The perfect storm was about to unravel, and I was as clueless as a young boy who is about to pee on an electric fence for the first time. Life hit hard, and I could not believe how well I responded. I was starting a large job I had been orchestrating for a few weeks in Philadelphia. I flew two of my co-workers and myself from Kansas City Missouri with our tools to knock out the job and make some money for our employer and ourselves. I arrived on the job site, and everything started to deteriorate like a sand castle getting hit by the tide coming in on a beach. When I entered the building and began to get settled in, the realization that a large majority of the information I had been given was incorrect. Mis-information is a significant deal when you plan a job from across the country and create a budget, schedule, and plan to meet deadlines. This situation had gone from building a paper airplane for a child to constructing the next model airplane to be shown in the front entry of an art gallery. The stark contrast of the scope of work was an instant challenge to my emotional well being as I often struggle when my expectations are messed with. It is a challenge to manage a job if you don't know what the scope of work is. Unexpectedly from myself, though, a beautifully swift response from my inner constitution was delivered, and I was able to mitigate my inner world and make a choice to go with the flow and know that I will conquer this even though I just wanted to shrivel up and go back home. The first punch had hit but didn't knock me down. Then the second blow came flying in, two out of three of the crew got the flu for a couple of nights. Then the third strike came in without compassion, I was not going to hit the desired deadline.
Feeling the pushes and stress of this job I was observing myself and the response that I had. I knew I had every right to be frustrated, angry, overwhelmed, and stressed but I chose not to give into any of those feelings. I was intrigued by my response and fascinated by it. Seeing my emotional intelligence kick in and help me navigate through this deadly maze was compelling. Saying that stress wasn't present would be a lie, but how I navigated it made me feel masculine. I felt this internal grit that empowered me to take this perfect storm head on, and this was encouraging.
I think it would be accurate to parallel the storm to this. It was like I was a basketball player who had been practicing and working hard to be able to dunk in the gym for a long, long time. Then when I was in the middle of a competitive game where there were defenders and the stresses of reality and I was able to maneuver and execute a slam dunk in the midst of the chaos, and it was fucking amazing.
That is how this scenario felt for me. I was being faced with stress that I would want to shut down and run away from, but this inner sense of self-belief and constitution was present which in turn helped me navigate through the current storm I was confronted with. The due diligence of working on my internal world was finally paying off.
What does this have to do with masculinity you might be asking yourself? EVERYTHING! Masculinity is honest work, and if due diligence is invested in one's self, it will pay off. Whether it is in a relationship or work the investment in being an emotionally intelligent well-rounded society contributing man will always pay off in the long run.
In this struggle, I felt manly. Not because I had everything under control, or because I was wearing boots and a dirty work shirt. No, I felt masculine because I was overcoming an internal struggle and growing in self-confidence. The manliness I am talking about feeling is the personal self-sufficiency to go to fight the good fight in the emotional and analytical world. So here is a couple of things I learned from this project so far that I wanted to share.
1: I need to put myself in situations where I need to rise to the occasion. If I want to develop more as a man and just a good society contributing citizen, I need to posture myself to be in scenarios where more is demanded of me than I currently believe I contain. Now this needs to be tactfully done, and I do need to know when to say no, but overall I think I need to seek out being challenged more.
2: Self-confidence and belief in one's self, are the backbone to survival. Now I am not talking about being unrealistic and thinking I can fly or be a professional boxer without ever practicing. I am speaking about honestly assessing myself, asking those closest to me what skills I possess and take the time to tell myself that I can accomplish this. This way I can move forward in life, and I am able to overcome.
3: Embracing the process is the foundation which I stand upon. If I had not struggled, fought, and showed up to work for the last five years of my job I would not have been able to handle this project in Philadelphia. If I had not embraced the thousands of service calls and small construction jobs I have managed, I would have been overwhelmed and not confident in this scenario. Heck, I would have never even pursued this job.
4: Taking a deep breath and just calmly facing life is always the best approach. This one is huge for me. I have found that when I work from a state of rest and peace I do my best, and most efficient work. When I get stressed out and frustrated my efficiency and quality drop drastically. This job exposed and re-iterated this for me.
What is an area of life that you can overcome a perfect storm? I hope you enjoyed this article and take the time to share with those you think would find it relevant. Here is a perfect quote to end this post.
"Just as we develop our physical muscles through overcoming opposition - such as lifting weights - we develop our character muscles by overcoming challenges and adversity." ~ Stephen Covey