The Problem With Men

The problem with men is…

As a relationship coach I heard the problems of trying to date and relate to men. Sit in a coffee shop, or a bar, and you’ll often hear women talking about men and their shortcomings. The media tells us about toxic masculinity.

What’s clear is men are struggling.

With relationships. Depression. And suicide.

The world has changed and there’s a section of men who aren’t adapting with it.

Some of them go online to make sense of their situations. Andrew Tate and co tell them they need to dominate their women. The Red Pill and Incel movements tell them they are victims of an unfair world.

It’s a problem that affects the individuals, their relationships, workplaces and society.

In this episode we tried to unravel what is the real issues making men feel like this.

What are the gaps that are leaving women feeling unfulfilled in their relationships.

And how can we navigate through this time of change without leaving angry and broken men behind.

Thanks to Clark Ray and Tony Walmsley for bringing some light to this critical issue.



Clark: [00:00:00] I don’t know what you guys had planned to talk about today, but I’ve got something on my mind. It’s really been bothering me. I especially given that Rob is into relationships and you work so much with so many young guys, Tony or have done in the footballing world.

Clark: It’s, it is been playing on my mind a lot recently because of the type of work I’ve been doing. Most of this week, the last couple of days I’ve been having some calls in the states. So it’s meant that I’ve needed to stay in my office here, which is on a an estate, a sort of a business estate in Norwich.

Clark: And I’ve been staying till maybe 10 in the evening. And what I noticed the last couple of nights was that at about six o’clock, so I’ve got, there’s a street running across here, it’s a fairly quiet part of Norwich. A van will pull up about 30 yards down the road. And there’s just a guy in it, and I, when I look out, I can see he’s just sitting there reading and then the light goes off at whatever time, and I’m guessing he goes to sleep.

Clark: And then about an hour later, a car pulls up over there, and it’s a guy in a car, and he just sits there reading, and then goes to sleep. So I was talking to [00:01:00] the, one of the guys that work here, and I said what’s going on? He said, oh, they’ve got nowhere to live. He said they sleep there every night.

Clark: And I thought, that’s so strange, and I was talking yesterday morning. So in my building, there’s a couple of offices, there’s a factory here, and then there’s a gym just down here. I was talking to the guy that runs the gym, really nice guy, in his thirties, and I told him about this, he said, oh yeah, he said, I know them, he said he said, I’ve been sleeping in my gym for the last couple of months.

Clark: I said, what? Why? He said, me and my wife are having some problems. And I, this started to pique my interest because I thought, wow, this is interesting. Most of my work has always been with guys in, in manufacturing, trade and that sort of thing. But since the accident, a lot of people have approached me about coaching and it predominantly revolves around how men navigate the current environment, let’s say.

Clark: A lot of guys feel out of sync with the way things are. Was asking this guy, if you’ve got problems with your relationship, why are you sleeping in the gym? He said, the thing is, he said, when things were going well, everything was fine, he said, but the minute I started to struggle, and I became vulnerable, The interactions [00:02:00] between me and my partner became very difficult and awkward and he said, I just needed to get out of there because otherwise I haven’t got the time.

Clark: He said, I’ve got business I’m trying to run that’s struggling for money. I’m being attacked at home. He said, I just need to get into somewhere where I can get some peace and focus on my work. So I was thinking about this. Yesterday, that guy, Grayson Murray, died. Committed suicide.

Clark: It makes me laugh because they say you died by suicide. I killed himself. He murdered himself. And that’s not an easy thing to do. How low have you got to be to do that? And I just sat there last night and I thought, I’m going to just Google this and I Googled, is there something wrong with men?

Clark: I just wanted to see what the, what answer, and I got five things. The top five answers were, the trouble with men, how the modern male has reached crisis point, how to fix toxic masculinity, what’s the matter with men, why are some men so terrible and what we do. That’s it. And what’s the problem with men?

Clark: And I just thought there’s a lot of guys out there really struggling and we keep hearing about how these guys need help. And I never see any of it. You never see any [00:03:00] help. Where’s the, where is the help? And I just thought in this forum, I just wanted to get your guys thoughts on this because he actually, being ex military, I’ve seen a lot of military friends go down the same road and it terrifies me.

Clark: Not because I think that. the world is doing something bad to them, but just because they feel that they’re trapped in some way. And it really concerns me because given that this seems to be such a a big issue, so little appears to be done about it. And these guys are dropping like flies. I just wondered if you had any thoughts on it.

Tony: Rob I’ll defer to you in terms of your vast knowledge and relationship experience, but a couple of immediate things spring to mind here. I think there’s a paradox when it comes to vulnerability and this expectation that it’s necessarily always a strength that can leave people, I think, feeling rejected in some cases.

Tony: And when it comes to those interpersonal relationships when, obviously can’t speak to everyone. I don’t know who these guys are, but there was a, at some point in that relationship where they were the guy that, [00:04:00] that, Partners wanted to marry. They thought he was the top man. The man. And I think once there’s a loss of status. It’s interesting, the timing of this.

Tony: I was looking at this stuff myself over the last week or so there’s a biological hierarchy that people, in terms of mating relationships you want to mate up the hierarchy as high as you can get. And I think if there’s a anything like if somebody loses their job or if somebody loses their charisma or there’s a drop in energy or they’re not looking after themselves as, as much as they were.

Tony: It’s probably an unconscious thing, but there’s a loss of status within that relationship. They’re not going to be as admired and as respected they once were. And so I think there’s a lot of work to do to reframe that for people and help them understand what their role is in that take responsibility for themselves.

Tony: And also to be, all of that stoicism and stuff has got some real benefit, I think. 

Clark: Yes. And just before you offer your thoughts on that, Rob. [00:05:00] I think you’re dead right about that loss of status because the guy that runs the gym, I’ve known him since I’ve been in this office, which is about 18 months, he’s a really nice guy in his early 30s.

Clark: Fit, good looking guy, makes me feel jealous looking at him, the guy’s a really perfect specimen of a man. Having spoken to him about it, though, I said what do you think is causing this? He said, look I can’t give it too much thought. He said, because I’ve got a business that’s going down the pan here.

Clark: So I’m trying to keep this thing afloat. He said, but it seems, That when I’m at my most vulnerable when I need the most support is when I’m getting attacked the most and there you go Yeah, that’s really that really stuck with me when you said that because he said it from the heart the guy was in pain I mean He felt that this person that at one point He was the man his partner chose him to spend the rest of their life together And I just got a feeling that he felt like he’d been betrayed.

Clark: Now I’ve heard people talking about how it’s all the women’s movements and all this. I’m not interested in that. I’m more [00:06:00] interested in how the guys can deal with whatever territory we’re having to be living in at the moment, regardless of what else is going on in the world. 

Clark: And when I do coaching with guys, it’s all about how do you become the best version of yourself and magnifying that out a little bit.

Clark: I’m trying to think of how we can help. men in general become the best version of themselves. One of the things I say on my LinkedIn profile is that men don’t have to be less to help women be more. It’s brilliant, the fact that women have got a space at the table. It’s taken over a hundred years for that to happen.

Clark: Yeah. Yeah. It doesn’t mean that the men need to leave the table, and there comes a point, I think, when I was looking at this guy and I didn’t, Actually, specifically say, look, I want to help you coach you or anything, but the conversation that we had, we sat there till quite late last night talking and I thought this guy needs somebody to listen to him and I think that’s a general but yeah, I’ll be interested to hear what you think on that, Rob.

Rob: Yeah I’m trying to grasp really what the crux of the I have some experience in this in being in relationships. Most of [00:07:00] the people I spoke to, it tends to be women. So I have looked more from that side, but I did when I had groups. I noticed that men were different when women weren’t in the room.

Rob: So I had men only groups.

Rob: One of the most common scenarios is someone probably about our age, 40s to 50s, will a man in a, they’ve been in a relationship maybe 25 years, and they’ll just suddenly get up and leave for some younger model. And what I noticed is people go into relationships with a vision. And the problem is they both go into it with their vision of what they want.

Rob: And they think this other person’s going to fulfill it. And then I end up in a tug of war of, if you could just be like this, we’d be perfect together. And if you could just be like this, we’d be perfect together. And they end up pulling at each other.

