Making a comeback from a crisis – whether in business or one’s personal life – is never easy. Yet it’s not a walk of shame. On the contrary, it's a tenacious, wiser, deeper second stage of a lifelong journey.
Early dawn as the sun rises on the Rosebank skyline, Johannesburg South Africa.
“Rest but never quit. Even the sun has a sinking spell each evening. But it always rises the next morning. At sunrise, every soul is born again.– Muhammad Ali”
2019 has been a tough year, filled with local and international upheaval in politics, the economy, population displacement and gender violence. Men are trash, we're told. You know the slogan. You’ve seen the tweets. Hell, you’ve felt the shame.
It’s been a year of uncertainty, anxiety and dislodging of many assumptions – including who we are and where we're going. It’s easy to feel as if we are disintegrating. How will we put ourselves together again? What detritus are we leaving behind – and how will it impact others? As Marvin Gaye famously asked: “What’s going on?”
The answer is: change. It’s easy to write – but manifestly challenging to achieve. Especially after the loss of a job, loved ones, a business, a reputation, a relationship or one's health. In addiction rehabilitation circles, there's a phrase used to describe the process of returning to oneself: "recovery capital". It refers to the slow, often painful but always rewarding process of assessing what never changed within oneself, despite the chaos. One's bottom-line values. One's love for family and friends. One's conscience. These things are constants -and while they've been violated, they never vanished. The road back to a sense of purpose and meaning is built on these foundations. It's a model which assumes that each of us already knows all the answers we seek nobody is a better expert on our lives than we are. By asking courageous questions of ourselves – and giving truthful, equally brave answers – each of us can identify what a happy, fulfilled, and valuable life looks like for us.
There’s also another principle underlying this process. The word “recovery” means, literally, “getting back”. But before that happens, we need to know what was lost or taken from us. And the best source for finding that is at the point of impact the fault lines which brought us down in the first instance. The place where we broke is also the place where we’ll recover.
The answer is never in walking away from what damaged us, but towards it – so that we can interrogate it, harness it, and empower ourselves.
We men are going through severe breakdowns of archetypes, patriarchal constructs of identity, traditional roles and social status. We may not be recovering addicts, but – like addicts -we need to “hit the wall”, because that’s the point at which there’s only one direction left to go: upwards, back towards what’s right and magical in ourselves.
We need to rethink our masculinity and find the kings and warriors inside us. In returning to the “point of impact”- where we went wrong – were going to need some collateral.
I can do no better than offer the following:
Success is not final; failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.– Winston Churchill”