I stood there in the center of 9 elder men all blessing me on what I’ve accomplished and my move to Kansas City. Their ages ranged from mid 50’a to one who just had his 90th birthday. Each man taking time to speak how they saw me and what their impression of me was. It felt wonderful to be recognized and appreciated for all the hard work I put in towards the project.
How it all started was by me being fed up with the way the ManKind Project lodge looked. It was a space that hadn’t been maintained except for the very bare minimum for the past 20 years. It was filthy, it had lost its organization, the mold was hiding in places to be found, walls had holes in them, the two layers of carpet, yes, TWO layers, were both filthy, and when you left the space I felt dirtier than when I came in. The only reason why I continued to come to the lodge was the community there. The community of men is like none other that I’ve ever met. These men are committed to making a difference for others in the world. A real and lasting difference. A community where every man is welcome.
It’s a place where we get to discover who we are, to be understood, a safe place to share anything in your life that you’re dealing with. A place where you won’t feel judged, a place where you’ll feel loved no matter what you have going on. The ManKind Project is an international non-profit organization dedicated to helping men understand themselves, their emotions, and help them become better men.
It’s because of the community and the difference they’ve made for me that I felt called to clean up the lodge and create a dignified space for every member to enjoy. Especially new members who want to become better fathers, husbands, brothers, co-workers, and friends to those in their lives. I wanted to create a space that brought intention, growth, and inspiration to space and community.
So, I created a community improvement project team and we went to work on collaborating together as a community to create a whole new space for the community. The project lasted about six months and I am now complete with improving the lodge. The following is what I learned by stepping into becoming a leader in a community project. If you’ve ever wanted something to change in your community maybe it’s time you BE that change for yourself and others!
I feel really proud to have taken on such a large community project that will make a lasting difference for other the community now and in the future. In reality, though, it wasn’t just me. It was WE that did the work. I just acted as the catalyst and didn’t have to do all the work. Although I did do a lot of the work and am very grateful for all the contribution the community made to complete the project. We couldn’t have done it without them.
I thought, in the beginning, it was more about making the lodge a cleaner place to come to grow but what I got was so much more! I grew my leadership and one of the best descriptions I received was that I became a servant leader. That in itself feels great and makes it all worth it. In my opinion, kind of like a King. 🙂
So here are some of my biggest lessons along the way!
-What I learned is that if I seek to understand others and be curious for them they are more inclined to help because they feel heard and understood.
-What I’ve learned is include as many people as possible to start a community project. Make sure they know they have a chance to be heard before just starting something new because any new project will have an impact on them. It goes a long way.
-What I’ve learned is if I have an inspired idea to just go with it and figure out the details along the way.
-What I’ve learned is to speak my truth and ask for help to get things done.
-What I’ve learned is you can’t please everyone but you can listen and let them be heard and that makes all the difference.
-What I’ve learned is to let go of controlling the outcome and go with the flow. Especially when working with people. Let them share their ideas and if they are inspired let them run with it and just back them up when they need help.
-What I’ve learned is that when I give back from a place of inspiration and joy is that I’ll receive even more back.
-What I learned is that I donated a lot my own time and money to renovate the project and that in the background the community had donated exactly what was needed for the whole project. I stepped in gave it my all and then was repaid back in full for all my donations.
-What I learned is that I may have lost my father when I was 18 but now have gained a whole community of Fathers. This feels great and was totally unexpected! 🙂
It feels good to be a servant leader and have a community that loves you!