Three reasons for Lance Armstrong to Check In! with the ManKind Project
by Boysen Hodgson
The ManKind Project USA cycling team recently participated in our second RAGBRAI (Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa). We brought over 40 men and women from across the country (and Canada) to Iowa for the ride. Lance Armstrong came out to Iowa for a couple days of the ride, so we put out an invitation for Lance to come Check In! with us at the ManKind Project. And though the ride may be over – the invitation stands. We’ve got training opportunities and men’s groups across the country ready for any man. Learn more … NewWarriorTraining.org
3. Because being the ‘best man you can be’ is easier with help.
The era of the lone cowboy is over. The planet can’t take it, our families can’t take it, our society can’t take it. Isolation is literally killing us. Though not all of us will lose millions of dollars in sponsorships, or titles, or political offices, or careers – a man in isolation WILL lose what he values. What we hear over and over is stories of men losing themselves, losing their families, losing their ability to face themselves in the mirror without shame and anger, losing the ability to be with those they love without hiding.
That loss, shame, anger, grief, and hiding has profound impacts on the world. From families in silent crisis, to mass killings, to epidemic levels of obesity and suicide. The deeply personal emotional realities of our lives have direct links to the interpersonal, institutional, political, and cultural decisions we participate in.
What I heard you say, Mr. Armstrong, in your interview on Oprah, is that one of the most powerful motivating factors for your coming back into integrity was the pain of lying to your children. Those we love as men are hurt by our absence. And many men — and women — are truly leading lives ‘of quiet desperation.’
The good news — and there is A LOT of good news — is that the culture is waking up to this reality, and men and women are taking action to do something about it. The ManKind Project is one such effort. We are committed to being there when men hear the call in their lives to WAKE UP and begin the difficult work of creating a new reality. When a man is ready to do whatever it takes to heal the parts of his soul that have been hidden away … we’re there as a community to challenge and support him in that journey.
Lance Armstrong, you’ve proven again and again that you are capable of doing whatever it takes. You pretty obviously have gotten a wake up call. What’s next?
2. Because there are more adventures waiting.
You have done some INCREDIBLE things. Beyond comprehension. I honor all that you’ve done.
And there are other kinds of adventures. You’ve been doing the exploration of human possibility as an athlete and cancer survivor, and you’ve done extremely well. If you’re like every other man I’ve ever met, my guess is that there are some dark hallways and paths into the woods of your psyche that you’ve avoided on the road you’ve been traveling. As the old maps said ‘beyond here, there be dragons.’
In the work we do with men at the ManKind Project, we offer an opportunity to take some of those dark paths and see what treasures lie within. Our Native American brothers call the work we do ‘exploring inner space,’ our hunting and tracking friends call it ‘inner tracking.’ There are many ways to describe what we do, and at the core it’s about taking a hero’s journey into your soul, and facing the ordeal that lurks there. It’s different for each man, and universal.
It’s about healing, discovering purpose, taking responsibility, embodying a new kind of power, embracing vulnerability as strength. (read a great blog post from ManKind Project man Chris Kyle on this topic here.)
It’s about becoming fully human. We work with men because we know what it feels like to be in the skin of a man in 2013. We work with men because we are recreating the culture from the inside.
It’s an adventure! Scary, challenging, ALIVE. We’d love to have you join us for the adventure.
1. Because it’s a relief to take off the mask, if only for a little while.
Being a public figure is a game of masks. From scene to scene – the play is going, and whether you’re winning the Tour de France, or getting in the car to go to work, most men learn to put on a ‘game face.’
Along the way men learn what is ok to express and what isn’t, what is ok to share, and what isn’t. This is certainly true for women as well. Men are taught to hide weakness, vulnerability, pain, sadness, joy, tenderness … and more. Women are taught to hide their fierceness, anger, power, ambition, intensity … and more. Thankfully, for some this isn’t as true today as it was in the past, but it’s still the norm. Though we live in a culture that loves the illusion of heroes, celebrities and fame, we see over and over what the masks do to real people. Cory Monteith dies alone in a hotel room.
It starts early. Recently I was at the ice-cream stand with my wife. There was a little boy, probably three years old, running around, bouncing, laughing, enjoying himself. After a couple minutes he took a misstep and went down onto the asphalt with a thud. It wasn’t a hard landing, but it shocked him. Before the surprise on his face had even begun to shift into the pain of the shock, his big sister swept him off the ground saying … ‘You’re a BIG MAN. BIG MAN. No crying. Be a BIG MAN.’ His mother and father watched from the bench and reinforced the message … ‘Ain’t nothin’, you’re a BIG MAN.’
The boy wasn’t hurt. But there was no acknowledgement of the fall. Not even a 15 second window to say … ‘Wow. You fell! Hit the ground pretty hard, eh buddy? Kinda scary! That probably hurt some, huh?’ And then to move on … having witnessed and acknowledged what happened. There is no reason to INDULGE the pain – but acknowledging it is healthy and demonstrates EMPATHY – one of the most important and life-enhancing taits a human being is born with — and tragically — trained out of.
We are taught to deny and repress our pain, and to punish those who express it. Even the pain of those we love most. I have met hundreds of men who punish themselves for not being able to shut off the pain of being alive. It’s a vicious cycle. The denial leads to choices that hurt us all; fatherlessness, domestic violence, gang violence, mass killings, common disregard for others, for our health, for the health of our society, and the health and vitality of our planet.
Rather than co-creating a culture of empathy, we co-create a culture of sociopathy.
How would the world be different if boys and girls were taught healthy habits of empathy, acknowledgment and self-responsibility from the age of 1 or 2 instead of the instant and immediate denial and repression of the bumps, bruises, and pains that we all experience every day?
It may take different forms for men and women, but it’s the same game. We teach each other to lie. And we punish each other for breaking the silent rules of the game.
And we all lose.
I know you care about people. I know you deeply care. You got trapped in a game, and made a choice that many of us make in small and large ways every day. You lied. That doesn’t make you bad. It tells me that you’re well-trained.
And as a public figure … you’ve paid a heavy price. And your actions have impacted a lot of people. There’s nothing we love more than a fallen-hero. On a subconscious level it gives us a glimpse of the game … the game of denial … and let’s us keep it ‘out there’ at arms length rather than owning it for ourselves.
What if you (what if we all!?) had a safe place to start undoing the training? We don’t have to over-indulge in the pain of our experiences, but it is essential that we learn to acknowledge and witness the pain of life, in ourselves and in each other.
Lance Armstrong – you’re invited to come sit with us. And if you want to, you can take off the mask and set it aside for a while. I’m inviting you to come check in – I’ve offered three reasons, and there are lots more.
I know with certainty that I won’t be catching up to you on a bike, but maybe there’s another kind of journey I can ride with you on.
With respect and admiration – Boysen Hodgson
413-883-2462, Text me, call me, stop by.
PS. The day the Lance Armstrong interview aired on Oprah, January 17, over 100 supporters of the ManKind Project were in Chicago in the audience for the filming of Oprah’s Lifeclass with Iyanla Vanzant on “Fatherless Sons,” parts I and II. “Fatherless Sons – the Reaction” aired two weeks ago. Men from the ManKind Project were there again. These are Oprah’s highest rated Lifeclass shows ever.
– is a deeply personal issue that everyone decides for himself. Sometimes the price is high, sometimes low. But this is not very important for life. Life is an interesting thing. And the price on Viagra – too.