As a young man, just starting out my life on my own, I thought I was invincible! All my life up until that point I was told that I could do anything, that there were no impossibilities for me. And I believed it! As soon as I finished college, I was ready to make my mark on the world. I believed that was what I was made to do and being successful and making something of myself was where I believed a man earned his value.
Yet, I soon realized that life wasn’t what I expected. Once I started my career and began my life on my own, I realized that there was so much I didn’t know. Even more, for which, I wasn’t prepared. There was no clear model for manhood, nothing to guide me. I felt like I had to start my life with no help or direction, having to figure everything out on my own. It seemed like so many of the challenges I faced were unique to me and my generation and I had to build a life without a blueprint. Most importantly, I learned that making a mark on the world is difficult and I saw within myself a selfishness and pride that prevented me from making the sacrifices needed to be a true leader.
In our world, when you step out on your own as a man, you are expected to just figure it all out; you must sink or swim. You are expected to be strong and show no signs of weakness. You must go after what you want in life and make no excuses for failure. No one is going to give you anything; nor should you expect them to. Men are expected to be tough, strong, and confident. Should you fall short, the world will show you no grace or mercy. This is especially true if you were born with fewer advantages or privileges than the man next to you. No one cares if you started behind in the great race of life. You must simply learn to run faster!
The troubling thing is that our ever-changing world makes it increasingly difficult for us to succeed. The gap between the haves and the have nots, the advantaged and the disadvantaged, continues to expand. The costs of everything from housing to education to healthcare continue to rise while incomes and wages remain stagnant. For so many of us, debt has become a way of life and there appears to be no way out. Instead of making the world better, we are stuck trying to figure out how to simply make our lives better.
When looking to the world around us, the problems we face seem insurmountable, the interest in maintaining things just as they are is entrenched, and the number of people who are either not engaged, or who and really don’t care, is higher than ever. Worse still, all of the systems and institutions that were supposed to work for us seem to have failed or are working against us.
If you are a man of color, the situation can feel even worse. In addition to these challenges, you are forced to wrestle with a world that can seem increasingly indifferent, or, even worse, hostile. Many have to deal with a legacy of economic disadvantages and the lack of intergenerational mentorship and guidance. Despite the undeniable progress we’ve made, men of color all too often have to bear the burden of negative stereotypes and unconscious biases that are still deeply rooted in our culture.
The result has been a society void of men who are equipped to lead. As men, if we are honest, we can be individualistic and self-centered sometimes, focusing only on our needs and desires at the expense of those that need us the most. We can often see our money and resources as the means to gain greater privileges and pleasures us and, as a result, there is often nothing left over to invest in making our world better for future generations. Those who try to lead are ill-equipped and fail because they try to do it all on their own instead of building community with others that are like-minded.
Through all of this, I have come to believe that the problems we face require a new way to think about manhood as well as leadership. We can’t afford to waste any more time in our lives as men trying to figure it out on our own. Nor can we put all our confidence in governments, systems, institutions, and outdated methods that have consistently failed us. No, the problems of our times require a community of men who think differently and lead differently. We need men who are equipped to be selfless leaders.
When we founded King Culture a few years ago, that was our mission; to equip men to be selfless leaders. A selfless leader is a man who leads by giving of himself for the benefit of others. It is a man who feels a sense of responsibility for the world around him. It is a man who understands that his strength and resources are not solely for gaining privilege or pleasure, but for benefiting those who depend on him. Instead of complaining and making excuses, he gets busy, leveraging his influence as best he can for those who need him. He does for someone else what he wishes someone would have done for him. Though he can’t fix every problem in the world, he focuses his life on making the world he influences better.
If you and I are to become such men, we must begin to think and act like selfless leaders. Here are ways to begin:
- Recognize that your value as a man is not something you have to earn, it is merely something you must learn to embrace. Whether you succeed or fail in life, your value is inherent and there is nothing that can ever change that.
- Think bigger than providing for yourself, or even just for your family, alone. Consider the needs of the broader community you have influence over and think about how you can leverage your strength and resources to meet these needs.
- Seek wealth, power, and influence not just so you can enjoy greater privileges and pleasures, but so you can leverage them to take responsibility for making the world better for others.
- Live beneath your means in order to have resources to invest in the future.
- Build community with like-minded men and combine your resources together with theirs in order to maximize the impact you can make.
It is our goal to challenge and equip a community of men to grow tall enough to wear the crown of selfless leadership by providing them with the wisdom and guidance to succeed.
If you are a man ready to take on the challenge of becoming a selfless leader, this blog series is for you.
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