The term “brotherhood” is thrown around a lot these days. But what does it really mean? And how do you create one for yourself, or your friends? Here are some tips and tricks to help get you started on this journey of brotherhood creation.
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Note from the editor: This is a guest post by Jonathan Mead.
When I asked my closest male friends, “What’s the one thing you believe was or is lacking that’s held you back from being a man?” their replies startled me.
I figured it would be “lack of direction” or “not understanding my mission” for most males. But the common thread that ran across all of the responses took me totally off surprise.
Almost every responder mentioned a terrible lack of brothers or mentoring in their life.
That is a discomfort I am very familiar with.
I’ve felt a lack of brothers for at least a decade, and I’ve questioned whether I’ll ever have what my childhood pals and old barbershop chairs have.
I’m not just talking about “bros” you hang out with, but genuine, down-to-earth individuals you know will be there for you through thick and thin. I’ve had a strong need to form a brotherhood of men with whom I can meet up without hesitation and have genuine friendship, rather than simply people out to get intoxicated and pursue women.
And it’s painfully obvious to me that most guys want for something more than beer slugging and fantasy football.
I’d had enough of silently whining and resolved to take action. You may either actively create what you desire, like I did, or wallow in your sadness, as I did.
But first and foremost…
Intentional Brotherhoods: A Lost Art
Tribes and nomadic cultures used to be founded on brotherhood. “Male bonding is a process with biological origins to the development of relationships essential for collective defense and hunting,” stated Lionel Tiger, who practically wrote the book on male bonding.
The issue then becomes: Have we lost the importance of male groups since they are no longer required in our contemporary lives?
Modern brotherhood is becoming more of a lost art consigned to hidden groups and dwindling traditions due to its lack of survival duty. Fraternities, Boy Scouts, and religious organizations are the only existing manifestations of these brotherhoods. You could also have built-in brotherhood via close brothers, uncles, or even your father, or childhood friendships that have persisted into adulthood.
That is, if you are fortunate. That is not the case with me.
I was an only child with four sisters, so there was no “built-in brotherhood” for me. And, although I enjoyed Boy Scouts, it is an experience that comes to an end when you reach maturity.
If brotherhood isn’t built-in, we may have to invent it.
It’s no surprise that films like Fight Club and 300 have become so successful. They arouse in us an unquenchable yearning to be a part of our own tribe of guys whom we may refer to as brothers.
But, as males, can we learn to cope with just surface-level engagement and solitude? No, I don’t believe so.
We need brotherhoods today more than ever for three reasons:
The First and Most Important Reason: We Need Brotherhoods to Become Better Men
Men, not women, are the most likely to create gender-based organizations, and they also have the largest number of secret societies (“secret societies”).
While most of these organizations have had a clear objective in the past — religious, political, or otherwise — it is via structured groupings that men compete, insult, berate, and develop together.
This is a male-only method of bonding and development. For thousands of years, men have gathered in purposeful groups to sharpen one other in various ways. We develop as a result of the difficulties we face from other guys.
Critical Reason #2: We Learn Best When We Bond with Other Men
The distinguishing trait of the male sex is brilliantly stated by David Deida, author of Way of the Superior Man: “Life as a man is like a perpetual mistake repair.” Making a mistake, repairing it, and then making another error, correcting it.”
This is in contrast to how women engage and bond with one another. Men are more dichotomous in their thinking: “This is right and this is wrong, and I learn by figuring out what is most correct.” Women, on the other hand, are more intuitive: “This is how I feel, and based on everything I’m taking in, I’m going to feel out what I want to do next.”
We need this sort of criticism and direction from other guys as men to help us remedy our mistakes and understand what it means to be a man. We’re not very excellent at figuring things out on our own. In order to determine our own most suitable way, we need to watch “proper” conduct.
Brotherhoods may be the antidote to fatherlessness and depression, according to reason #3.
While women attempt suicide at a higher rate than males, men commit 3/4 of all suicides. And, during the last decade, men’s suicide rates have risen dramatically; among middle-aged males, suicide now accounts for over 30 out of every 100,000 fatalities, more than three times that of their female counterparts. Suicide rates among males in their fifties have soared by 50 percent. What is the cause of this increase? Isolation is one of the causes cited by researchers.
