the value that he added to my life. When I arrived at the house on Christmas Eve I greeted Mom and found Dad in his recliner like he always was. He looked tired worn down eyes were dazed from exhaustion, his back was hurting and God knows what the cancer inside his body was doing doing to him. However no matter how he looked or he felt he still maintained a beaming spirit. That is what impressed and inspired me the most. The fact that cancer was tormenting his insides but he never complained or got angry or frustrated about it. When we entered the house he put all is positive energy onto us. After we had our turkey dinner it was time to open our presents. I was nervous about giving my Dad his gift. I was not sure of how he was going to got respond. The response that I got was way beyond anything I could have imagined. He opened up his present he was thrilled. He loved The Montreal Canadians sweater. However now came for the emotional part. He opened the card and began to read it. As he began reading the Christmas Card he got two sentences and his voice became very shaky, his eyes started tear up and for the first time in my life he saw cry. I may have refer to him as my father but he was my step father that came into my life 12 year earlier. When I first met him I was apprehensive of attempting to build a connection with him. I was not a lucky boy when it came to strong reliable role models in my life. It took many years of consistency and devotion to building a connection with me. My step father never lost patience with me and allowed me to come to him at my own pace. When we arrived at the last 6 months of his life and really dawned on me of the positive influence that he had on my life. I finally came to the realization that he was able to be the strong reliable father figure that I never had. From what I understood from his tears when he was reading my card was he was waiting for my stamp of approval for a very long time. He yearning for me to finally accept him as the father that I never had. I realized in that moment that he earned from me. He established a fatherly son bond with me that one else was ever able to do. After he was done reading the card we both stood up and hugged each other and told each other "I love you". That was very first time in 12 years we have said that to each other. From there we enjoyed our Christmas dinner. After dinner my mother pulled me aside in the kitchen and as my father was taking a nap in the living room. She told me that she had many conversation over the years with him that he was waiting for the moment of acceptance from me for a long time. Before I left that evening my father told both myself and my mother that it may be his last Christmas but it was also his favorite Christmas and I was an enormous contribution to that happiness. Every single day I pattern myself after his example. He was my constant and now its my turn to be the constant for someone who needs it just as much as I did.
Making Emotional Connections
She was not speaking to anyone in the classroom and it has been weeks like this. Her head down in her books not wanting to speak with anyone. The teacher was very concerned about her well being and was at a loss of what do to draw her out of her shell. I have always hated that phrase "Getting someone out of their shell". You cannot force a person to come out of their shell just because you think that it was is best for them. It takes time and comfort for them to want to engage with their environment. I knew by looking at her that she will come out of her shell when she damn well was ready for it. However I can speed up the process by planting a little seed her head. I knew what I needed to do. I approached her very calmly and got down on one knee to her level. I noticed that she had family picture of her and her brother sister and parents so I started to ask her questions about herself and her family. As humans we love to speak about ourselves and we all have a tendency to naturally be drawn to someone who takes a genuine interest in who we are as people. Have you ever noticed when we see a colleague at work and the feelings that we get when we engage with them when we are enjoying the interaction. Our minds begin to associate that person with positive emotions. We look forward to going to work to run into that individual because of the feels we get from that interaction. I knew that I had to create the same feelings in this student to get her to establish a connection with me. So I asked her open ended questions. She spoke quietly and calmly. I made a point not to make the conversation to long so to not overwhelm her. At the end of our conversation I made a silly joke to make her laugh. That was the seed being planted. That`s when I ended that conversation and left her with a positive impression of me. The weeks following this interaction I made a point to ask her open ended question and make her laugh in every conversation we had and make her laugh at the end. I did this so that she can associate me with positive emotions. When she associates me with positive emotions she will naturally want to open up to me and want my attention. In this process I become someone of value to her. Someone that she wants validation from. In the weeks following was beginning to interact with her peers. I watched from afar and she started coming out of her shell at her own pace. One day during an exam, the entire class was silent focusing on their exam. I saw her putting her head on her desks getting frustrated. She put her head up turned around and made eye contact with me. Her eyes were full of tears and her face was red. I gave her a smile and thumbs up basically communicating in a non verbal fashion ``its ok you got this I believe in you``. She understood what I was saying. She smiled back at me wiped the tears off her face and gave me a thumbs up. She returned to her exam. From what I gathered from that interaction is that I made a connection with her. I took some time and consistency but the seed grew successfully. Human being are not complicated. We generally will seek out pleasure and avoid pain. That concept follows us in out interaction with others. We emotionally connect ourselves to individuals that make us feel good. We get kick a of dopamine in that persons presence. I`m sure we have all been their, being a child unsure how to navigate the world, and waiting for some adult in our lives to swoop in and give us some guidance and comfort, but all it take is one. One person to make us feel like family in a strange land filled with strangers. It also take just one very strong emotional connection with a person to cause us to open up and have a snowball effect and open ourselves to everyone else.
Male Role Models
As I walk through the hallway that is filled with Grade 2 students all lined up for their Phy. Ed class I hear a very familiar excited voice right behind me."Hello Mr. Logan!" I turn around and their she was. Her big brown eyes filled with light and excitement, and very timid, and approval seeking smile. I make sure that I am several meters away so that I can pull down my mask and reciprocate the smile and validate her attention seeking expression. It takes time, work and consistently to build a strong positive connection with a child but when you finally do establish that bond its life changing. A year before all this I met her for the first time in Grade 1. There she was in the back of the class very quiet, very shy, very timid. One day she gets off her chair and approaches me. She does not speak a word does not crack a smile. She hands me her pencil and her sharpener. I know what she is asking for but she is too shy to say the words. So I begin sharpening her pencil. I tell her a joke to put her mind at ease. She cracks a very small smile. This pattern occurred everyday for two weeks. As everyday passed that smile got bigger and her eyes got wider with excitement. She would return to her seat turn around at me and start giggling. I knew from these reactions that I was finally making a connection with her. In time she began to speak and having conversations with me. At this point she was beginning to associate me with positive emotions. She began to get more comfortable speaking in class and raising her hand when she had a question. She was slowly starting to project her voice across the class. A huge progression from when I had to put my ear an inch from her face to hear her voice. She starting making friends joining in on games during recess and lunch. On the days she was too shy I would initiate a game with her and the other children. I would allow myself to slowly fade away into the background and this allowed facilitated her to establish a connection more with her peers then just with me. As the school year went on she improved. Now in Grade 2 she is blossoming. I always make a point to check in with her from time to time. Even if we do not see each other as much I always make sure to be her Constant. To be that Power Male Role Model when she needs it. When she throws up that Bat signal she knows The Batman is on the way.