How Are the Guys Doing?

I work with a lot of men and have been thinking a lot about what male ‘issues’ vs. female ‘issues’ are. There have been a lot of things written lately about how men have been affected more by the economic downturn than women. Clearly this is true when we look at the numbers and the fact that so many jobs that have been lost have been in the manufacturing and financial arenas — male dominated job sectors.

Most of us who work derive so much of our identity from what we do; men and women alike. I see this time we’re going through as a mind boggling, soul wrenching push — or nudge — to wake people up to see that they are more than what they do to earn a living. You may read that and say ‘Easy for you to say. You’re a woman.’ But I — and millions of women — derive a sense of identity, accomplishment, personal satisfaction from work and the money made. And I spend a great deal of time focusing on my son and my husband and friends. The difference that’s becoming starkly clear is that men have relied, often, on their work and place of work as the soul source or ball field of friendship. When that workplace is removed the ball field disappears. The team is gone. The daily challenge and comraderie is removed and is replaced by an isolating, shameful spaciousness. And then the barrage of personal doubts, helpful questions and nudges from loving family members engulf men like quick sand. And then the media (I’m a little down on the reporting that’s been done lately) — Newsweek’s article about men losing jobs was a mishmash of male bashing and observation. Net result…ugh.

So here are my recommendations:
Men – do channel your competitive drive into some game oriented sports or hit the gym and make some new physical goals for yourself. Write down all of your accomplishments — personal and professional. Know your financial realities and share them openly with your spouse.

Set the expectations with your family about what you are doing to find new work and what you will share with your spouse about your job search. I have to tell you that many men I work with don’t want their wives involved in their search. They don’t even tell their wives they are using my services to help them with their career change. Why? They don’t think they’ll be respected for doing this. What I know is that women hate to be left out of their partner’s process. Don’t make your woman beg to learn what you’re doing to solve this challenge…set the tone by honestly telling them what you hope to accomplish and that just as in business an outside consultant can identify where the gaps are in your efficiency. Women are working hard to keep their families and their office or work responsibilities intact, so they understand these difficulties from a multi-dimensional perspective.

Compassion and honesty are key here. The message that’s ‘in our face’ right now is that of the need for inter-dependence, community and compassion. Time to get real. Being real allows for action that is clear and honest. What a refreshing change. Out with the old and in with the new. As one of my male clients says — his new motto is Embrace Change. You never know how great this new way of being can affect you and all of those around you. Men are famous for being adventurous. Time to go for it!