Women are more likely to keep connections, seek aid, and express their emotions than males. What is it about males that makes them so awful at this? Is it because we’ve lost touch with the fraternity and camaraderie that allows us to be ourselves as men? Is it because of a lack of strong male role models that we’ve become lost in a society where we don’t know how to be strong, compassionate, and brave men (according to the 2011 US census, one out of every three children is raised without a father)?
Obviously, more men must stand up and lead as dads, but we also need more men to lead other men.
How Brotherhood Eventually Assists Me in Becoming a Man
I didn’t feel like I was actually a man until I quit my job, went freelance, and began working for myself. I felt like I had gone through a rite of passage that turned me into a man once my wife and I were completely dependant on my abilities to hustle and make ends meet.
Maybe it was the feeling that I had some influence over the path and direction of my own life. For the first time in my life, I was completely self-sufficient.
But it wasn’t only because of my own willpower that I was able to accomplish. It was because I was part of a brotherhood that was likewise attempting to forge their own paths on their own terms. These guys helped me get back on my feet, believing in me and making me stronger than I was before.
And, although internet interactions are nice, I realized I was missing something more personal and offline. I wanted to be able to call the guys up and invite them to a pick-up game of basketball in the park or a trip in the woods without having to plan it out a month ahead of time.
I want true brotherhood, so I resolved to take action.
“When you’re sick and tired of being sick and weary, you’ll finally do something about it,” says an ancient adage.
When there were so many amazing guys around me, I grew weary of whining about a lack of brothers.
So I collected nine local men’ email addresses and asked them a simple question:
“Would you be interested in doing amazing stuff with other wonderful guys once a month?”
“Hell yeah,” was the resounding answer. I assume I wasn’t the only one who need such assistance.
So far, we’ve played glow-in-the-dark miniature golf, sat and sipped mind-expanding tea (yep, tea can make you high, believe it or not), and worked together to overcome phobias. We utilize our get-togethers as an opportunity to spend time together and perform enjoyable, bucket-list activities.
To form a fraternity, you don’t need blood-brother rituals, matching tattoos, or secret handshakes (not that any of those things aren’t wonderful).
All you need is a little bit of foresight and the proper personnel.
How to Form a Brotherhood of Your Own
The first and most important stage is to identify your goal and intention:
- What are you looking for in a brotherhood, and why are you looking for it?
- What do you want to get out of it and what do you hope to give back to it?
- Is it more important to you to have fun, connect, and do interesting things, or do you care more about having a place to communicate and work through your struggles and concerns as a man?
Answering these questions will assist you in determining your group’s mission.
Where to look for the proper guys for your brotherhood:
This is perhaps the most difficult aspect, which is why most guys would never put in the effort required to form an organized men’s organization.
There are a few options available to you:
- Find a well-established men’s organization or meetup in your area. This could be the perfect match for you if all you desire is a place to express yourself and explore your masculinity. If you can locate a decent, established organization, this is the simplest option.
- Locally, form a group. Because you won’t have to operate within the confines of an existing organization and “fit in” to their aims, you’ll have the greatest purposeful control and freedom. This is a little more difficult, but it’s well worth it if you want to figure out the group’s path.
- Move to a location where there is already a group. Obviously, this is the most difficult choice. This shift, on the other hand, can be just what you need if you’re already wanting to relocate to a place with a culture that’s more in line with who you are.
- Create a virtual group. Obviously, this is the most restricted variant, but it may suffice if you are unable to locate or form a local group. Instead, you may use Skype or Google Hangout to meet.
Finding and enrolling the best men:
Depending on your goals for the organization, you’ll have to decide who and how you’ll recruit. If you want a monthly men’s group to discuss and push each other to develop as men, you’ll have different requirements for the men you recruit than if you want a weekly men’s group to debate and challenge each other to grow as men.
You don’t have to stick to one of these group kinds, but deciding on your goal for the group can help you find the proper people.
Here are some pointers I’ve found useful in my search for nice men:
- Look for males that are interested in personal development, fitness, and pushing over their own boundaries. Where do these gentlemen congregate? Of course, there are conferences, seminars, blogs, forums, and events dedicated to personal development.
- Look for guys with whom you would like spending a whole weekend. If someone immediately gets on your nerves, they’re usually not a good match.
