When I first spoke to Jules we didn't get on.
Here was a confident, successful, intelligent, passionate woman; so being a man in my mid 30s I took this as a personal challenge and a one-sided competition ensued. One I should add I wasn't even aware I was having, such was my self-awareness at the time.
Fast forward nine months and we were sat reviewing our last six months coaching together when Jules shared with me that she was surprised I ever agreed to coach with her because, in her words, "I thought I pushed too many of your buttons".
She was right but I explained that it was precisely because of this that I wanted to be coached by her. I wasn't interested in having a comfortable chat with someone to give me momentary contentment. I wanted a deep life changing experience because I had reached a cross roads in my life and had simply made a decision that things had to change.
Rewind six months to before we'd met, and I had reached one of those life changing moments that people write about in books. Two lightning bolts had struck me in the space of a few weeks that were to change my life forever. I broke up with my partner which had a devastating effect on me and then my dad was diagnosed with bowel cancer. My world was totally rocked but these two events served to wake me up from a 20 year malaise that felt so liberating but at the same time left me full of so many questions.
I began to make a lot of changes to my life and moved from, what I could get in life to, what I could give. I stopped looking at what I could join but at what I could create.
This culminated in me starting an organisation called MICA where I arranged inspiring talks and used the proceeds to invest in community art projects, and it was through this that I first met Jules as I had booked her to speak at one of my events.
I know I wasn't an easy person to coach in those early days. Jules quickly highlighted a desire to apply controlling behaviour in situations which had become such a deep part of me that it had bypassed any sense of awareness. We worked a lot on my negative self-talk which began to reduce and I began to notice a lower level hum beneath this at a deeper level that was more akin to feeling than to thinking. I didn't realise it at the time but I had started to feel myself in a far deeper way than I had before. This had been there all the time but I'd never noticed. I used to work in an office and when I worked late the office would be deserted and you couldn't hear a sound, total silence, or so I thought. Then the air conditioning would turn off and then it was silent. This low hum going unnoticed all day until the moment it's removed, and our awareness is upgraded, never the same again. There are many of these moments in our life if we look out for them, and I had just found one of mine.
However, it was something that came up in our final session that was to have the greatest long term impact on me, and was to pave the way for the direction I was going to take for the rest of my life. We were reflecting on our time together and if any further coaching would be suitable. To Jules' great credit she said to me that she didn't think further coaching with her would serve me at this time, and recommended a strong masculine coach to help me along my journey.
During the sessions a key theme that had surfaced was a tendency for me to be a nice guy with a pleasing, easy going style. I was apologetic in demeanour, and especially around my relationships with women. It's no surprise I found a strong woman to coach me because it gave me a perfect opportunity to argue with her just like I had done as a child with my strong mum and older sister. I had unknowingly repressed my true masculine core as a result and created a feminine shell in it's place, as I believed this was the only way I could get the love I craved. As I began to notice this during my 20s and 30s I replaced it with a masculine shell of who I thought people wanted me to be instead of who I truly was. I had no connection to the true masculine man I was deep inside.
The suggestion to find a strong male coach and introduction to the works of David Deida (who writes about masculine and feminine expressions of divinity) shifted my track and began to shine a light on my repressed masculine and feminine shell. I began to immerse myself in an area called men's work with one of David's students who became my teacher and mentor. Men's work is an area that helps men to explore and embody a deeper expression of their true masculine self and this work spoke to me in a very deep way. I joined a mens programme and was supported and challenged by a group of powerful men to face my deepest fears and lean in to them which terrified me but from which I grew exponentially.
We supported each other to find and embody a deeper sense of purpose to create and connect to something greater than ourselves, and then live from this place in the world. My relationships began to change, and seven months ago it culminated in me leaving my corporate career of 15 years and I began a new relationship for the first time in four years since my breakup.
Today I run an organisation I founded called The Inspiring Men Project which is to help men to step up to a higher standard of what it means to be a man in the same way that I was supported to do the same. It's to help men to step out of the shadows and to move forward towards a more embodied and inspiring man to help inspire the next generation. I'm passionate about empowering and supporting men to live inspiring lives of purpose and meaning and to create powerful groups of men to support them along their journey.
There are a lot of influential male role models at the moment who are modelling a very toxic form of masculinity. Young boys and girls are highly influenced by the patriarchal rhetoric that they are fed every day in the media so I want to help support the movement to provide an alternative way for men to be and be seen. There are many good men in the world and it is my vision to help inspire many more.
For more information on The Inspiring Men Project please visit theinspiringmenproject.com
Jules was a huge part of this. She was the first one to really start to open me up and her advice to find a good strong male coach was what lead me to this work. She also introduced me to David Deida and Blue Truth. And I'm still reading it today. Thank you Jules!!To find out more about coaching with Jules visit the website or get in touch.