Conference for Men: Part II

Sunday was a lower key day over Saturday.  My main takeaways from Sunday was to be more present in my interactions with others.  This was started by a dancing lesson by Ben Westman.  That was one of the few physical activities on Sunday, as Sunday was more cerebral.  I can tell because I took way more notes on Sunday as compared to Saturday.  There was a talk by Noah which was about confidence and non-attachment to the outcome without judgment or criticism.  Limiting beliefs were discussed, as well as emotional baggage, and misinformation as being barriers to confidence.  The main takeaway was to embrace the good and bad feelings as they come instead of resisting what is.  The next speaker was Phil, a former member of the Canadian swim team, where he talked about work, with the phrase “Have white collar vision, but have a blue collar work ethic.  There were strategies to work harder, and I had to examine why I am not performing at my highest level?  Again, it had to do with self-respect and that I do not really care about my project.  I know that from now on, I would need to change my work that I respect, or otherwise I will be at the age of 75 with the feeling of a life wasted.  Then, there was a “manly” explanation that work is the expression of masculinity, and that there were only two options which are either mediocrity or hard work.  From this, I came up with a new framework for thinking about hard work.  Hard work invigorates me and makes me feel alive.  I can sleep well at night with a sense of meaningful accomplishment.  The hard work will fill me, and this will be hard for others not to take notice, and that hard work is a learning experience.  I just typed these and put them on a wall at my place where I can see them.  Too much hard work can result in burnout, so there is time for hard work (black) and rejuvenation (white).  The danger is what most people do, which is gray, where one is kind of working (dark gray) or uneasily relaxing (light gray).  I found myself guilty of this when working on my doctoral dissertation these past few months.  We got some practical advice to improve productivity, which I have yet to implement.  The first is to have a morning ritual of meditation, a cold shower, and eating something nutritious.  The second is to never sit at a computer without a clear plan, or there is the temptation to go on facebook, check e-mail, etc.  My guilty pleasure is with the Bitstrips App, but then again, I can be quite childish.  The third tool to greater productivity is one that I have heard before, and that is to always start with the most ugly task, the biggest task that is bothersome, before moving on to other things.  Commit at least 5 minutes to it, and it will see itself being finished.  The talk was finished with the following quote “If we are willing to do the hard things, life will be easy.  However, taking the easy way out makes life hard.”  The next speaker was Shogo Garcia who runs a virtual law firm, as he is a lawyer who is moving away from that field to coaching.  His talk was rather off the cuff and improvised, but the main takeaway was the following saying “You can measure potential loss, but you can never predict how big your successes were.”

The women returned on Sunday afternoon, where we “walked toward the gun” of their judgement.  We learned to learn from a woman’s intuition, instead of listening to the, but show up and be in their presence.  When with a woman it is best not to ask for details, but to give them choices, and then we went on the odyssey of a woman’s feedback.  The group was so large, that we all did not get feedback from the three groups of women standing in the front of the room.  All that Charmaine did was instructed me to unbutton my shirt a little bit, which is the same advice I get from grandma.  I guess that means that I can be closed up sometimes, and that I need to open up more.

The official part of the meeting ended with Owen Marcus and his partner talking about the importance of joining a men’s group in order to continue the work that went on over the weekend.  Mike also pitched us on his new coaching package, which I eagerly signed up for, not knowing how I would pay for it.  I resolved to start a men’s group back in Omaha, or to at least join one, which I did end up doing.  Some of the people who I wanted to form a men’s group in Omaha with have plans to leave Omaha soon to move to bigger cities, so I joined a mastermind group online, started by the initiative of Tommy Jia.

Then, we had an after party.  I felt pretty light on Sunday overall, and this translated to a light after party for me.  I felt more present with the interactions with the highly conscious women that were invited out to the bar.  I ran into Darlene Navarre, who I met in Las Vegas back in 2011.  She lives in Los Angeles now, but was visiting San Diego that weekend.  Overall, it was a great night, although not the best night, as I was quite tired from being up 24 hours straight on Saturday, but I made the most of it.  Some of the interactions were quite arousing that night, but ultimately nothing became of it in a physical sense, but that is fine.  I walked back to the hostel with Spencer, and we got lost, running into TJ on the way back.  We eventually found the hostel and eventually went to bed.  The next morning, I had breakfast and lunch with my roommates Nathan, Spencer, and Max, who joined us for the night.  I had interesting converstations with them while walking around the harbor in order to find a place to eat lunch.  We settled on seaside village.  Then, Nathan drove me to my hotel for the night, and we parted ways, which led to the next part of the trip, which will be covered in Part III: The Aftermath.  The aftermath may have been more important than the conference itself, as it has been a test on me on so many levels.