Rob: Typically men, especially if they’re successful at work, they get like respect from their work, they get especially often it’s someone younger, [00:08:00] they, a young woman looks up to them. Then they’re mentoring them.

Rob: They’re showing them their experiences. They are, as you say, the man. Whereas at home, when you’ve been living with someone 20 years, you’re just the person who puts out the rubbish. The kids don’t respect you. It’s not they don’t see you in the same light because you’re being domesticated. And and so often men will leave for that respect which ends up often it’s a month, two months, and they end up regretting it.

Rob: There is some controversial research, but it, I think it does hold true that women want love over respect and men want respect over love. I’ve heard a lot of women say that their partner is just, It’s just crying over everything, so I think sometimes men don’t understand vulnerability in that they think being vulnerable means, okay, I just unload all my problems and they should accept me because I’m being vulnerable, whereas vulnerability is, okay, this is what I’m dealing with, I’m sharing what I’m dealing with, but it doesn’t take away the fact that I’m in the [00:09:00] fight, that I’m doing what I can.

Rob: So I think there is been so much that we’re pushing men to change. And I think men haven’t really understood that. Men often are looking, what do I have to do? 

Rob: Tell me what I have to do. Tell me what I have to say. So this was the thing in the men’s meeting. No, when they were there and there was a woman there, they were like, What’s the answer?

Rob: What’s the answer? What? How do I say this? And they would even ask that question. They go, someone said this to me. What do I say? And they’re just, what do you believe? What do you think? And so I think that we’ve grown up, men of our age have grown up in a world where it was vastly different.

Rob: But I think there is a huge amount of shame in being wrong. So when I look at communication, women are generally more manipulative. And I think it’s because the frame of patriarchy has told men, you have to be right. You, when it goes back, the man was the head of the household and if he’s a wife and his children didn’t follow [00:10:00] him, then he wasn’t a real man.

Rob: And so what happens is that puts an enormous pressure on men to be right. What it also does is it means that women have to be very manipulative and they can’t directly challenge, but they can try and lead a man and so they don’t say things directly. And I think one of the problems we have in communication is that.

Rob: Women are afraid to say things directly and men are afraid to show anything other than anger or like being grumpy. Like a lot of people complain that the man is grumpy and it’s because grumpy and angry, you can show emotions, but the rest of the emotions have always been not manly. Yeah, I think there’s a lot of things.

Rob: I think a lot of men are struggling to cope with the change. It changes in society. Don’t know if that really answers, cause I haven’t really grasped the frame of the problem, but maybe that will give something more. I 

Clark: think Rob the issue probably is that nobody really knows what the problem [00:11:00] actually is.

Clark: I’ve looked over the last couple of days since I started looking at this. A lot of people recognize that there’s a problem and having worked in manufacturing specifically around problem solving, I’ve gone into the subject with a view to defining the problem, finding out why it’s a problem, who it’s a problem for, in what way it presents as a problem, and there’s nothing.

Clark: There’s nothing. You’ve literally just said that men are being challenged for crying all the time when it seems that they’ve been asked to be vulnerable. Clearly, that’s not the sort of vulnerable that they want. They want a different sort of. And I find myself asking when I work with the clients, one on one, this subject always comes up.

Clark: I don’t feel I’m insert word enough, man enough, respected enough, assertive enough, or whatever it is. And the question I always ask is, who’s telling you this, where are you getting this from this feeling, this information, and you’ve just said that men are being pushed to change.

Clark: I’m really interested to find out what pressures men feel, because [00:12:00] surely the goal of all people, men and women, is to be self actualized, to be fulfilled and complete as their own person, not relying on other people’s validation or approval. So if we’re listening to other people telling us how we should be, the question arises how do you know how I should be?

Clark: Can we say that all men need to be a certain way? Because we certainly wouldn’t be able to say that all women need to be a certain way. You’d get thrown out the window. 

Rob: I Yeah, I think I have something to that is that.

Rob: Men have been pushed because relationships don’t work for women anymore. Until the 50s, 60s, women were tied into a relationship and marriage was an economic unit since then. And this has a parallel in corporate as well, is that. So women wanted more. So women started divorcing men in droves.

Rob: I think what women really want and what men aren’t doing is engaging. Men are saying, what do I need to do? And women are saying, I need you to engage with me. I need you to be on it with me. And men are going yeah but what’s the answer? So [00:13:00] I think it, and I think in corporate people are, when you have the great resignation and quiet quitting and all of that stuff, I think people are increasingly leaving because they’re in a relationship where it’s a relationship of power.

Rob: So I think women want them to engage with them and they want a partner. I equally think women are confused about what they want. Because what they say they want. And then I think generally the issue is we have a broken model for relationships. When you look at how people talk about relationships, it’s still the fairy tale.

Rob: It’s magic. It’s like the chemistry and it’s but we haven’t defined it. And I think people don’t have a frame. They’re working from a frame that doesn’t work. If I 

Tony: think about it as, if you think about the work you do in business, Clark, and some of the work that I do and perhaps yourself, Rob, the companies invest thousands to help people improve their communication to help the team dynamic. And I don’t think when those people go home, they necessarily apply the same principles and methods [00:14:00] to the biggest relationship that they have. So when I think about who’s telling them that when you said who, who’s actually telling them this, that they’re not X enough, whatever it might be.

Tony: I think the world’s telling everybody that I think The modern world social media, even mainstream media, are just bombarding people with images and references to nobody’s actually good enough unless you’re high stakes, look at these fantastic people over here versus you miserable lot.

Tony: So I think out of that it’s how do we help people take responsibility for being who they want to be and need to be in order to sustain that relationship and to, it’s to help them navigate those, what are really difficult conversations. If we’ve got two independent people with very different biologies and very different outlooks on the world, who’ve come together in a relationship, probably at an age where they haven’t fully matured necessarily, just plucking some ideas out of the sky here.

Tony: If they just continue down that path and don’t [00:15:00] take the time to grow and mature into this evolving thing, it seems natural to me that it’s gonna just naturally deteriorate over time without the effort to understand, without the effort to appreciate, without the effort to, all the stuff about gratitude and things like that.

Tony: They’re the types of conversations that perhaps need to be had more often and aren’t had in lots of cases. I just think there’s a, there’s such a contrast between my experience in the workplace of what the type of work I do, the types of conversations I have with people versus this conversation we’re having today, which is exposed like your experience, Clark, is exposed absolutely just in that local domain that you’re in.

Tony: You’ve seen this. Increasing isolation. People that they don’t know how to forge this thing back together, or they don’t even know why it’s got to where it has in the first place. 

Clark: I, I think as well, Tony the reason I see it is because I’m looking for it because of the type of work [00:16:00] that I do.

Clark: I had, one of my most recent clients was referred to me by a woman not their partner, but a colleague. Who said, I want you to meet this guy, I’ve not told him that you’re going to pitch him or anything like that because it’s not the way I work anyway. But I want you to just meet him and see what happens because I really think this guy needs to have a chat with you.

Clark: And I got talking to this guy and Rob, I think you nailed it there in an oblique sort of way anyway. When you said that the men sit there and say, what do I do? What do I do? because our parents generation knew what to do, even if it was the wrong thing, and it often was the wrong thing. You would go down to the pub with your dad and the things that they would talk about and the attitudes that they espoused were completely conducive to a happy family.

Clark: However, to them, they were right. I’m the man, et cetera. Thankfully that’s changing, but having pulled the rug out from underneath a lot of men. There’s no solid ground for a lot of them to stand on now, and they lack certainty, it seems to me, this is the image that I’m getting so that when you talk about what the [00:17:00] crux of the situation is, Rob, I’ve got a feeling, when I spoke to this guy, when I was referred to this guy, and I spoke to him, and we were just chatting, and he said, I really appreciate it.

Clark: His dad had died and there were some issues around trauma and that sort of thing, but basically it was, I have this feeling that I’m not enough, I’m not man enough, I’m not assertive enough, I’m not strong enough, et cetera, et cetera, and we had a bit of a conversation and we ended up working together, and he was a lovely man, but it, that was a very clear, crystallized View of a lot of the conversations that I’m having where guys I’ve been told as you said, Tony, by the world, the old way is no good anymore.

