2-1 Basic Elements

Starting and ending with the fundamentals

Getting your organization off the ground doesn't require a lot of knowledge. In some ways, this handbook is overkill. You may only ever want to read this page, and nothing else. (Maybe later you want to dig around for more ideas?) So what are the Basic Elements in starting up?

  1. Your basic idea or vision - what you want to create, or the problem/issue to address
  2. Determination - synonyms could be - will-power -faith - energy - trust
  3. Self-care - taking care of yourself well-enough so that you can keep on doing it

If it's going to be more than a one man band -

  1. Good-will - finding allies/recruits - compromise, cooperation, and 'mutuality' with others

Determination is saying: "I am going to do it" - and then doing the work of 'doing it'. Without self-care it's just a matter of time before frustration, disillusion and burn-out hit you. 'Good-will' will determine your growth and success.

Starting out

If you want to get off on a good footing, ask yourself if you have all these components, and work at establishing and maintaining them. Our passion, our idea or vision brings us in, our determination allows us to follow through. It's normal for energy to change over time, yet our vision hasn't changed, it is still a worthwhile, even commendable goal, where then did my energy, my determination go? Raw emotional oomph can take us so far but if our vision is high enough, so that we still recognize it as a worthwhile goal and don't just chuck it away, then we have to be smart enough to know how to renew ourselves. Item 3) above, Self-Care, will help us relieve stress and to renew our energy.

Maintaining energy

Sometimes our thinking will change; we may realize our approach has been a 'reactionary' one, and a new perspective has dawned on us, reducing the amount of emotional rawness that pushed us into our position. We may decide to let go of our idea at this point, and put the whole thing down to experience. Organizations that base themselves on this kind of 'reactionary', even negative, stance, may lose the energy to sustain themselves over time. A better approach is to think through what you're reacting against and ask yourself-what would be the positive action that would solve this problem, or address this issue, and then express your idea or vision in positive terms and actions. Psychologically this is much easier to sustain over time.

Sometimes the men's movement is judged as being 'reactionary'. Of course as we wake up to and become aware of our issues, then it is normal for human beings to 'react' emotionally - with alarm, disdain, anger, resentment etc. (Try reading Warren Farrel's The Myth of Male Power and not have a reaction!) The challenge at the organizational level is to couch our agenda is positive terms, that look beyond the confrontation of the issue/problem and promote the harmony - equality - health - recognition - balance -support etc. that ultimately we do wish to create through our organizational efforts.


If or when things crap-out, analyse what has happened from a number of perspectives:

  1. human dynamics - ego clashes - these happen despite our best intentions - could mediation/conflict resolution have helped?
  2. burn-out, lack of self-care?
  3. changing organizational perspectives/agendas? - does our vision need renewing? - our organizational procedures?
  4. was good-will lost? - where? - can we get it back? - how?

Renewal is possible. It is about recognizing change as inevitable, even to be welcomed, even as it is sometimes accompanied by heat and friction as two opposing ideas or agendas clash on the battlefield of debate. What was, has gone. What is to come remains to be created - which is where we started originally. Change can make people uncomfortable, they will often resist it, but it is often about growth and new possibilities. 'Change or die!' I believe is a saying of one of the Hindu gods. Be wary of not being able to adapt or change; it may mean losing support and the ultimate demise of your organization. Of course this has to be weighed against the many chaotic influences or ideas you will encounter in your day to day running of business; you will still need to steer a course that remains true to your vision, mindful of sea-changes, whirlpools, or storms that may lie ahead.

Ultimately renewal is about rebuilding the ship of who you are and where you wish to go, and inviting like-minded people to help construct it with you and to journey on what you have created together. How many times will we be shipwrecked under the weight of false expectations, loss of good-will, burn-out, even just from changing circumstances? How many times will we have to go back to our starting point? This effort comes from a place in our hearts, and is a measure of our own healing, balance, and non-judgement.

The Underlying Principle

In very general terms, we are trying to effect change, or transformation. Where does this happen first? - In our own minds. Permit to quote that masterful document dealing with thought processes and transformation - The Bible - somewhere it says "Be ye transformed by the renewal of thy mind". Whatever happens on this journey, it all ultimately comes back to us as individuals and our own thinking. So do we hold onto our difficulties with resentment or judgement? Or do we recognize those challenges as a new lesson? - a new opportunity to question our thinking, and renew our minds? Is this where transformation actually happens? -for all of us?

You don't even need a plan; I believe one man holding to a higher vision or principle, even without a plan or agenda, a principle that is about service to his fellow man, even without knowing how he might achieve his goal, acts like a beacon in the universe, which responds to that light or intention, to guide events and open doors to help fulfil that service. Try it, hold your intention in mind, perhaps as a daily affirmation, and see what doors open for you. I believe that man with a higher purpose, beyond self-interest, will not, and does not stand alone. That of course enters the spiritual realm, and we are focusing on 'political' objectives; but it is our hearts that inspire us, and I believe our hearts are renewed from that place of spirit.

The Only Thing You Really Need?

If one word could encapsulate the above discussion it would be 'INTENTION'. As long as you hold to your intention, everything else is flexible, plans, timetables, personalities -these will all come and go over time. The one constant in this process? Your Intention. Egos can get hung up on plans (the way it's supposed to be…), timetables (this should have happened at this time…), personalities (I don't like the way you did that…). Intention comes from a deeper place; it's open and welcoming and inclusive, and never stops finding a new way to happen.