The earliest roots of Maniphesto started with a few friends meeting and exploring the question “What does it mean to be a man”. What made that develop into the strong international network it is today, which has changed the lives of thousands of men?
The vision of Maniphesto is of a collaborative brotherhood of men who are actively working to grow and develop our understanding of men, our role, and our abilities to meet the greatest challenges of our society.
Not every man who joined us had a clearly formulated vision to start with — in fact, the vast majority of men today lack vision and live instead in shortsightedness, stuck in the same old patterns that hold them back.
At Maniphesto we are convinced that in order to have any real impact on society, then each of us needs to be able to formulate a vision for our life. Unless you know where you want to go and are able to formulate it, then you have no control of where you are going — which means that someone else is deciding it for you.
Without vision, it is very unlikely that you will achieve anything significant with your life. You might have some fun experiences. You might even be lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time and get money, fame, and status. But you will likely lack the stability and direction to achieve anything truly meaningful and valuable.
Your personal vision
Your vision is a personal description of what you want the future to be like. We have found that most men benefit from formulating a vision for around three to five years from now. Further out and everything becomes too vague. Shorter than that and you cant really afford to dream. Pick the time horizon that suits your situation best, depending on how much stability and clarity you have at the moment.
Writing down your vision is scripting your future reality. Your direction will be based on your desires. You will need to be honest with yourself: what is it you really desire? And be also critical of yourself: is this really something that I want, or is it just an empty promise of happiness? You will find that aiming for meaning over happiness, and at least some measure of collective good over only selfish desires is beneficial.
No one can tell you what it should be, and you cannot copy from anyone else. For most of us, it is not easy to formulate. We feel pulled in different directions when we start trying to envisage a future for ourselves. We are run by different and often contradictory forces and impulses that are pulling us in different directions. Much of the time we are not even aware of how much we can be sabotaging our own lives and living out of integrity – not even able to uphold our own stated values and beliefs. This is at least in part because we have not taken the time to formulate and pursue a clear, personal, embodied vision.
Chances are good you are going to encoutner how difficult it is to make a commitment to your own future self. The future is unclear, and unpredictable. Things which we rely on can fail, and people we trust can betray us. There is a desperate need for men who can be a rock of stability and integrity for others. If you want to answer that need, then the best place to start, is committing to your own future self.
If you cannot make a commitment to yourself, how on earth should anyone else ever trust you?
This makes this exercise perhaps one of the most powerful and relevant exercises in figuring out what you want and who you are. You need to put your intention behind actually realising your vision. You will also have to confront the barriers that are holding you back from realising the goals that you say you want to achieve. And for some, it will help them to realise that the goals that they actually want are completely different from what they have been thinking so far.
Making commitments to doing something in the future can feel scary. The truth is, if you have not done this kind of thing before, then probably a good deal of your vision will be more based on boyhood fantasy than honest clear sightedness. But it is important that that doesn’t stop you from trying. This is all about building your ability to set long term goals, to translate them into a strategy to get there, and break it down into smaller tasks that can be executed to actually reach it — the building blocks of moving from boyhood to manhood.
That is the difference between living a life of meaningful purpose where you know who you are and where you are headed, and a life where you have no fixed identity or mission and drift on the impulses and forces around you, easily manipulated to fit into other people’s agendas.
Of course your vision can and will shift over time. This is all about formulating the best possible vision you can for yourself right now.
The Vision Exercises
In order to formulate your vision, we are going to go through four steps, which will take at least one hour and could take up to 2 to 3 hours. Decide on when you have the time, and then when you are ready, try and do the below in a single sitting.
No one else will be there to hold you accountable, but I would encourage you to give it all the time and focus you possibly can while aiming for a result which can be used to get started.
You are welcome to write your answers on paper, or directly into the form here. Do what suits you best. You can always go back to the link and add to or change your answers.
We have created a 15 minute guided meditation to support you and use in conjunction with the questions below. To take the meditation, grab a pen and paper, find a quiet, comfortable space where you will not be disturbed for 15 minutes, as well as at least 5 – 10 minutes to write down afterwards, and then put on the Finding Your Vision Guided Meditation audio file here.
