The Three P’s
So far, you have understood more of what Maniphesto is about and what you can expect here, you have started to formulate a clearer vision for your future, and you are on a Core Team. Now it’s time to start getting more concrete. This is where the rubber hits the road. Formulating a vision is probably the most difficult step in this process, but unless we actually put it into practice, then it will remain just a fluffy and beautiful idea with no existence in reality.
The purpose of this module is to take you from your vision, to formulating SMART objectives and goals you want to achieve in the next three months, and then from there, breaking it down to a daily habit or routine that will support you in reaching that goal.
There are so many things that we can do that could help make our lives better. But this is about figuring out what you are actually going to do.
As you’ve already seen, a question that we love here in Maniphesto is the focusing question: “What is the one thing which you could do, that by doing it, everything else becomes easier or unnecessary?”
As you move through this module, you can use that question as a way of focusing yourself. Cut out all the bright and shiny objects that distract you and focus on what actions are supporting you the most in moving towards your vision.
The Three P’s
In Core, we will be working with three focus areas for the goals you will set for yourself. These are:
These three areas are absolutely core to any human life. Creating clear direction and intention in each of them will dramatically improve every other area of your life.
You will notice that the three steps also have a natural progression: starting with yourself in Practice, then moving to those who are around you with People, and finally moving to the broader perspective of your role in communities, your work, and society with Purpose.
Practice – Your personal time to develop body, mind and spirit
Practice is all about your personal habits and regular activities where you are investing in yourself and your own alignment. They could be things you have done since you were a child, or a new activity you have chosen with the specific intention of sharpening and building yourself up. This is your “you” time, where you are consciously taking time out to refine your being and to develop yourself to become the kind of man who will achieve the vision that you have already formulated.
Personal practice covers activities from prayer and meditation, to reading philosophy and practicing your favourite sport. Most personal practices will use an entry point from one aspect of our being – physical, mental or spiritual. And they will also influence all three. If “spiritual” doesn’t make sense to you, then just replace it here with something like “the deeper, more profound meaning related aspects of the mental aspect”.
For example, martial arts is generally anchored in the physical realm but often has very explicit spiritual practices and philosophies. Reading good philosophy starts in the mind but can inspire and lift us up to higher levels of understanding, but does little good for our physical body. Prayer is usually seen as a spiritual activity, but certainly trains the mind and, for Orthodox Christians and Muslims, the body too. Meditation is, of course, a spiritual as well as intensely mental/contemplative and physical activity.
Moulding your being
It is important to realise that personal practice, and indeed anything else you regularly use time doing, forms and moulds all three aspects of ourselves. The more intentional you are about which aspects of yourself you are interested in building up, and which results you want to create, the more powerful a vision you can achieve.
So, if your most regular personal practice is binging Netflix or sitting and masturbating to pornography every day, then you should increase your awareness of how that is influencing your body, mind and spirit — and likely pulling you away from the vision that you said you want to attain. Playing football might give you great fitness and a feeling of belonging, as well as inspiring brotherhood, especially if you see very positive values held high in your local group. Your Youtube and Counterstrike habit might be inspiring, energising, and help you to create an identity for yourself, but your body could lack stimulation and your spirit starve from such a strong orientation towards the virtual world instead of reality.
We are, of course, interested in creating and developing a personal practice which nourishes all three aspects of yourself as much as possible. You get to decide what that is, and what balance of focus you want to engage on. Sports, journalling, prayer, meditation, breathwork and reading are all great examples of personal practices which balance these priorities. Anything done regularly with intention can be a personal practice.
People – Relationships with others
Meaning through relationship
The People aspect is about the relationships you are building in your life to support you, to create meaning, and to grow together. Long term, intimate relationships are perhaps the one aspect of life which most people will look back on with the greatest joy, as well as causing the greatest regrets.
Relating to other people is no easy thing. Each of us is born with a very persistent idea that we are the most important thing in the universe. Meeting other people, who are walking around with the same idea about themselves, leads to all kinds of misunderstandings and conflicts. Add to that how our upbringing, culture, values, and beliefs have formed our ways of seeing the world, and how radically different we perceive situations and decisions, and you have a situation where attaining the real depth of intimacy and connection with others we most deeply yearn for remains only possible in occasional, fleeting glimpses.
Relationship as Long Term Process
Becoming better at relating to other people is perhaps the most meaningful thing you can do with your life. And it needs to be continually practiced. The best — and the most challenging people to practice on — are those who have known you for the longest time. Obviously your parents and siblings are high up on that list. If you are married or have a long term partner, then that is certainly a top priority also. Making a good impression on new people you meet, or deepening existing friendships, are, of course, also useful skills in life.