Clark: We have to adapt to, to, to a new way. But what is the new way? Tell me. Yeah, tell me. That’s what they’re saying, right? We look what’s the answer 

Tony: I was gonna say Clark. So on that basis, then let’s use that as a model. What is the benchmark then? So let’s say somebody comes to you and says.

Tony: I’ve got these feelings of not being good enough, whatever it might be strong enough, assertive enough, et cetera. So what is the benchmark then? And obviously it’s going to be different for everybody. Maybe there’s a real gap [00:18:00] there and there’s training to be had. So actually, yeah, you could be more assertive.

Tony: Yes, you could be you could take more of a stand in these situations, whatever it might be. 

Clark: And maybe not, I don’t. The thing is, Tony before I ever even got involved in this side of things, when I was working in manufacturing, one of the things I used to do in training was talk about, from a business point of view, it’s no good saying, we have mission statements and strategy and Hoshinkanri and all this stuff that organizations put together.

Clark: And I always used to say, look, there’s no point saying where you want to go if you don’t know where you’re starting from. If you’re standing in the middle of a map, and you say we’re going that way are you facing in the right direction? And one of the things I say now, talking to these guys, is You need to know where you’re starting from before you can do anything.

Clark: And I think this is probably one of the reasons I really started pushing to get into writing, because talking to one guy is hugely rewarding, obviously, but it’s also frustrating when you see these guys sleeping in their vans and stuff, and you think that this is almost an epidemic. I don’t want to be melodramatic about it, but it seems to me.

Clark: There’s a [00:19:00] vast gulf now between what guys think is expected of them and how they are actually expected to behave in the modern world. And I started, my, my coaching course is 36 sessions, separate sessions that involve things like how you relate to your family, how you deal with being resilient how you handle money, all sorts of things.

Clark: But it starts with two questions. What’s real? What do you know to be true as a map? And then the second question is, how do you know, how do you know that? And if you know those, then you’ll be amazed at how few people can answer those questions. Because once they can answer those questions, a lot of the stuff that gets said to them, or you’re not X enough, they just say, no, I am, thanks.

Clark: And it changes it. I 

Tony: mean, I love the the map reference. The platform that I’m building, just by the way, it’s called Team GPS. It’s all about if we’re going somewhere, where are we now? What is the start point? If you switch your GPS on, it always starts from home and then you decide what the best route is to get where you want to go.

Tony: And it might change if there’s a roadblock, [00:20:00] you might have to deviate, you’d take the next best fastest route. So I really resonate with that. And it’s the same for individuals as it is for, those two questions that you asked is all about just increasing self awareness in an instant and helping them understand actually.

Tony: I don’t know the answer to these questions. What a great place to start a conversation. 

Clark: You, you, I think you just nailed it, actually that idea that what’s the benchmark? It’s just stuck in my brain that most guys don’t know what the, 100 years ago, people were either political or religious, or they looked up to some sort of local mentor or something.

Clark: Nowadays, there are no, who have we got? We’ve got that, what’s his name, Tate fellow, Andrew Tate. Yeah. And that’s it. And if that’s all we’ve got, we’re in trouble. And, there also used to be years ago the YMCA the Young Men’s Christian Association, and things like the AA and so on, which were all revolved around offering people, not just men, but people a standard by which they could set themselves.

Clark: In all problem solving in [00:21:00] manufacturing, the question is, what do you think the problem is? And then what’s the standard? What is the standard that you’re trying to achieve in the process for getting to it? And are you following the process? And if you are following the process and not achieving the standard, is the standard too high?

Clark: And so on. Actually the key is what you’ve just said. What’s the, in my mind, when you say what’s the benchmark, it’s, yeah, what’s the standard? I don’t know why I’d even forgotten that, actually. You’ve just made me think of something that I’ve known for 20 years. I 

Rob: think I think it is about a map.

Rob: I think men are lost. I think the map has been taken away. So I, one of my past things was emotional GPS and then I had relationship GPS and now Tony, you’ve stolen team GPS before I got there. 

Rob: But, I think it is a map and I think, so when I look at people need three things, so they need to belong and they need to provide value and they need meaning and I think what women are looking for is the meaning piece.

Rob: I think they are looking, I think traditionally men have had the direction and they’ve led. And I think a lot of women are looking to go on a [00:22:00] journey and then looking to go on a journey with someone. I think the value piece is that they’re looking for someone to emotionally engage with them. And I think a lot of men, like you say, are so lost that they’re not engaging.

Rob: They’re not really engaging. I don’t know. Maybe it doesn’t come naturally to men that I think there’s a distinction like I’ve seen anthropologists talk about the men will go off and they’ll hunt and because they’re on the hunt they have to be quiet so they don’t talk. So men are used to being spending long periods of time not talking, they’re just focused on what they’re doing.

Rob: Whereas the women would go out hunting and gathering and it’s a very social occasion where they’ll all be interacting all the time. So I think there’s a, mismatch in styles, but also I think there’s something I have in relationships and I think the interactions create the climate and the three killers of relationship are blaming, gaming and shaming.

Rob: And so we talked about the shame. And I [00:23:00] think what, when someone feels shame, it shuts down communication. And then because it shuts down, the more someone pokes at them. The more they shut down and so I think that might be some of it. But I definitely think, I think it does, a lot of it does come back to, like you say Joseph Campbell and rites of passage and the aligning of the spiritual with the science.

Rob: And having a narrative that brings some clarity and some guidance because when you look at the popularity of Andrew Tate and Jordan Peterson’s another one and they have millions of devout followers because they give a narrative to a lot of young men. 

Tony: Very different characters though. One I would say is way more ethical than the other.

Tony: Yeah. 

Tony: For me, I’ve studied the sort of personality for the last four years deeply and trait neuroticism is higher in women than it is in men and you would expect it to be so they’ve got heightened sensitivity towards danger because they’re wired to look after children and protect families and so forth.

Tony: Now if [00:24:00] their partner has lost status, has lost that sense of being the man who they first came together, the chance of that sensitivity increasing is significant. The chance of me feeling if I’m a partner, afraid that he can no longer protect us. It’s just, it’s an unconscious thing.

Tony: Now, if that’s, there’s no awareness of that. it can just start to deteriorate because no one’s talking about it. So I think that when we’re looking for the benchmarks for for how men can be those questions that Clark’s asking up front are really strong because we need to be, we need to be in the scheme of things.

Tony: We are human beings, we are biological beings and all of the stuff that gets pumped at us, we start to become self conscious about because we don’t understand it. We’re just told that you need to be more vulnerable. I don’t know what that means. So I’m going to start crying at home every day.

Tony: That’s not working for your partner anymore because she doesn’t feel protected. She doesn’t feel safe. And these are [00:25:00] broad brush strokes, of course, but there’s a bit, there’s a fair bit of biology going on, and it needs interventions from people such as Clark to help people actually recognize where these maps are, where these start points are.

Tony: Because it may well be that actually I do need to bring some of my previously stated sense of self back into this arrangement. If I’ve lost my identity, if I’ve lost who I was. So let’s say you lose your job and suddenly you don’t feel worthy anymore. You don’t feel good enough anymore because of something external that happened to you.

Tony: And that starts to play out in all sorts of unhealthy ways. Then the reality is at that point, yeah, you might need a bit, you might need support. You might need understanding on all of those things. Of course you do. But it doesn’t take away from the fact that your partner still needs, The guy you were before.

Tony: So the sooner we can take responsibility for getting back on track And if it was ambition that drove us, get that ambition back, get that drive back, get that will to [00:26:00] succeed back, whatever it might have been then you give yourself a chance. If you allow circumstances to dictate, then I think it’s problematic because people naturally, they’re feeling stuff as well.

Tony: They’re experiencing emotions around all of these things, and they’re experiencing a sense of loss. This is who I married. I feel like I’ve lost the person that I married. There’s a sort of semi grieving process going on, perhaps. And it’s very complicated, this stuff we’re talking about, but.

Clark: I think, Tony, there’s a bit of a paradox going on, actually because it seems to me I wrote a post yesterday. It probably doesn’t look when you, like it when you read the post, but it was, Directly dealing with this particular question because sometimes the things that you think you want are not the things that you want or need.

