This question is something that I had struggled with when I started this project. The “Why” or “Purpose” of what I am pouring into the Theory of Men, an online community I started building. I have been asked this question on more than one occasion when I have talked to my close circle to create this community. Today was the day that this became a little more clear to me.
Most people say that the “Why or Purpose” drives the passion behind the product. For me, this project started when I met my wife ten years ago. I was raised by parents who had provided the best they could. We moved quite often, had good times and bad times throughout the process. My father was out “providing” for the family throughout this time. In most memory, he was a gigantic man in my eyes and always thought that there was no greater honor than through suffering for the family. This idea meant that he did not always have nice jobs. He took whatever he could get when he could get it. We were consistently below the poverty lines during those times, no matter what he tried to do. Even though I learned some tough lessons growing up, I learned more by observing than being taught.
With self-reflection, I realized that I learned more by example rather than being told, and bad habits were formed along the way. I made a choice the first opportunity I could to leave home. I left home three months after graduating high school and joined the military. Not knowing about the world, even the world inside me, I found out that I was very impressionable in mostly the wrong areas. I made good and bad choices throughout my time there. I found out that conversations with others were shallow. I was not as educated as I thought I was. I just dove into what made the most sense to me and that I did not have to work hard to improve, and that was work.
While serving and seeing the world, I realized that even though I was around other people, some very educated in many ways, it was always easier to disregard their opinions or advice. It was easier to bury my head in the sand and pretend like it did not pertain to me. Physically, Emotionally, and Financially it was easier to turn back to what I learned and knew rather than do the work required to change myself for the better.
Debt, failed marriages, bad choices, reckless behavior, and even the right choices that brought me today, I would not have changed them now. Everyone says this is looking back at their lives. Most of us say that we would be in a different place now than what we currently are. I would argue they are wrong. If we would have the ability to learn these lessons earlier, with the application, we would still end up where we are today, but even being better versions of ourselves.
So why put myself out here? Why discuss this with people who do not know me and make myself vulnerable? I had always thought about my life like a book, share one chapter (part of myself) with one person and another chapter with another. Knowing they would not meet, I was in no danger of anyone figuring out who I was. A lost adult male, drifting along and going with the flow, no purpose or direction. Sure, I have done many things, but there was still a void that I could not fill—being a different father and husband to my family.
So I started my journey to correction late in life. When I met my wife ten years ago, it was not the relationship we have today. Even with many talks about raising our children, we still may not see eye to eye, but our children are better for her ability to handle my illusions with raising our children. I realized with all of the tough lessons we have had over the years that my circles of influence have changed. I find myself surrounded by people who excel in different areas, and I strive to learn as much as I can from them. I offer what knowledge I have and the conversations I find myself having today, I can tell you I would not have had ten years ago. Things have changed for the better.
I still have issues, there is no magic cure, but this drove me to try and help others on their journey through life and continue improvement of my own. To pass on this knowledge, I have learned about my different relationships with my own immediate family than my external one. I wanted to give something to my children and hopefully others even long after I am gone. I want to teach them all of these things that I learned from growing. That way, they can live their lives to be the best people they can be, hopefully without the same mistakes. Thinking about it, I felt there were others out there that could help exchange knowledge with me in a community.
In discussion with a friend about this subject of passing things on to our children and the influences on the same subject currently, we both felt excellent points were there, but it was missing something. In older tribal days, there was a group of elders, where if something affected the group, then the elders could offer advice. Today we are more connected through technology but even further apart in our relationships that we are missing that advice. The self-help industry has many people offering advice about the topics I want to cover for my growth and passing along to my children. We all know this is not a one size fits all way to do these things. Sometimes we need to bounce things off of one another to ensure we are thinking straight. Sometimes the right advice helps everything fall into place.
There are times when talking with my circle, things have fallen into place. I realize that I want my children to find value in their circles of influence. I also admit that there are many others out there in my shoes, adrift, floating through life, and if I can help one person, then my mission is worth it. I know my journey will change my children, and I hope it will change you will as well.
This is my “why” for creating this. This is my “why” for being vulnerable and sharing in my journey. It is for them. This is my “why” for going through my struggles to be better than I was, to improve myself each day, it is for my children and my family to be the best version of myself.