As the morning began, I walked into the cafeteria where the Power up Mens Summit was being held. Unsure of where to sit, I grabbed the first empty table available. As I sat and scanned the room I noticed many tables with one gentleman per table and I thought, “Why do we wait until we see someone we know to engage and get comfortable? What holds us back? Why do we find it hard to relate to one another?”
Will the Real Man Get Up?
Dr. Bounce Back – Dudley Thurmond, gave a great depiction of this invisible mask everyone can see but us. He implied this is a mask men have been wearing for a lifetime. Thurmond asked us to examine ourselves and begin to peel off that mask of ego and pride, layer by layer to be able to examine our self-worth and truly begin to grow.
Thurmonds message, more like a request was loud and clear, “Mask Off” and it
resonated throughout the room.
After a panel Q&A and breakdown of Tupac’s lyrics to his 90’s hit song Keep Ya Head Up, the floor was open for discussion about the influence black men have over our communities. It became apparent of the importance of taking our mask off. We have a responsibility to our women and children to be strong, united husbands, fathers and community leaders!
Break Out or Break Through?
There was a young football player dedicated, great work ethic, disciplined and gave 100% every rep. Coach expected a lot from this young man and he delivered every time. In return, Coach promised success. Years had passed and somehow or another that promise fell to the wayside. So the question of the morning became, “As leaders, how do we fulfill our contractual obligations to one another?”
One way to allow ourselves to do that is to stay healthy. When we think of being healthy we naturally relate it to eating right, losing weight, and exercise. As black men, the mask we wear allows us to neglect the importance of our mental health. How? It’s in our everyday behavior, the things we think, what we watch listen to and talk about. We bottle up our problems and we are afraid to be vulnerable for we feel it makes us appear weak.
Get your Mind Right, was the title of Jonathan McMillan’s breakout session. Jonathan a local writer and author of: I Am Better than Average – 101 affirmations to help you build and live a better than average life.
He reminded us how the health of our mind affects the relationships within our lives with our wives and children while hindering the level of leadership we bring to our communities. Even affecting the relationship within ourselves which could lead to suicide by miscalculating your self-worth. Jonathan suggests one solid solution is to “talk with someone,” when someone ask what’s wrong, tell them! “Stop being afraid to feel good”, as Dr. Ryan Ross (ULFC) put it and also backed it by asking us to be mindful of our response when hearing of something someone is going through.
What do we do to change?
It seems that change revolves around self-care and self-reflection. If we step back from the woes of the world and take a little time to work on ourselves the world around us could slowly begin to change. Understanding that your ego is a condition of the mind will allow you to see things in a different light and peeling off the layers of your ego allows for a more honest self-evaluation. How we view ourselves is reflected on to the world we live in and influence the actions that propel us forward or hold us back. Know that it is OK to be vulnerable, open up! When you feel the pressure of life talk to someone. Preserve your mind for your families, for your friends, we are now standing at the doorsteps of change and your mindset does matter!