Clark: And it, I get the impression that some of the things that men are being asked to do in trying to do them, they are becoming less than they actually are needed to be. And I remember this goes back 10 years, my wife, and my wife’s quite a strong personality as [00:27:00] well. But we had a little bit of a disagreement and she told me afterwards because she was complaining to her friend how I will not compromise, it’s this, that’s it, and her friend said, you can’t marry a man because he’s strong and then complain that he’s strong. It’s really stuck with me because I thought, Sometimes the things that we think we’re unhappy about are not actually the thing that we’re unhappy about.

Clark: And the post yesterday was talking about, Alan Watts proposed this idea years ago called the backwards law, which basically said that you can have anything you want, as long as you don’t want it. If you chase happiness, by definition, you’re admitting that you don’t have happiness. So it’s actually self defeating.

Clark: And when somebody says to you, Oh, you’re not enough. And you say what should I do? You’re literally saying you’re right. I’m not in instead of saying no fine. Thanks You sort yourself out. Now, clearly that does require, as you said, a standard by which you can compare yourself, because otherwise, when you say I’m fine how do you know?

Clark: I know because that’s the [00:28:00] standard and I’m this far away from it, and yesterday I was further. By virtue of men saying, and I think that’s a really great point actually by virtue of men saying what do we do? They’re saying, we don’t know. Yeah. Yeah. And as soon as you say that, anybody listening will say you’re weak.

Clark: You don’t even know what you’re supposed to be. How can you protect us? We’re done. We’re doomed. And straight away, there’s this vicious cycle going on. I saw a comedian a long time ago, It was just a guy comedian, and he said, I’m as straight as they come, he said, but I was in this training thing where the firefighters, I was asked to volunteer for training and these firefighters were supposed to rescue us, he said, and this guy come bursting through the window, grabbed me and said, I’ve got you, you’re fine, he says, and I fell in love with this guy, he said, because he was there to save me.

Clark: And I thought that’s so interesting because when you meet somebody who says no, I’ve got this. We’re cool. Straight away. We know from a business environment. That you feel, oh, we’re good, we’re safe. Your children always look to you. And if you look like you know what you’re doing, [00:29:00] everybody’s fine.

Clark: But the minute you say what do I do? People just start panicking because if you don’t know we’re done. Yeah. That’s what we’re missing. 

Tony: I’ve gone from having a stable employment to being entrepreneurial, self employed in this performance space. And with that comes, a level of uncertainty.

Tony: So I’ve experienced, as we sit here having a conversation, I’m living that experience. It’s not feast or famine by any means, but it’s that heightened sense of insecurity that comes with not having a full time contract and that stable check coming in every week.

Tony: So I’m acutely aware of the, And because I suppose I’m attuned to how that plays out I’m aware of the dynamics that can start to play. So of course I go research, I go and study, I go and try and understand it. It’s it’s fascinating.

Rob: I think it’s, there’s a lot of things that come to mind while you’ve been talking. And one of them is how do we define status? And I think When you’re looking at like you, you get these young lads that are pictured with their Ferrari and they’ve rented it or they found someone [00:30:00] else’s and pretending it’s theirs.

Rob: I think a lot of status when we get into a relationship can be based on presenting a fake image. Women will often say that, they go on dates and men are just bragging about what they’ve done and what they’re trying to do is say here’s my value. Appreciate me and try to impress.

Rob: And so often people can present an image and then there’s a frustration when they don’t live up to that image. Then I think there’s a natural dynamic that we have. This image and the excitement people have at the beginning of a relationship is because finally they think someone is going to fulfill their dream and there’s a natural delusion that sooner or later we have to face up to, and actually there’s some research that happy couples are more deluded in that they have a more positive view that isn’t based on truth, but they just take that positive view. So I think that can be part of it, that, that. delusion, but I also think socially, what provides status to a man? Cause we look at, when you look at in the [00:31:00] workplace, women, when you look at project Aristotle, it’s like teams are better because a woman is on them.

Rob: The women’s role in the workplace is risen up and men that don’t have that emotionally intelligent, the characteristics that we need in a changing workplace are often losing their status. And when you look at all the blue collar jobs that were traditionally male roles, so many of them have been wiped out that there’s a real challenge for men that aren’t, aren’t fit for the new working place who got their status from what they did rather from who they were are now being challenged in a way. When you look at Instagram it’s hard for a man to compete. So when you look at dating dynamics, women are like three times, five times more likely to get, if they send a message, they’re more likely to get a response. The rejection rate for a man on a dating site is off the roof, like women have an unrealistic expectation that they go for 1 percent of men. So they want someone who’s six foot plus, [00:32:00] they want someone of high IQ, high earning all of these things. But women don’t realize that, I don’t know, what is it like 15 percent of men are six foot or over something like that. But they wean it down, like above average heights, above average looks. They think it’s okay they must be, that must be like 50 percent of the men. No, it’s 1%. And so they set themselves up for failure. Yeah, I think the real question is when we see, look at dating is unfair.

Rob: Instagram is unfair. An attractive woman will get more likes and whatever than a man. So where does a man get status today? I think that is, a question that we need to have. 

Clark: That’s a really interesting question because I’m constantly getting DMS and I love to receive them.

Clark: Actually, I get two types of DM. I get a lot of DMS saying that you’re too direct and too, you swear too much. And I just tend to sling the hook. I also get a lot from various places. Speaking regularly to somebody in Morocco at the moment and I’m happy to do it [00:33:00] because these, and it’s all men asking exactly that question, also, what do I do?

Clark: How do I do this? And the interesting thing about men is, as you said, Rob, at the beginning, what do we do? They just want to know, what do I say? How do I say it? What do I say first? Should I do this? What should I wear? What aftershave? And it, and I keep saying, it’s nothing to do with that. I had a conversation yesterday with somebody, actually, who said that he’s in the process of trying to improve himself, he realizes the need to do that, and so on and he’s got this flat, and he’s going to the gym, and he’s doing this thing, and he’s driving this car, and he’s saying that, and I said, but why do you think they’re important, clearly, as you just said, status is measured differently for different people.

Clark: And I said, the interesting thing, again, going back to Alan Watts Backward Law, all of those things that you think will make you interesting actually push people away because you’re telling everybody that all my value is in stuff. And going back to the Stoics, and I would say probably about a third of all of my coaching sessions revolve around some sort of Stoic influence, [00:34:00] principle, such as apatheia for instance, this detached interest in what’s going on around you and not being tied to the outcome of any particular situation, all of those things. And I said to this guy look, start trying to think of the values that you can incorporate into yourself as a person that will make you happy because you’re a better person.

Clark: Forget what everybody else thinks because by forgetting what they think, they will think more. It’s that paradox again. Yeah. But if you can chase values such as humility and modesty and, showing respect and responsibility and honor and duty, all of those things, that will make you the sort of person that people will want to talk to.

Clark: Forget what you look like. And that seems to be the message that I’m trying to say to people at the moment because it is a little bit counterintuitive because really all these guys want to get themselves a girlfriend or fix the relationship with their partner. And by chasing that problem and saying to the women, what do we do?

Clark: What do we do? The women are saying the fact that [00:35:00] you’re asking me makes me want to run away. Whereas if the guy said, look, I’ve got this. And then of course, society benefits because a whole half of society is perfectly aware of their place and their role in society and is good with it and says, yeah, to a certain extent, as males, we are expendable.

Clark: That’s a complaint that a lot of guys say, we all get sent off to war. We get all the soft jobs. Yes, because you’re bigger. And you can do that stuff. It’s obvious. Why would we send all the women to war, cases, however, there are rewards for that as well, for society rewards, courage and boldness and initiative.

Clark: But you need to have those things first. And probably the sense of certainty that the guys 100 years ago had. Is now lacking because the things that they were sure of are not revered anymore. They’re not held in esteem. So we need to look at the things that are and are timeless. And when you look at people like the Stoics, Marcus Aurelius, when they talk about [00:36:00] things like resilience and grit, you know, you can tell when a guy’s got grit.

