Focusing on relationship work is the best and highest leverage point any man could make towards his leadership and business development. I’ve been working in this domain for almost 20 years, and in that time what I’ve seen over and over again are men willing to invest in leadership and business development, but put intimacy and relationship development on the back-burner. What I hear them say is they’ll handle their relationships when they’ve launched their business, made enough money, have more time, etc.
I don’t say this with any judgment. It makes sense when you understand both The Masculine and also men in this culture.
The Masculine in all of us will always desire more simplicity, and intimacy work, well, isn’t simple! Relational work can be messy, complex and downright confusing – and most men would instead invest their time and money into something with a guaranteed ROI in terms of making more money, or solidifying their purpose in the world. Not to mention that, culturally, men are taught they need to handle those things first and there can be a lot of both internal and external pressure to succeed and perform. I also see a lot of men holding the mistaken idea that making more money, or being more successful will solve their relationship problems.
“She’s always complaining I don’t have enough time and if I made more money, I’d have more time.”
“Once I get my business to a certain level, then I’ll be able to take more time off – then I’ll focus on my relationship.”
“I want to be able to support my family, so I need to put all my attention on money/my purpose/building my business right now. Once that’s solid, I definitely want us to work on our relationship!”
Ergo, if I made more money, my relationship would be easier.
There’s a couple of things I want to address about this tendency of men focusing on business or leadership development first and relationship later which often ends up being never.
First, in relationships, there is no later. You’re either doing the work or you’re not.
Men or women who put off truly creating their relationships from a conscious and generous place, too often find that by the time they are ready to do the work the relationship is too far gone. Decades of neglect can be healed, but it takes a lot, and certainly a lot more than putting the time and attention in before anything is not working.
While women can be as guilty of this as men, women are often more likely to lean in around intimacy and The Feminine in all of us is more inclined towards connection than agency.
Second (and, honestly, more importantly), intimacy and relationship work IS the most powerful leadership development there is. Especially if you are a man, who tends towards the Masculine side of the spectrum – and especially if you are in a heterosexual relationship- building your capacity to lead in your relationship will absolutely translate into a much deeper, more innate and nuanced capacity for leadership in any other area of your life, including business.
In working on what it truly takes to meet your wife, girlfriend, lover, or intimate partner, you will be learning how to lead your team better, be a better boss, teacher, or CEO and discover a greater purpose. Whatever your intimate partner is most deeply longing for from you is also what the rest of the world is dying for more of from you.
True leadership is who we’re being, not what we’re doing.
Most leadership programs teach you what to do, but true leadership is about who we be far more than what we do. When we’re working directly through the lens of relationship and intimacy, the focus is always on who we’re being and how to bring that being to every moment, which has a direct link to leadership in all areas your life. Leadership development tends to speak directly to the mind—you can understand something, but it doesn’t change who you are, and often that’s what needs to happen to lead and create more effectively in the world.
In business, there is often an incorrect assumption that being a strong leader means being bossy, or controlling, or intimidating – a my way or the highway or a survival of the fittest mentality.
In relationships I often see a different misunderstanding – one that says to be a strong man or ‘masculine’ is to stoically take whatever your intimate partner throws your way, without any impact.
Leadership in business and in relationships is neither – it’s not just about choosing a direction and demanding that everyone follow, going it alone, nor is leadership in either of these areas about being stoically imperturbable. True leadership is about being committed to a broader vision that is for the benefit of all and feeling what is needed in every moment, while staying committed to your ways of being, no matter what.
Mastering these capacities with your intimate partner will always be more challenging than with your team, as a CEO, or with your clients. And if you step into doing the work around your relationship, bringing these skills to all of those other areas becomes as natural as breathing.
(Watch the video below to hear stories about how this has applied in my own life – including working in corporate)
What ‘she’ is calling for from you is what the world is calling for from you.
Your intimate partner may or may not be saying it in a skilled way – in fact, depending on whether she’s done her own deep work, she may not even know the depth of what she is longing for – but what your partner is asking for from you is the exact thing you need to bring to your work. The reasons she won’t follow you, doesn’t deeply trust you, and perhaps isn’t attracted to you anymore, are, at an energetic level, the same reason your team is in chaos, your employees are leaving, you seem to need to ‘do it all yourself’, or you can’t establish a strong vision for your life. The reflection you get from your intimate relationship is a direct reflection of what your business life is calling for from you – if you’re willing and able to listen at a deeper level.
(Watch the video below to hear a story about my work in the Authentic Man Program)
If you master leadership in your relationship, you will master leadership in life.
If you can lead in your relationship, you can lead anywhere in life. Period. The reverse is not necessarily true. Plenty of men have earned accolades in the business world and yet their marriage, or intimate life is in shambles, which is why I always say: If you think you have to choose between relationship training and business or leadership development, do the relationship work first because it will serve your business and leadership development ten-fold.
How you serve in your business, your capacity to lead a team, to be a manager, to understand what the business needs – they are all directly related to your intimate partner or even the woman you are dating. If you can lead and guide your relationship with any level of grace, ease, humor, and strength, you will be able to do that in the world. Intimate relationships take the most skill and the most stability of practice – it’s the hardest realm; it may be challenging, and you may want to throw in the towel, but doing the work at that level will make life worth living on every level.
(Watch the video below for answers from people in the Facebook live on how this relates to their life)
This is deep and powerful work that can transform who you are on every level. Not everyone wants that, or is ready for that – and that’s OK. But when you’re willing to take your whole life on, choose the relationship and intimacy program over the leadership development program. It’s just more bang for your buck!