Evolving Men’s Collective - Make living joyfully your purpose
Teach What You Love
Network Capital was set up with the simple idea that everyone has something to learn and something to teach. It started off as a passion project, grew into a community for career advice and now serves as a platform for career intelligence, peer learning and skill sharing. What is interesting for us is that NC is considered as much a company as a movement where people from around the world come together to build, share and learn.
At the core of it, Network Capital is very much an example of passion economy in full swing. Teach What You Love is us productising this.
Ashmeet built a leading organic food business in India over a decade, until recently transitioning out of a full time role to honour how discontented his work made him feel, and to dedicate his time to his love for coaching and helping purpose driven leaders lead joyful, not just purposeful, lives. In his story that Ashmeet shares below, he talks about how his conditioning around masculinity contributed greatly to his misery, and how becoming aware of it led him to start creating a more fulfilling life.
I was lying in bed, and the alarm was ringing.
The alarm was my heart beating as if it would explode out of my chest.
This alarm had been ringing for a few years, but suddenly it was loud enough to wake me up.
The alarm was coming from a place that wanted a better life for me. That knew that I deserved better. That I deserved to be happy… to have a good time while being on this planet. It was my friend.
This was 2016. For a few years now, I had been extremely discontented with my life, despite what seemed like success on the outside. Work was extremely stressful and frustrating.
I was extremely passionate about what my company stood for, but I hated my work and felt trapped. I tried sharing this with some people, and they said things like “things will get better”, “your efforts will pay off” etc. etc. Hearing those things made it even worse for me, so I stopped talking to others about it. What I needed to hear was “it’s ok to feel this way”. The truth is that I didn’t believe it was “okay” to feel this myself, so even if someone else said it to me, it would not really have helped me.
This frustration also leaked into my personal relationships, and they were far from being fulfilling.
I trudged along for years, under the guise of “responsibility”, “impact”, and “not giving up”. My actions came from what I believed was the “right” thing to do, and yet I felt no hope. I continued to make myself more miserable and burnt out. I didn’t realise any of this at the time. I was operating on auto-pilot. The beliefs I held were in the driver’s seat. These were “my” beliefs but I had not chosen them - they had simply been conditioned into me through my experiences, family, friends, culture, and society at large.
Eventually, I had a few panic attacks. They seemed to come out of nowhere, but it was the discontent and hopelessness that had built over years. On the outside, I had a pretty perfect life. Yet, here I was, on the one hand feeling numb, and on the other, the alarm was blaring.
Life presented some teachers, coaches, and practices like self-enquiry, reflection, meditation, and gratitude. My self-awareness increased, and I was able to see life through a new lens. I saw how all my problems actually originated in my thinking, and despite what the situation was, or what others were doing or saying, I had far greater control over my well-being than I previously realised.
It didn't take me long to see that my conditioning around being a man was one of the things contributing to the discontent I was feeling - feeling the burden of expectations, the stress around success, not knowing what to do with feelings like anger, letting my worth be defined by my achievements, feeling the pressure to perform and please in romantic relationships.
Not that women don’t have similar experiences too. They absolutely do. But I’ve seen in myself and in the men I’ve worked with as a coach, that beneath the stress and discontent we feel there is often a subtle (but strong) undercurrent of being "man enough"... of proving that we are “good enough” and live up to the ideals associated with Masculinity. But guess what - all these ideals are now outdated! However, these are millenia-old, and to shed them and adopt ones that are authentic to us, we have to embark on our own journeys of self-awareness. I have experienced that doing this with a group of other men is extremely powerful and transformational.
Traditional ideals celebrate “strength” as an attribute of the masculine. What most men are taught, starting when they are boys, is that strength and manliness looks like this:
Don’t be sad.
Don’t be jealous.
Don’t be a sissy.
Don’t swing your hips when you walk.
Don’t sit with your legs crossed.
Don’t talk about your feelings.
Don’t discuss your problems.
Is it any surprise that the world has a crisis of Masculinity? In most countries, women are more likely to be diagnosed with depression and to attempt suicide, yet the rate of death by suicide for men is 3 to 4 times higher depending on which country’s data we look at, as reported by the BBC.
There are plenty of nice guys, in fact, I believe most men are nice - fewer are “toxic” (in other words, the most hurt). But even the nice guys are hurting. Even they don’t know what to do with difficult emotions, or how to take care of their needs. They feel an immense pressure of expectations, of doing the “right” thing.
A milestone in our development is realising that turning away from our emotions is actually weakness. We can’t really turn away from them anyway, we can try, but then they express themselves in ways that we can’t control or are not aware of - the heart beating to the pulse of anger, the suddenly raised voice, the desperation in the pit of our stomach when we enter our place of work (or home), or the freeze response that makes us numb.
My personal journey involved re-learning what I was encouraged to forget - listening to my emotions, shedding the conditioning of how I "should" be and what I "should" be doing, and becoming friends with how I am and what I want. My aspiration is to lead a life that is a true representation of me - MY values, MY gifts, MY passions.
This work can’t be done without connecting with our feelings, body, and intuition, and understanding how our minds work.
This course is to honour my wish to share what I have learnt, help other men understand and grow out of their conditioning, discover what kind of man they wish to show up in the world as, and take steps towards becoming that.
I hope that this program will bring more peace, purpose, and playfulness to your life.”