Clark: And if we can tell it, women can tell it an hour before, they can smell it a mile off it. It does amaze me, actually, of the women that I’ve spoken to, how easily they can sniff out weakness. It is a, it is some sort of biological imperative that, that definitely virgin on black magic.

Clark: That they can tell if you are not sincere. if you’re just after stuff or physical goals. And it’s good that they’re like that. You just say in Rob that they want men over six foot. You can’t blame them. It’s obvious, isn’t it?

Clark: It’s a biological initiative to improve the human race. What men need to do is then step up their game and say, yeah, okay, I’ve got this. And what worries me, these guys sleeping in vans and stuff have basically just opted out. That’s. That’s my concern. Definitely. Definitely. I can’t do this on it.

Tony: Yeah. And they need help. They need help to be re engaged and re purposed. Yeah, but 

Clark: the biggest demonstration of men opting out is when they opt out [00:37:00] permanently, kill themselves. And, it’s not I had a friend a few years ago now whose husband sadly killed himself. She was so angry.

Clark: She said, it’s such a cowardly, I said, it’s not cowardly. He was incorrect. He was wrong in the conclusion that this was his only option. It’s not cowardly. But at the time, that’s all he felt he could do, and I consider it to be a very brave thing to do, I couldn’t do it, I honestly couldn’t do it.

Clark: But the fact that he did that, and these guys are saying, this is my ultimate sacrifice, that’s me, I’m done. And it just worries the living daylights out of me, because they seem to be getting younger. 

Rob: What comes to mind is, I, when I think back to the men’s groups, I think what men lack aside from a status is belonging.

Rob: When I would talk to these men, often they would say, Actually, really, all I want is a friend. I have friends, I go to football with my friends, but all they do is football. I play tennis with my friends, but all they do is play tennis. I go to the pub with my friends, but all they do is drink.

Rob: And I think there is one of [00:38:00] the problems that we all have that men have is they don’t have the same kind of connection that women do. They don’t have the same kind of relationships. They don’t open up and talk about things. Whereas almost every woman has friends that they moan to.

Rob: They have people who are there for them, whatever. And I don’t think men have that. And I think they feel that they no longer have the place in the workplace. They no longer have that unconditional belonging in their families. And so I think That’s maybe a core reason why they’re struggling.

Rob: They don’t feel they belong. 

Clark: Yeah. Men and women have a different way of communicating with each other. And obviously we all have things that we can learn. But somebody said to me quite a few years ago now, when it was mentioned as part of the conversation than mentioned, talk more, open up more, and as you just said, Rob, a lot of men are just sitting home crying.

Clark: I know that’s hyperbole, it, it paints her. fairly grim picture. And this guy said, if you think about it, men historically have been, have protected the village from other [00:39:00] tribes. They’ve been involved in wars and so on. And so can you imagine if there’s 10, 50, 500 men all sitting in an encampment or in a trench waiting to, for the enemy.

Clark: And one of the guys starts opening up about his feelings. He said, They’d be running for the hills in minutes, he said, it cannot happen. You, he said, you cannot give in to your feelings in those situations. You’ve got to, this whole stiff upper lip thing, which has been ridiculed to a certain degree because it is, I think it’s been practiced inappropriately.

Clark: There are times when you need to talk to your children, for instance, and a stiff upper lip is not a good thing to have in those situations. At the same time, when you’re dealing with difficulties, you don’t want to be sitting crying on your wife’s shoulder. You need to be able to say to yourself, listen, we can deal with this.

Clark: I’m going to do this. And it’s even just, girding up the loins, as they used to say, once you adopted that attitude, it changes your entire outlook and your ability to engage with problems. So it’s clear that men have

Clark: to communicate [00:40:00] differently. Friends, I’ve got this problem, and the friends will say, Oh, tell us about it. When you go down to the pub and you say to your friends, I’ve got a problem, it’s the biggest laugh that the guys are going to get that evening. The first thing they’ll say is what did you do?

Clark: How did you mop it? It’s a completely different way of dealing with things. And men love that. It’s one thing to say that’s not a really good way of communicating. But when I look at the guys faces in factories, where there’s a little bit of self deprecating humor, or you take the mickey out of somebody somebody’s expense, that, that starts, you can see it starting to pull people together.

Clark: And rather than say, men shouldn’t be this way, I prefer to look at the way men actually communicate in real life from a pragmatic point of view and use that to their benefit. And when you talk about men’s groups, I know having been in the military, when, whenever I found myself in a tough spot, in my life.

Clark: And I go up to a guy and say, were you in the military? Yeah, I was in whatever. Something completely different to me. They may have been in the Grenadier Guards or in the tank regiment or whatever, but the fact that they were in it, and you say to them, I’ve got a problem, they’ll [00:41:00] help you.

Clark: It’s a weird thing. It’s a brotherhood. Now that does not exist. Clearly women have strong bonds strong networks and so on. But when a guy can walk up to a total stranger and say, listen, I need some help to bury this body. Nine times out of 10, they’ll do it. They’ll go and grab a shovel. And it’s a completely different attitude.

Clark: And I think if we can tap into that rather than criticizing it, it just is what it is. I don’t know why it exists why, biologically men are wired that way. But if we can tap into it and help men to feel like they belong. Three guys sleeping within 50 yards of each other, not one of them talking to each other.

Clark: What the hell is that all about? They could have all gone down the pub for a drink. And yet they’re all sitting on their own, locked away in their vans or their cars, suffering in silence. So you know they’re not happy. I thought you were gonna I thought it was the start of a story 

Tony: about spy, aspiring, no, come on.

Tony: That’s okay. And then you took me down this path, . Unbelievable. It’s so interesting. Of course, I think it’s important to recognize that we’re talking about broad groups here. We’re talking about men, women, for example, and everybody’s different, [00:42:00] right? An individual’s resilience factor is going to contribute to whether they come back with an optimistic frame of mind, or they start to crumble at the first hurdle sort of thing. So those things need to be understood, but they’re all part of where are you on the map. There’s, it’s exactly the same. It’s as individuals, we can As a group, there might be some things that are fairly common across most people, but then well, what’s actually happening for you because there’s this is what’s the status of not my status as an individual.

Tony: What’s the state of the relation as well as we’ve got trades, there’s also states, something bad’s just happened, something significant changed. All of those things can have a direct impact on. on how people are going with their relationships at any given time. But I think, just going back to, I think Rob you were talking about This fake status, whether it be a young guy pretending he’s got a flash car in order to attract the next best thing sort of thing is one thing.

Tony: But even couples when they’re in that one-upmanship type thing, we’ve gotta do better than the next door [00:43:00] neighbor. All of those kinds of things, it’s almost like a toxic positivity that masks a lot of underpinning maybe feelings of sadness and frustration, what is it that’s driving them to feel that they have to do that in order to feel accepted, and if belonging is a thing and it’s a, it’s that in order to belong to this particular group that we want to belong to, we need to actually match them on our income or match them on the size of the house we’ve got, then.

Tony: I think it’s on really shaky ground. So I think there’s something about, I’m an optimist, right? I’m delusionally optimistic at times, and that comes at a cost for me, and it probably comes at a cost for people around me who are not feeling it. The further I go down this path of what’s possible, the further away People start, suddenly there’s suddenly like ants in the distance.

Tony: You’re on your own. Yeah, you’re on your own. Yeah, so I’ve had to grow to be aware of that. And I have to surround myself with, my wife is not like that. She we, my reference at home, like I’m a kite. [00:44:00] I’m like, I’m off flying somewhere and she’s got hold of the string and she’s just keeping it grounded in a bit of reality. And if I take that into the workplace, same thing, surround myself with and I suppose it’s a great reference for having a good blend of people in a team. You need realists and pragmatists and you need creatives Aspirational so who can all come to get like together the sum of all of that gives you Maximum opportunity and maximum sort of efficiency to get things done But the reason I reference that is that it’s great to be optimistic Because it helps you with resilience in difficult situation.

Tony: I do bounce back quickly from setbacks It’s natural for me, but I know there are people that don’t Then if I’m going round going, Oh, we’ll be right guys, we’ll be okay. People around me are not okay. And I need to come and meet them where they’re at. So those guys in the cars, outside your place, it’s like They’re not okay.