- Determine the group size and demographics you want. 6-10 men is a good size for me since it keeps things simple. The majority of the males in our group are between the ages of 25 and 50. Because we are all health-conscious and lead active lives, it is simple for us to engage in physical activities.
- First, look inside your own network. Approach people you’d want to connect with more intimately, such as colleagues, friends, and family. Post on Facebook that you’re thinking of forming a group and asking for interest. Send a casual invitation to the folks you’re thinking about inviting.
- Use resources like Craigslist (in their Strictly Platonic section) and Meetup.com if you’re having problems enrolling in your existing network.
Creating the correct environment and setting the right intention:
Every month on the last Saturday, our men’s group gets together. Every month, we accept suggestions for what we should do next, and then we vote on it.
This serves as an excuse for us to try new things and overcome personal problems. Some of them have been on one of our bucket lists for quite some time now. Some of them are skills or experiences that one of us has always desired to acquire or attempt. It’s sometimes simply something odd and enjoyable.
You may establish a weekly gathering with a predetermined agenda if you want to be more official. Here is a fast start guide to starting a formal men’s group.
Then, if there are any, decide on the rules. We have two ground rules in our group:
- It has nothing to do with business. It would be simple for us to default to work-related discussions and activities if we didn’t have this guideline. This guideline helps us keep focused on what important to us: connecting outside of work, which we already do a lot of.
- If you skip two meetings in a row, you will no longer be invited. We’re looking for members that are dedicated to the cause and are in it for the long haul. It wasn’t meant to be if you’re not dedicated, and we’re not going to attempt to persuade you differently.
We may modify this in the future, but for now, it works for us.
The ultimate, never-ending phase — brotherhood cultivation:
Obviously, the first step is the most difficult. However, you can’t stop there.
It takes time, commitment, and ongoing effort to build a meaningful, lifelong fraternity. On a regular basis, you must “show up” for your brothers. You must provide room for them to grow into the person they were born to be. You must motivate, challenge, and push each other to achieve new heights.
It’s more important than everything else that you just show up.
Here are some ideas about how to go about it:
- Take an active interest in the males in your group’s ambitions, objectives, and goals. How can you modify conversations, activities, and trips to support your friends in achieving their goals?
- Brief the group on a regular basis. What’s next on the agenda? When was the last time you all got together and did something fun and memorable?
- Encourage others (particularly more withdrawn and introverted individuals) to speak out and assume a leadership role by sharing the limelight. Consider alternating meeting and event organizing and leadership.
- Teaching by example is a good way to go. The more you demonstrate completely living, embodied masculinity, the more you will encourage others to do the same.
- Make it almost impossible to miss. Create a group and an experience that no one wants to miss.
The most important thing is to turn up and contribute bravely to your fellow guys.
More brotherhood is needed in the globe. Will you be the one to make it?
More males need to step forward. More guys need to stand up and lead by example.
Don’t wait till you’ve sorted everything out as a man. Don’t wait till you’ve perfected your leadership skills. Don’t wait till you’ve assembled the ideal bunch of gentlemen. A motley crew of misfits will suffice.
More brave guys need to gather together to push each other and develop together in the world. Don’t you think so?
So here’s my challenge to you: Do one thing today to increase your brotherhood.
Now it’s your turn: Have you ever felt a void in your life because of a lack of brotherhood? What are your plans for dealing with it?
Now it’s your turn: Have you ever felt a void in your life because of a lack of brotherhood? What are your plans for dealing with it?
Jonathan Mead is a writer and coach who helps individuals establish tribes around their passions while still being paid well. Download the free toolkit he created for you here to learn more about developing a tribe and being paid to live fearlessly.
The “art of manliness boy names” is a book that teaches men how to create lifelong friendships.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you increase your brotherhood?
A: You can increase your brotherhood by completing quests in the game. Each quest has a different reward for completion, such as bonus points and experience to use towards skill growth.
What is real brotherhood?
A: Real brotherhood is a term used in biology, psychology and sociology to describe the relationship between siblings. A real brother or sister would be one born from the same biological mother (or father).
What are the characteristics of brotherhood?
A: Brotherhood is a type of social group characterized by close personal relationships. They are typically male and share an emotional attachment, loyalty to each other, or financial support for one another. Typical examples include fraternities, military units (such as platoons), street gangs and many others
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