The purpose of Core is not to drop your existing friends and relationships and to replace them with men from Maniphesto. At the same time, as you work with and integrate the tools and values here in your life, you may notice that there are relationships which are drawing you back and even working actively against you making progress. You will need to explain to those people why this is important for you. Your goal is to inspire and draw them with you. And we also find that at times we need to let go of some relationships.
At Maniphesto we share a strong belief that honest and authentic mirroring in long term relationships committed to mutual growth is a key to us becoming better men. You may be able to fairly easily convince all the men in here and even yourself for a while that you are now finally getting your life in order. But convincing your parents or a sibling requires a whole other level of hard work.
No matter who you are and what you have achieved, long term meaning in your life is less determined by the results you have achieved, the money you have made, or the car that you have bought. It is determined by the relationships that you have built.
This is an important point: relationships are not a result or a final state that you arrive at. More like a dance, relationships are a process. They need to be continuously maintained, attended to, and tweaked. They are dynamic and unpredictable. In Core we are learning the basic steps of the dance.
Purpose – What are you doing here?
It’s not about you
If Practice is all about yourself, People is about those around you, then your Purpose is about your contribution to the society you are living in. It is giving back to that which is greater than yourself. It requires knowing who you are, what you need in order to function well, what you stand for, and where you are going. It is perhaps the most difficult of the three aspects here, particularly if you have never worked explicitly with it before.
Perhaps a reason for that is because the idea of purpose breaks fundamentally with the narcissistic mindset in which permeates our society. Most of the time, we spend our lives chasing our own selfish needs and desires. There is nothing wrong with getting you needs met – indeed that is a basic prerequisite for helping others. But formulating your purpose requires a correct perspective on reality – Seeing clearly your rightful place, as a unique and contributing part of a much bigger whole.
A life driven by selfishness will often lead to either a people-pleaser, “Mr Nice Guy” mindset, or a “Macho man”, both covering a subtle sense of meaninglessness and emptiness. Both of these typically lead to issues such as anxiety, depression and dependencies such as screen addiction, porn and sex addiction, work addiction and alcohol and substance addiction. Many men talk of feeling like they are playing a role and hiding behind a mask with the constant fear that they will be discovered one day. Other men experience regular swings in direction and motivation levels on a rollercoaster of ego-driven ups and downs, unable to find their true calling.
Purpose as the Ultimate Reality Check
True deep purpose requires deadly honesty with yourself and others about the bigger picture and the value you are creating in the world. There is a constant temptation to pick up on the standard societal narrative of “virtue signalling” by copying particular phrases and opinions to convince others and yourself that you are one of the “good guys”. In a society focsed on superficial form before substance, this can often work well in the short term. But never works in the long term.
For a man in society today, there are no short cuts. A Purpose coming from a deep and honest knowledge of reality and self and a genuinely altruistic mindset will lead to a steady and calm sense of clarity and determination, as well as the discipline to maintain the course. There will be a natural understanding and relaxed attitude towards one’s abilities and limitations, firmness and patience towards those who do not understand your mission. There will be an absence of ego-driven grasping after power and status. The core focus in Purpose is serving that which you know is true and that which is larger than yourself.
Part of your Purpose could be oriented toward your family, such as “being the best possible father for your children” or “being the best man for my partner”. These are honourable Purposes, but we have found that most men need a higher primary purpose outside of their own family — especially if they want to remain attractive to their partner. Many women are simply not attracted to men who do not have a “mission” out in the world.
Making a real contribution to others is not easy to define, and even more difficult to attain. Most people want to do great things in the world, but few have the qualities needed to succeed. The world is incredibly complex, and with the information explosion and fragmentation of identity and community, it is becoming more complex, (not to mention the various ideologies and conspiracy theories with more or less solid foundations floating around).
Finding purpose often entails letting go of childish dreams and fantasies about yourself. It requires becoming deadly honest with yourself and what your actual talents and abilities are. Where is it that you can actually make a contribution? So often we use expectations or dreams of future greatness to avoid taking responsibility for the situation we are in right now. That is why you are now going to break your Vision down into concrete goals and steps that will be what will populate your work in Core.
The first steps towards your vision are often very simple and humbling ones — and certainly involve a lot more hard work, discipline, and failures than we originally expect. The most important part of this process is connecting your vision to your present reality and the actions you need to be taking right now to be completely sure that you are actually moving towards your vision and not just living in a boyhood fantasy.
Now you’ve got a clear idea of three P’s, it’s time to make a plan!