Clark: As I mentioned, there’s a gym downstairs and once a week, there’s a football team that goes to [00:45:00] the gym. They’re a local youth team. Have a Portuguese name. So I’m guessing that they may be, we have a lot of Portuguese and Brazilian people in this area.

Clark: So there may be, from that community. But yesterday they were all stood outside very noisy. Just bragging. They’re all sort of 14, 15 and eventually I thought, I need to go down and see, and I went down and I said, lads, if I hadn’t have just walked past you on my way in from Greg’s with my coffee, I’d have thought there was a bunch of girls down here talking.

Clark: And it is a silly joke. But they all started laughing at each other. And what I found interesting about that was that. You can see that you just said that it takes all types and I’ve seen this time and again in groups of men, as Rob said, men behave differently when they’re in groups on their own, but they tend to look after each other.

Clark: And the guys down there, there were some smaller guys, there were some big guys. And I’ve seen it time and time again. I worked in a factory a few years ago and when I first got there, there was of all the supervisors and team leaders that were there, there was one guy who was [00:46:00] extremely flamboyant.

Clark: I didn’t know whether he was gay, but he was very flamboyant that way. Very effeminate. And I was really interested to see how he fitted into that dynamic. And so when we had the team meeting, I thought I’m just going to poke. And I just made a comment about this guy’s performance. And I thought I was going to get lynched.

Clark: These guys all close ranks and looked after him. And I just, I was so pleased because I thought we’ve got a really cohesive unit here then. There were all different sorts of people. But the fact that one guy was a little bit of an outlier, his behavior was a little bit different, they made no difference.

Clark: He was one of them, and they looked after each other. So as you’ve just said, there are optimists, there are pessimists, there are creative types, there are more dogmatic types. And the same with these guys down there yesterday. You could see that once an outsider comes in and pokes you with a stick, they all close ranks.

Clark: And that, to me, is the key. Whatever makes that happen, that’s the key. And it’s not about being vulnerable. It’s not about being authentic or opening up more, because a lot of it is not authentic. The way they talk to each other is just banter. But [00:47:00] clearly, whatever that is, needs to be tapped into. Because if you can get guys to be honest with each other, and say, look, we’ve got this issue, or you’re the issue or I’m the issue.

Clark: Let’s deal with it. Or I’m feeling down and they start to pull together. To me, that’s gotta be the answer. And it doesn’t need outside stand, the world or Instagram telling them how men should be. The guys should be answering those questions themselves. As you said, Tony, there’s a standard.

Clark: This is the standard that we all aspire to, but it’s a journey that we’re all taking. And, whether we’re, more creative or quiet or introvert or whatever. We’re all part of that team.

Rob: Agreed. I’m just thinking about that. When I’ve seen groups, like you, you spoke about the flamboyant guy. It’s the amount that they accept. I think when someone says when someone is authentic to who they truly are, we get a grasp on them and then we can accept it. And I think the core of the relationship issue is often people are looking for that authentic, who are you?

Rob: And when it doesn’t match up, like the guys are saying what do I have to say? And they’re looking [00:48:00] for the right words. There’s nothing to relate to because if you’re not yourself, you’re a projection. And I think a lot of frustration women have is they’re dealing with a projection of a man, so there’s that element.

Rob: Going back to what Tony was talking about, that we’re in a time of confusion. And I think our biology, like sitting around the campfire, it wouldn’t work to cry and open up. But that’s not the world that we live in anymore. And so there’s a mismatch between our biology and what’s happened, like the industrial revolution changed the way that we lived.

Rob: And so we broke down communities. And so that belonging piece has gone. So that we go to the tube we can have neighbors that we never see. We could go to work and never come into meaningful contact with anyone. And then I think also perhaps women are looking for a leader and I think men are often struggling now for direction. So it’s just some rambling thoughts. And then the other part that I’ve got down is that everything we’ve been told, most of the messages we’ve got are from people trying to sell us [00:49:00] stuff. So the media exists to sell advertising exists to sell us something and most marketing works from a basis of you’re not enough.

Rob: So I think culturally we’ve been getting these messages where like male attractiveness has always been that if you have the car, you’ll have this. If you have the aftershave, you will have this. So I think what men are. picking up is a lot of this message, which actually is it’s for someone else’s interest, but it’s confusing the matter.

Rob: And it’s probably the predominant message that they’re getting for a lot of them. 

Clark: Just thinking about that Rob, I, you’ve just made me think of something because I, Tony just touched on something, this idea of men being a very broad spectrum, of course it is, but and, I mentioned at the beginning of the conversation all of those headlines that, that talk about what’s wrong with men, toxic masculinity and all that sort of stuff.

Clark: I think it’s great that things have changed in recent years. The boundaries have become a little bit more blurred. And it reminds me of a conversation I had a while back where somebody asked me, what does it mean to be British? Now, I know [00:50:00] this is a different subject slightly, does it mean to be British?

Clark: If you consider yourself a British person, and you’re proud of living here, then you could probably consider yourself British and that can, you could be of Nigerian origin, you could be of Pakistani origin, you could be of Fijian, Australian, whatever. We are a race of many different nationalities going all the way back to the Romans, but it still means British.

Clark: And it reminded me of, there’s a place where I come to in Norwich. There’s a, I won’t name it but there’s a really nice cafe that’s got a little bit of a bohemian quality about it. I like going into, it’s a, it is a bit quirk. And there’s a person in there, we’ve not had the conversation, we’ve talked a lot, me and this person, but we’ve not had this particular conversation, so I won’t speak on their behalf, but it’s, I would say, having spoken to her, that she used to be a guy, young person, I don’t know, late 20s, and when we were talking initially, the first few interactions were a little bit, oh, because I look about us as old fashioned as square as it’s possible for a guy to look. So I would be considered to somebody [00:51:00] like that to be potentially problematic. And I just basically said, look I keep calling you for coffees and stuff, but I don’t know what to call you.

Clark: I don’t want to say mate, so I’ll be totally up front, and he said, call me Jenny. I went, brilliant, and I said, I’m guessing, I don’t know. I started making it a little bit lighter the situation. I said, I’m guessing you haven’t always been Jenny. And he said, no. He said, I was given a guy’s name by my parents.

Clark: He said, but some people just call me bloke in a dress. And we had a bit of a laugh about it. However, we’ve got to know each other. And this person’s history is far more complex than, any of us could probably guess if we were to just talk to them.

Clark: He considers himself a guy. He doesn’t identify according to our conversation as a woman, and I don’t pretend to understand all of the nuances about this sort of situation. But he considers himself a guy, so because of that, I consider him a guy. He calls himself Jenny, and he wears a dress.

Clark: But I like him, and we get on really well. Now, is he a man? Apparently, yeah. Is he going to have the same [00:52:00] concerns about manhood that I have? Almost certainly not. I don’t have to worry about what tights to wear, when the weather’s cold or what sort of dresses fits a guy.

Clark: I don’t worry about those things or blush or anything like that. But at the same time, he doesn’t have to worry about how I come across as a middle aged white man when I’m talking to people. So we’ve got our own issues. But we get on well because we can, we have a mutual respect, a mutual regard for each other based on the fact that we’ve just taken each other at face value.

Clark: And I think that’s the key for all men and women for that matter, but men as a group of people, you can be anything. One of the people I talk about in my coaching, the male icon is Tom Ford. And many of the people, I say I use him specifically because a lot of people say he’s gay.

Clark: Yeah. He’s, he is a man and the guy’s cool. And he’s got great fashion sense and he is a brilliant businessman. He takes all sorts of different people, but as long as we can see each other with an honest eye and we can accept each other with mutual regard, I think that’s the key.

Clark: And the problem that most guys have is that they do [00:53:00] accept each other. They just don’t accept themselves.

Tony: I think your reflection on values earlier is, I wouldn’t say it’s everything, but once that’s understood and people start living through those values, they may well find that actually they’re not with the right partner, because that was never where it was grounded in the first place. But once you start to do that, you start to attract.

Tony: You try, you start to attract the people who actually value you for who you really are. It’s just a natural thing. I ran a course last week in Saudi Arabia, about 30 people, mixed group, and it was a tech company. And just as the intros, nobody likes icebreaks and stuff like that, but using one of Thomas’s term, one word equity, they had to, cause I was trying to understand who they were, but what was their name?

