Men and the Fine Art of Surrender

Surrendering to “what is” can be one of the most courageous acts a human being can choose to do—here’s why…

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See the author’s TEDx Talk on Creating Extraordinary Intimacy in a Shut Down World

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In most cultures, “surrender” is usually equated with giving up, yielding to the power or control of another, allowing one to be dominated, essentially demonstrating weakness. No wonder it has such a negative vibe, especially for men. It first appears to be the very opposite of heroics; efforts put forth by seemingly unstoppable individuals who eventually prevail no matter what the obstacles. We all love the hero and, at best, distance ourselves from the “loser”, the one who surrenders.

There is another side to surrender that can be far more empowering and transformative than even the greatest feats of heroics. Opening yourself up to this shift in how you look at and utilize surrender in your life can make the difference between living a life based on fear or one full of self-expression and unimagined possibilities.

Giving Up vs. Acceptance

There is a big distinction between giving up and acceptance of what is. Giving up implies a hopelessness, resignation and a sense of being powerless. Acceptance of “what is” is often the threshold to the doorway of possibilities you can’t even imagine. Acceptance of “what is” reflects a much more empowering form of surrender. When you accept/surrender to what is you are no longer fighting the reality of the “isness” which frees you up to explore, discover and experience other wonders.

A Fate Worse Than Death

Three years ago I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Given that five other members of my immediate family have perished from various forms of cancer, this was not to be taken lightly. Despite the encouraging biopsy results that indicated a mild case, I chose to listen to my intuition rather than the doctors and insisted that they remove my prostate immediately. It’s a good thing they did because the post-surgery tissue studies shown that the cancer was extremely aggressive. So aggressive, in fact, that they had to do follow up intensive daily radiation for seven weeks.

As a result of all these treatments, I was rendered clinically impotent. For many men, this is considered a fate worse than death (I’ve actually had men tell me that). I fought this reality with everything I had –especially considering I had just ended a 26-year marriage where the last 11 years were celibate.

So when I finally met the love of my life a year later and it became clear we were going to be more than just hiking buddies, I was still determined to “make things work” like they used to.


My partner is an incredibly beautiful and conscious woman who had never been with a man impacted by erectile dysfunction before. Her adventurous spirit made her open to exploring what might be possible in the intimacy department. Neither of us really knew what it meant to explore other ways of being intimate, but we were more than willing to find out.

We wanted to make our first intimate time together special. So I booked a night at a natural hot springs resort about 100 miles North of where we live in Santa Barbara, Ca. Upon arrival we were greeted with an incredible suite that had the biggest and highest four-poster bed I’ve ever seen, a fireplace and our own private natural hot-springs tub on the adjoining deck. Our jaws were hanging in awe as we fully took in what awaited us.

I still hadn’t given up the notion of having intercourse with this beautiful, sexy, wonderful woman. And to demonstrate my commitment to that end I brought the full complement of erectile “artillery”. This included the highest dose of Cialis you can buy and a dose of Muse, which is a very expensive intra urethral suppository that is much stronger than Cialis or Viagra. And just in case everything else fails, I also brought the vacuum pump which typically works no matter what.

Keep in mind that when we first laid down together on that incredible bed it had been over 12 years since experiencing sex with anyone. To say I was excited is the world’s greatest understatement. The only problem was, my excitement failed to show where it counted most. After 30 minutes of foreplay, it was clear that the Cialis wasn’t working. So we brought out the “big-guns”. She helped me with inserting the Muse capsule into my penis (not particularly conducive to sensual romance but usually very effective). After another 20 minutes or so of exquisitely delicious fondling and caressing –nothing, nada, zip.

By this time, little beads of sweat started forming on my bald pate. Still being the ever optimistic one I said to her:“Sweetie no problem, I brought the ‘fail-safe’ solution –the pump! It’s just physics after all and if there is one thing I do understand it’s physics!”; said with a bit of bravado more to mask my growing anxiety than provide hope or encouragement to my rapidly deteriorating chances of enjoying intercourse.

As I sat on the bed and start pumping for all I’m worth she laid there looking absolutely gorgeous with an amused look on her face that essentially said: “Do we really have to go through all this every time we make love?” After a minute or so of pumping I’m starting to see results! YES!!!! That is, until I inadvertently sucked in my left testicle at which point I doubled over in excruciating pain.

By this time sweat is pouring down my face, and my darkest fears seemed to come true as I thought: “It’s over before we even got started.” However, it was at that very moment something extraordinary happened. I finally accepted the “isness” of my situation and simply stopped fighting it.


I became very quiet, turned around and looked into her big, beautiful eyes and said: “I’m done. Let’s forget all of this and just lie together and see what happens.” What happened was we made love for at least four hours (while being completely flaccid and not using any toys or aids). Then the next morning we made love for another two hours or so until it was time to head back. What we experienced was so profound that it is now the subject of a new book, countless radio interviews, speeches and a TEDx talk.


Here’s what I discovered through this whole process. Accepting “what is” is equivalent to surrendering to the possibility of transformation. Once I stopped fighting and resisting what simply was, I was open to worlds of experience and insights I had no idea even existed.

In the context of what I shared with you above it should be clear that my acceptance/surrender was anything but a sign of weakness. Without it I would have remained a very frustrated, angry man wondering how fate could have been so cruel. Through my surrender, I now have an intimate life that is beyond my wildest dreams.

There is a strong cultural imprint that men must do whatever it takes to achieve a certain end and anything short of that is a failure, defeat. I’m hoping that you now see this is not necessarily true. The best things in life are not those we “make happen”, but those that we allow to show up because we simply got out of the way.

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About the Author

MichaelJRusser_FORUM_LEADERMichael J. Russer is a prostate cancer survivor who was left completely impotent as a result of his treatments. Yet, it was because of his impotence that he and his partner discovered an entirely new approach to emotional, physical and spiritual intimacy that far exceeds anything either experienced prior to when things were working “correctly.” His mission is to help men, women and couples everywhere to achieve extraordinary intimacy on all levels.

He is an international speaker, author and thought leader on the issues of human connection and intimacy. He also speaks pro-bono to Cancer Support Centers and Gilda’s Clubs around the U.S. for cancer survivors and their partners about regaining intimacy in the face of cancer. Go to to explore the possibility of having Michael speak at your next event.

Michael is also a champion of the nonprofit men’s work being done by the ManKind Project ( He completed the New Warrior Training Adventure in 2012.

iTunes:            Creating Extraordinary Intimacy in a Disconnected World
TEDx Talk:




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