I am Judgmental and Childish: A Summary of the Conference For Men, Part I

On April 4, 2014, I signed up for Mike Hrostoski’s very first Conference for Men.  I had just defended my Ph.D. a couple of weeks earlier, and I thought that this conference would be a great way to get back into personal development, as I had been focusing on finishing school for the past year.  It felt like school had to be out of the way before I could really show up and further develop myself as a person.  I read the sales page, and something inside of me just knew that I had to be there.  So I bought my ticket and reserved my plane tickets, and then went back into the grind of my everyday life trying to finish the dissertation while looking for jobs.  Originally, I was planning on coming a couple of days early to explore San Diego and socialize, but some deadlines with the dissertation were coming up fast, and I needed more time to tie up some loose ends.  I ended up arriving at the conference 2 hours late due to a last minute Saturday morning flight change.  I almost didn’t even go to the conference, but I made it, albeit late.  I came in the middle of the keynote speech.  I had read “Way of the Superior Man” by David Deida on the flight to San Diego, and from what I could tell, the speech was similar to the book.   I sat there for a while trying to situate myself, and then we went on to some eye contact exercise.  I had a hard time maintaining eye contact without laughing.  I do not remember the Saturday morning exercises very well at all, as I felt very distracted at the time.  I met up with some old friends during the break, as well as meeting my group coordinator, Christopher Sunyata.  I told him that I felt distracted and very judgmental toward the whole situation.  At the time I felt really silly being there and questioning my very presence there.  Chris told me to breathe deeply whenever I felt a sense of judgment.  We then did some more exercises about being present and breaking through barriers.  I was still being quite distracted, so they had me go face to face with Dave Booda.  That still did not work, so then I was told to have some sort of pushing match with Max Nachamkin.  At first, he was winning and totally dominating, but then I got angry and started yelling at the top of my lungs.  I yelled so loud and ferociously that I was foaming at the mouth like a rabid dog, or like Snoopy in “What a Nightmare Charlie Brown!”  In fact, the whole first day of the conference felt like that to an extent.  At some point, there was a lunch buffet, although now what happened at that point felt fuzzy.  We then spent the first half of the afternoon talking about sexual topics, where we got in our group and authentically shared our experiences.  When it was my turn to share, I got many laughs.  After the sex part, we took a break and then did the “Death” exercise.  At that point, I had been running myself ragged the whole week with school and getting to the conference, that the whole exercise felt like a well-deserved rest.  We then simulated our own funerals, where we were buried alive.  It was a very uncomfortable feeling similar to sleep paralysis, but I was able to burst free, and that exercise left me with a sore throat.  We then all took a single file line in silence around the hotel parking lot, and I know that we blocked at least one truck trying to get in.  We had the first 20 minutes of dinner in silence.  It was nice being in silence, as it allowed some much needed clarity.  In the evening, we did the money exercises, where we ended up doing an exercise that left me with a sore throat as I asserted that something was mine, while my partner denied me. 

We then had the judgment forum, where we got to share our judgment, and how it reflected on ourselves.  My judgement was that this whole conference was too “Woo Woo” for me, and I couldn’t respect it.  It told me that I have a fundamental lack of respect for myself.  This was the biggest takeaway from the conference for me, as it revealed my blocks to success in life.

What followed was one of the most cathartic moments of the night, where we had to share our pain.  I stood with a lot of people.  What were strong triggers for me was when the Hrostoski brothers shared the pain of their mother’s death three years ago, which triggered the fact that my grandmother had a stroke a few months back.  It triggered me to share some pain about being bullied in high school.  What also struck a chord was that there were other men there who were Christian.  This struck a chord with me because for a while I was not a practicing Catholic around the time I started attending personal development conferences, but I had started regularly attending church in 2013.  I feel an inner conflict when it comes to this area of my life.  There were many things that people shared that struck a chord as well.  After this moment, the conference let out for the day.  I met up with my roommate, Kevin, and we walked back to the Hostel.  By the time that I checked in to the Hostel, I had been awake for over 24 hours, and I got about 4 hours of sleep the night before, and about the same the following night, which made for a more laid back second day of the conference.  More details are to follow in Part II.