Men need to network at least as much as women do, but we’re not as good at it. I, myself, would much prefer to do things alone and make decisions by myself. I don’t like to ask directions. What man does? As much as I appreciate my wife’s advice, life has taught me that I also need other men in my life. I need to network.
I grew up in an academic environment rather than a team sports environment. Everything I needed could be found in a book. About ten years ago, many circumstances led me to a season of disconnectedness. I had moved to a new town and was single again. I found myself more alone than usual. Although I invited guys to visit and hang out with me, almost no one responded. It was an eye-opener for me to realize that I didn’t have even one close friend, at a time when I really wanted one. As much as it was against my nature, I had to admit how much I needed other men in my life. Because of that dark period of my life, networking became a deep conviction.
What is networking? The word “network” has been in the dictionary since the sixteenth century, meaning a net-like arrangement of connections. The verb “to network” is also old, but since the 1980’s has been used to describe the activity of connecting to other people. The image of a net describes it very well. We are one knot that is connected by strings to other nodes. When the connections break, the net fails. So it is with us.
Five years ago, I expressed my commitment to moving “Beyond Myself” in a set of poems, but it still wasn’t clear to me how to do it. Social media is filled with superficial connections to “friends”. Relationships in family, work, church, and activities don’t usually get that deep. It takes courage and effort to develop transparent commitments that make us accountable to mature men. Today, I have a list of over twenty men who are in my life. What I resolve to do is to purposely meet regularly with each one who is willing, and get to know them better.
It has already been a good experience for me, but I ask myself if this is only my problem or if it’s a general problem of our society. Are men losing their identity and purpose? Are men losing their integrity? Are men losing their courage to lead with honor? Are we losing our culture? We don’t have to. Men can network with other good men.