Friday, July 5, 2024

The Flaws of the Old Ideology

The Man Camp Project has been a work in progress, in some form or another, for about twelve years. Over time, the ideas have expanded and have been refined. The ideas, as they've been represented on this particular blog, have been pretty effective. However, they haven't been perfect. 

In particular, the implementation of the ideas have left some significant gaps, such as...

  • Work-Life Balance
    • Issue: Many modern American men struggle to balance demanding careers with family and personal life.The Old Ideas certainly helped with romantic relationships, but didn't really address work-life balance beyond "Don't make women the center of your life." How do you balance a career and a relationship, or a career and a family? It's a tricky balancing act that isn't addressed in the Old Ideas.
  • Mental Health and Stress Management
    • Issue: High levels of stress, anxiety, and mental health issues are common among men today. While the Old Ideas included some stuff related to emotional intelligence and empathy, the curriculum lacks a focused approach on mental health awareness, stress management techniques, and access to mental health resources. Most of the Old Ideas addressed mental health through indirect prevention, which is incredibly effective... until it isn't. 
  • Career Transition and Job Market Adaptation
    • Issue: With the rapidly changing job market, men often face challenges in career transitions and adapting to new industries or roles. Although there is some focus on financial and employment improvement in the Old Ideas, there is limited emphasis on navigating career transitions, upskilling, and adapting to new job market demands. I've had a front row seat regarding this issue for the last few years as I've switched industries. 
  • Healthy Lifestyle and Nutrition
    • Issue: Maintaining a healthy lifestyle over time, including proper nutrition and physical fitness, is crucial. While physical challenges are included, there is minimal focus on nutrition education, meal planning, and long-term healthy lifestyle habits. The Old Ideas did place a high value on health and fitness, but it didn't address sustaining that for long periods of time.
  • Financial Literacy and Planning
    • Issue: Financial stability and planning for the future are significant concerns for many men. Although there is some content on financial management within the Old Ideas, the curriculum does not comprehensively cover financial literacy, investment strategies, retirement planning, and managing debt.
  • Parenting and Family Dynamics
    • Issue: Many men seek guidance on being effective fathers and managing family dynamics. The Old Ideas do not address parenting skills, family communication, or balancing parental responsibilities with personal goals.
  • Social Isolation and Loneliness
    • Issue: Social isolation and loneliness are growing problems, exacerbated by technology and busy lifestyles. While there are team-building and social bonding activities baked into the Old Ideas, the curriculum could benefit from more focus on building lasting social connections and combating loneliness.I've dabbled with solutions to fix this (ala various "tribalism" experiments), but all had fatal flaws related to busy lives.
  • Dealing with Societal Expectations
    • Issue: Modern men often struggle with societal expectations and pressures related to masculinity, success, and emotional expression. Even though they had pretty strong, clear definitions of masculinity, the Old Ideas do not explicitly address how to navigate and challenge societal norms and expectations about masculinity and success.I think the Old Ideas got masculinity right, but they did a poor job of explaining how those values fit within the broader social landscape.
  • Substance Abuse and Addiction
    • Issue: Substance abuse and addiction are significant issues that affect many men. The Old Ideas do not include education or support for dealing with substance abuse, addiction, or developing healthy coping mechanisms. This was a major oversight on my part.
  • Creative Expression
    • Issue: While the Old Ideas included various forms of personal development and skill-building, there is limited emphasis on creative expression and artistic activities, which are important for self-actualization.
  • Philosophical or Existential Exploration
    • Issue: There is a lack of activities that encourage deep philosophical or existential reflection, which can be crucial for achieving a sense of self-actualization.
  • Public Speaking or Leadership Roles
    • Issue: Although there are leadership training and rotating leadership roles, there could be more opportunities for participants to take on significant leadership roles or engage in public speaking, which can enhance esteem from others.
  • Personal Projects or Initiatives
    • Issue: While there are project assignments, more emphasis could be placed on allowing participants to pursue individual projects or initiatives that reflect their unique interests and passions, fostering a greater sense of autonomy.

Together, these holes in the Old Ideas aren't reason to scrap them. The Old Ideas are good. They've been proven to work. They make life a hell of a lot better

Originally, after identifying these gaps, I tried simply filling them in. It solved the problem, but the entire Project just didn't seem right. It took an embarrassingly long time to figure out the problem was the way the ideas were framed.

 Originally, the Project was framed as a way to fix "Nice Guys." That was fine... if you were, indeed, a "Nice Guy." 

If not, the Project was close to useless.

Eventually I stumbled upon the answer, which has been in front of me for a looooong time:


Specifically, Abraham Maslow's Theory of Human Motivation (which is usually represented inaccurately as a pyramid of needs divided into five levels, which fall into two categories - deficiency needs and growth needs.) The general idea is that humans are motivated by satisfying these needs, and the more they're satisfied, the closer we get to feeling fulfilled. 

The idea is pretty old, and it's something I taught in my psych classes for a couple of decades. But it wasn't until I read Scott Barry Kaufman's book "Transend" that I had the epiphany that gave me a better frame for the Man Camp Ideas. 

In the book, Kaufman finishes the work Maslow started. He redefines the needs using an absolutely brilliant "sailboat" analogy (which I'll describe in a different post another day.) I realized I didn't need to fill in the missing gaps outlined above. I needed a new way to frame the Ideas.

So here we are. I've been working on blending Kaufman's model with the Man Camp ideas, which has been completed. In the near future, I'll hash out the New Ideas, then start documenting my self-experimentation. It'll start with what I am calling "Tier One", which are prerequisites to the Man Camp Ideas. 

Stay tuned. I'll be documenting the progress here, on Facebook (both on my personal account and in the Man Camp Group), and probably on Youtube

Stay tuned!





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