Tony: What was their role? And what was their one word equity? I’ve explained what mine was and why it was important. And these people from a relatively large company didn’t really know each other either. So they were getting to understand what each other did, and they were in teams of six. But once they started to share their one word [00:54:00] equity that really mattered to them, the whole tone of the session changed.

Tony: There was an immediate increase in trust. There was an immediate increase in level of respect and care for each other, just because we actually knew a little bit more about them. And everything that came out was humility loyalty trust, all of these things that really matter to, everybody leading a good, ethical, healthy life.

Tony: Whatever we were doing, whatever roles they play, they bringing into this environment, these amazing qualities. And when you added all these individuals core values together. It’s wow the, anything’s possible here guys. So even in that small snapshot, you get instant feedback about the value of values.

Clark: Yeah. Regardless of your educational background your social status, your wealth or anything like that. And maybe nowadays, we talk about the difference between men and women and all that sort of stuff. I’ve seen over the years the military’s [00:55:00] changed enormously and so many more women have got involved in the military, and I think that’s such an amazing thing.

Clark: And, I know a lot of women that are far more manly than a lot of the men that I know and they’re happy being that and I think we probably need to, when people say, what’s wrong with men, the question should be, which men? Which men are we talking about? Surely not all the men. Are we talking about guys that dig roads in Nigeria?

Clark: Or are we talking about CEOs in America? Or are we talking about people that trawl for fish in the North Sea? Which sort of men? Because to say men or women is really a massive disservice to that broad swath of humanity. And, some of the situations that I’ve been, I worked at a factory in Coventry, there was, we had a team of about 15 people, there was one woman.

Clark: She was quite assertive, quite strong, some people thought that she may have been excessively masculine in her outlook. She was a brilliant worker, she was a lovely person, and she was almost the big sister to a lot of the people that worked there. Why should she be confined [00:56:00] to, you’re a woman, so you’ve got to act this way.

Clark: And, when we have that mutual regard, and we adhere to a certain set of values, looking at, and you can basically then say this is the standard that I aspire to, whatever that might be, I aspire to be more feminine, or I aspire to be more masculine, whatever. You choose, but then once you’ve decided that’s the benchmark that you want to work to, and you are now part of a group of people that are all aspiring to that.

Clark: Yeah, that’s a great 

Tony: reference. That’s a great reference, Clark. It takes me back to an organization I started working with a few years back now and I was working with some of their female leaders, some of the women who made it to the top table, and there was definitely a sense that There were prejudicial things at play, the dynamics were still there and there was a lack of maturity in that space and I could feel that pain around that, they were stereotyped as you can imagine, bossy and, all of those negative stereotypes that come with that old school thinking.

Tony: And of course we have to be better than that [00:57:00] today. They are just great leaders who’ve reached the same pinnacle as all the other guys that sit around the table. When companies espouse their mission and values and vision and allow those to be. stereotypical conversations to take place.

Tony: They’re not delivering on the promise that they made internally, let alone externally. So that’s where I really get my teeth stuck into that. I really get excited about that because I think that’s where you can make big leaps quite quickly and you start to empower. If it’s men, for example, who have got these stereotypical views, it’s not too hard to get them to reflect and reframe things, I think.

Clark: Yeah, and that’s just reminding me of this this meme, this trope that’s been going around about the women saying, would you rather meet a bear or a strange man in the woods? You know that one, right? Yeah. There’s been a lot of conversation about that. And basically the conversation Asks the question who’s going to keep women safe from men?

Clark: And the answer is, I’ve always thought, and as far as I’m aware, [00:58:00] all of my forefathers thought the same, that the only people that can keep women safe from men is other men. And I think that applies to everything. If a person subscribes to the the perspective of manhood, whether you are, consider yourself a man, or you’re a woman, subscribe to more masculine values.

Clark: Regardless the standards, the benchmark the men adhere to, allow them then to turn to certain types of guys, whether they’re driving around in the fast Ferraris, trying to be a cool dude, or whether they’re beating their missus up on a Saturday night, and say, look, that’s not how we do it.

Clark: That’s not being a man. That is not the standard, and we can hold them to account then. And, I’m sure women do the same when it comes to other women. There’s a certain type of behavior that’s expected, and they probably hold them to account, I’m guessing anyway, if somebody’s behavior falls outside of that expectation, because that’s how we keep society functioning smoothly. Yeah, the goalposts might move. The standards may change, but when they do change, they need to be [00:59:00] standards that everybody is to, and they need to revolve around certain values. And, you’re right, people that guy in the car there, maybe his missus doesn’t like him, I don’t know, but there will be somebody that likes him.

Clark: It’s not like he has to try and chase somebody else’s viewpoint of what he should be. If he subscribes for a certain set of values, there will be plenty of people that like him and he doesn’t need to worry about 

Tony: it. He likes himself for who he is then. It’s who are you? And then when you know who you are, then you can become who you want to become.

Tony: That’s the thing. But people going round, Being told that they’re not this and they’re not that. Your questions that you started with are the right ones. Who are you? Let’s work that out. And that, once that people land on that, you can almost see them fill the space differently. Like the aura’s changed, the energy’s shifted.

Clark: Yeah I’m glad I brought that those questions up at the beginning because it was something that was annoying me and, I don’t think we’ve spoken about anything new. We all know the things that we’ve spoken about, but it’s given me a little bit of a refreshed perspective because I was [01:00:00] starting to feel a little bit.

Clark: I’m pessimistic about the lot of men in general, but I think guys are smart enough to figure this out, I think, as long as there are resources available and conversations take place like this, eventually, men will adapt, they will adapt to the new landscape, they’ll reorientate themselves, and they’ll start moving forward on the basis of this is where we are now, which I find, Yeah.

Rob: When you were talking about, values exercise and things like that what comes to mind is, there’s always the Jung quote, until you make the unconscious conscious, you’ll always be controlled by it. And I think when I look back when you had like the Knights of old and you had the, they had a clear code of honor and I had clear values and what you’re talking about really is once we agreed society’s values and now I think in the new world, it’s that we have to define our own. And I think so many people are never [01:01:00] knowing what their values are and they’re looking for what they should be doing.

Rob: And I think, that we create the tribes, with shared values. And I, so I think for me that’s why I take away from this. 

Tony: Yeah. I think the pursuit of happiness is a fool’s errand. I think the social values that are pushed into the world are, for most people, the wrong values.

Tony: They’re not the right fit. They’re not the right fit for anyone. Without those underpinning without the villages and the tribes to hold you to account a little bit differently, then that’s all you’ve got to go on. It becomes easy to fall into the traps that have been set.

Tony: I think real purpose comes with maturity, you can’t expect young people necessarily to have it, but when you are in service to somebody else or something else, that’s when you really get a connection to who you can become. So you’ve got this set of values and then actually in living through these, in deciding that I’m going to live through these values in how I work, how I behave As a husband and a father and all of those [01:02:00] things as a friend.

Tony: Then for what purpose, and the next level is to say the purpose is , it’s in service to something. Since I’ve been thinking that way since, since my approaches, the work I did on myself before I started my business was all about how do I, why do I do what I do?

Tony: Why can I not be in football and feel okay about it. So it wasn’t football that was the pull. What else was it? It was identifying those things that, that actually drive me. What is it that I’m connected to? And like landing on the, I suppose the core driver or in service to helping other people achieve what they didn’t think was possible, helping people reach their potential.

Tony: It’s like that. So it didn’t matter then whether it was in football, I was in business, my purpose is to help other people. get where they want to go. Starts with the turn on the GPS. Where are you? Where are you today? And that’s really a values positioning yourself through a set of values. And then when you know the destination, whether it’s a worked outcome or a personal ambition or [01:03:00] whatever it might be, a goal.

Tony: It’s okay at least we know how we’re going to behave in pursuit of this. Let’s start to work out how we’re going to tackle it. 

Rob: People don’t like to think about relationships as in every relationship has a purpose. So there, there is something, even if it’s a romantic relationship, it’s to feel love is to fit, to become yourself or that kind of thing. But because there’s a narrative around that people don’t like to have that confronted. They want to feel it’s like unconditional love and all of these things, which people aren’t actually capable of.