Then dive into the exercises here:
Step one: Your Perfect Day
As a preparation exercise to get you in the right frame of mind and start forming your vision, answer the Perfect Day Questions Exercise.
Step two: What makes you feel fulfilled?
Take a step back and think about the times in your life where you have felt most satisfied, deeply connected, and fulfilled. This could be memories from your childhood, from recent accomplishments, or just meaningful moments that you have collected over the years.
Take your time to scroll through the timeline of your life. Allow different pictures, experiences and moments to pop up. Spend time feeling into each one individually, noticing the qualities of them. Take notes as makes sense.
For me, I inevitably think of when I have succeeded in achieving a significant goal in what I see as my personal mission. I love bringing people together, building bridges, and helping people to see a broader, unexpected perspective which creates more space in themselves. To see how they are more limited by their own mistaken beliefs about reality than by reality itself, which only invites us to be free. I also think of the moments of deep interpersonal connection I have experienced, especially when those moments are built upon the foundation of long term loyalty and trust, of knowing that others believe in me, have my back, and are there to support me if I need it. And I also think of how I feel after I have just had a really intense session of Brazilian Jujitsu, completing a marathon where I maintained a disciplined training regimen for months, and then gave my all on the day.
These memories help me to connect to myself at my best, to appreciate aspects that are under my control and which bring meaning to my life.
What do you see when you consider your work and mission, your relationships and your personal activities?
Write it down. This will form the “Why” part of your vision – what motivates you. Don’t try and write perfectly in well formulated sentences, but just let the words come onto paper, writing completely for yourself as the ideas and thoughts come into your head.
Step three: What kind of a man?
Maniphesto is founded on the idea that the ideal man is not a fixed state which is within our reach, but it is an emergent process which is continually evolving at a personal as well as societal level. This simply means that the work on becoming a better man never stops! The moment that we think, “now I have made it,” or “now I’ve got it figured out and can tell the others what to do,” is the moment we are most likely to be already falling flat on our nose, even if we only realise it years later (I am speaking from experience of course).
So the question you need to answer here is:
Given what is most meaningful and fulfilling in your life, as you have written above, what are the qualities, aspects of yourself and virtues that you are going to need to develop?
What kind of a man will you need to be to achieve your vision?
Write your answer in the present tense, to get a real touch of what putting on those qualities feels like. It is OK if doing this feels slightly uncomfortable. There is a good chance you will get into contact with issues from your past during this step – and need to work through not being reactive to these.
For myself, I have developed discipline, endurance and focus to create structure and stability in my own life and around me. I have built courage, clarity and discernment to stand up for and implement what I believe in. I embody compassion and empathy to connect to all the people who are so different in their view than me. And I hold wisdom, patience and trust to lead others and scale out the work I want to do.
What kind of man will you need to be as you start stepping into your vision for yourself?
This is the “How” part of your vision – what you need to become to ensure success.
Step four: Your vision
Now you have identified the things that create the most fulfillment and satisfaction in your life, you have cleared with yourself what kind of a man you will need to become in order to reach your goals, and you are ready to formulate your vision for 3-5 years from now. Again, write it in the present tense and experience for a moment what it is like living that vision as you write it.
When you are ready to write, consider:
Where and how do you live? What education do you have? What do you spend your time doing every day? What are the most important relationships in your life and what do they look like? What is your financial situation like? What do you do in your spare time?
This is the final “What” part of your vision – what the future actually looks like. Again, do not try and formulate a perfect presentation — this is for your benefit.
Creating a compelling and meaningful vision is a task which never ends. It starts by accepting that you are where you are right now, and there is no need to beat yourself up for how you are doing it. There is no right or wrong way, and whatever comes out when you start writing is the perfect place to begin.
This is a challenging exercise, and don’t worry if you don’t feel it’s perfect yet. As long as you find something which you feel connects to who you are, then you have gotten off to a powerful start. You will be getting feedback and input from the men in your Core team on your vision and goals to be implementing the vision. So do what you can for now, and move on. Once you have it, check off this task on the course step list and move on to the next step.