Rob: But it’s the purpose of what unites a team for me. is the clarity of purpose is when we share that same purpose, that my individual goal is the same as my team, as the collective goal. That’s when we bonded as a team. And I think it’s the same for a couple that we unite for a reason, whether it’s to feel love to feel, to create this unit, to create children, to create our own independent unit.

Rob: But that clarity of purpose then [01:04:00] defines the standards of how we go about it. How do, what do we expect? These are the benchmarks. These are the standards below which the relationship no longer works. And this is how it’s going to be defined. But I think that is so key.

Rob: And I think one of the problems of relationships is we’ve never liked to have that conversation because we go, Oh, I just want to be loved. I just want to be loved. Yeah, but in what way? For what? 

Clark: I think you may have actually you may have touched on one of the underlying causes of this problem that we started talking about right back at the beginning, because there’s a probably a misunderstanding of how relationships work at a certain level for most of the people involved.

Clark: In that post that I did yesterday that talks about this idea that you can have what you want, As long as you don’t want to, you can’t chase happiness, because clearly, you’re admitting that you don’t have it. And at the very end, there was I quoted a guy called Thomas Merton, and he died in the 60s.

Clark: He was a priest, funnily enough, but he counseled on relationships, and I don’t mean romantic relationships, all [01:05:00] relationships, but he said something interesting. He said, love is not a matter of getting what you want. Quite the contrary, the insistence on having, on always having what you want, on always being satisfied.

Clark: And always being fulfilled makes love impossible. And the reason I put that at the end there is because a lot of people go into relationships for what they can get out of it. And Tony was just there talking about, it’s about serving. It’s about being in service to others. And it’s a mathematical impossibility for two people who go into a relationship to get what they can from it for that relationship to work because it’s not synergistic.

Clark: It’s, you’ve just got one and one, whereas if that one is trying to serve the needs of the other and vice versa, that one and one adds up to much more than two. Because they’re trying to get each other’s benefits out of the relationship. And when these guys are sleeping in their vans and their cars, There’s a gotta be a chunk of that is because they are not fulfilling the needs of the other person now who’s fault that is, I think is irrelevant, but somebody in that relationship is basically [01:06:00] saying, I want this and you’re not giving it me.

Clark: So we’re done or, words to that extent. And it needs to be very much more about, there’s a reason why tribal initiations in sort of ancient tribes and so on. We’re always carried out where the young person was left on their own, because one of the questions I ask in my coaching is, what do you do when you don’t know what to do?

Clark: You don’t know what to do, so what do you do? And they go, oh, that’s an impossible question to answer. Actually, it isn’t. When we talked about values, you refer to those values. I don’t know what to do. However, what’s needed in this particular situation is endurance, or grit, or honesty, or candor, or whatever.

Clark: How would that apply in that situation? And those young guys, when they were left out in the forest for days on end on their own, were left to, to dwell upon and try to learn about the values that the tribe espoused, whatever they might be. As long as they were everybody’s tribe values, they would always know what to do when they didn’t know what to do.

Clark: And in situations like relationships, when you don’t [01:07:00] know what to do, most people default to what do I want? What do I want? And why am I not getting it? And that, I think, you were saying that women are not happy. with relationships or marriage anymore, and they’re leaving in droves. I think part of the answer is in that.

Clark: Who are they serving them? 

Clark: Nah. 

Clark: Because, guys clearly are not pulling their weight, but I think there’s more to that question than people think it is. The fact that guys are not doing their bit, because if you were, and maybe the situation is that women have been trying to serve the men for years and years, and it’s just not sticking, and it’s not being reciprocated.

Clark: Maybe that’s the problem. But there’s clearly a problem with there not being any mutual service to each other, and that’s maybe something that needs to be addressed. 

Tony: Yeah, I agree with that. I say I just thought of something that, I’m gonna say it because I haven’t really fully thought it through, so I’m hoping it captures rounding out the conversation for me.

Tony: I think we’re two things. We’re who we say we are, and we’re. also who people think we are. When those things match up, then [01:08:00] happy days, we’ve got it. We’ve nailed it. This is who I am, and this is who the world sees. That marries up. This is who I say I am. The world sees that. Marries up.

Tony: Brilliant. Okay. We’re up. We’re on a winner. So without having identified what my core values are and knowing how to live through them, I’m making it up as I go along. And I have to rely on what the world is telling me to work out what my identity is. And the world’s telling me I’m not good enough. My wife’s telling me I’m not good enough, whatever it might be.

Tony: I’m not strong enough. I’m not assertive enough. So that’s all I’ve got to go on. So I’ve got this now I’ve got this mismatch of the world’s telling me all this stuff. That’s not great. I haven’t really worked out who I am, but I’m faking it as I go along. And what do I do? What do I say? All of those things that came up earlier, that those, what should I do in this situation?

Tony: How do I respond to this? It’s like All right let’s grow up now. Time to put a peg in the ground and let’s do this little bit of work so that you’re really comfortable about how you’re going to go forward and see what happens. 

Clark: There’s a thought then, [01:09:00] Tony, if somebody’s telling you’re not doing X, Y and Z for me, you can do one of two things.

Clark: You can either try and do X, Y and Z, All right. And you can guarantee there’ll be a P, Q, R, and S as well coming afterwards when you manage to, to fulfill those criteria, or you can work on yourself and, you can say, I entered into this relationship saying that I was this. I’m going to just do that as well as I possibly can, and then you’ve now got to do your part.

Clark: And on that thought, I saw on Instagram, I just come across this thing the other day on Instagram, and it was a guy that these guys that just go and stop random people and take photographs of them and then the photographs are amazing, and you think, wow, that person looks pretty ugly, and until, and then you see the photograph, you think, wow, he’s done an amazing job, etc.

Clark: But he stopped this guy in a wheelchair, and it was in Belfast, apparently the photographer said this is the best thing that’s ever happened to me in my job, he said. I took the boat to Belfast, I was going to go down to Dublin, and for some reason I decided to just stay in Belfast city centre, and I just started stopping people and photographing them, and he stopped this one guy, who [01:10:00] was a coach, but he’s in a wheelchair.

Clark: He said, I had an accident I can’t remember, a few years before, broke several, and bearing in mind that I broke my spine in the motorbike accident, I was glued to this guy’s conversation, he said, I broke my L, L3 and 4 or something, he broke two or three vertebrae, he said, I’m now in a wheelchair, and he said, I suddenly realized I’m not enough , he said I’m invisible. He said, I went from being this big guy walking around. To being in a wheelchair and nobody sees me. He said, even when I go into Starbucks with my friends, the people behind the counter will say, what does he want? And he’s I’m flipping here, I’m not invisible.

Clark: He said, but it’s taught me some incredible lessons about what people say they want for humanity. We want love and peace and kindness. He said, and what they actually do, he said, a different thing altogether. And then he said something, and the guy, the photographer, was blown away by this. And there were thousands of comments, because it was just so profound.

Clark: He said, I’ve had to write it down so I could say it properly. I am not who you say I [01:11:00] am. You are who you say I am. And I just thought, Oh, that is great. That’s amazing, isn’t it? I’m not who you say I am. You are. I am a projection. The things that you see in me that you don’t like are a projection of what in you.

Clark: Nice. And that, for me, Answers that entire question. If somebody says, you are not this, that, or the other. All I can think of is, wow, you really think you are not this, that, and the other. I feel sorry for you. How can I help you? It’s not about me, it’s about you. Interesting. Yeah. I’m gonna leave that there.

Clark: Yeah.

Clark: Brilliant. 

Clark: I just want to thank you guys for, I you lifted the cloud from over me. I wasn’t, I was mildly, I don’t get down, but I was mildly despondent at the beginning of this.

Clark: I thought, because I just, I didn’t like it, but especially when you see the suicide thing, and I just thought, oh my goodness, but actually, I think we’re all right. We’re gonna be okay. 

Tony: It’s great, isn’t it? We never know where these conversations are going to go, do we? So it certainly went to a place that I didn’t have any expectations, but Free therapy 

Clark: for me.

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