How Will You React?
This picture has so much meaning to me...
It’s taken me a lifetime to get to a point where this exchange could happen.
I was down in Lake Powell this past Thursday with one of my leadership groups...
We were parked at the beach in Navajo Canyon, just as I had dozens of times before.
We were watching the Utah-Florida game when 50 mph winds hit the beach, and both of our houseboats were caught in the wind like a sail.
One of the houseboat anchors came out. Thankfully, running a men’s coaching program, you have a lot of manpower.
We had 30 guys on the ropes in just a few seconds and the houseboat was straightened out. Another half dozen guys dug new holes to replace the anchors.
About 100 feet down the beach from our other houseboat, one of the nicest houseboats was on the water.
The winds and rain picked up even more and all of a sudden houseboat number two was also coming unanchored.
Suddenly, four or five men and women ran from the nice houseboat to help us, mostly to ensure that our boat didn’t come off the beach and hit their houseboat.
One of the men in that group is the man that you see in these photos. He instantly grabbed a shovel and I don’t think he could’ve dug that hole quicker if he was trying to bury a body and the cops were around the corner.
He let the moment get the best of him and started yelling names at all of us. Questioning our masculinity and my entire program due to the fact that “none of us knew how to bury an anchor properly.”
After yelling at me and a few others, I responded calmly, thanking him for his help. Admitting that it was inconvenient, but also held my ground. I’ve seen half a dozen boats come unanchored or flip over because of winds like those.
He stormed off only to return about an hour later. This is where the story gets good. He immediately apologized for acting like an ass and even got emotional because he was so upset with himself and the way he had acted. I could tell this was a man that’s done a lot of work on himself.
The next morning, he returned, and we had a longer discussion about what had happened. He talked about all the lessons learned, I talked about how grateful I was for the situation both because it was a great team-building exercise and it was proof of how much work I’ve done on myself. That I did not respond emotionally to him yelling at me and questioning my masculinity was a powerful experience for me.
I had the impression to ask him to speak to our group, so we did. He shared his transformation story from being an alcoholic and 250+ pounds to one of the healthiest men I’ve ever encountered.
He teared up talking about our program and how much it meant for him to see 50 guys working on themselves in this setting. He had been suicidal once, and all the things we were doing, like breathwork, building community, reading good books, and taking care of our bodies got him out of his depression.
It ended with us inviting him to lead us in a yoga exercise the next morning. He gladly did, and somebody who would have been an enemy in any other era of my life is somebody that I’m certain will be a friend for the rest of it.
Brené Brown says it’s very difficult not to love somebody we lean into and get to know. I could have just assumed this man was an asshole, yelled back at him, and had some weird energy between us there on the beach for a couple of days.
I would’ve justified to myself why that was what I should’ve done.
Instead, I complimented him for helping us. I thanked him. I gave him an opportunity to redeem himself because none of us should be judged based on our worst moments.
His daughter was there too and she got to see the worst of him and the best of him all in a 24-hour span. She now knows the difference between toxic and healthy masculinity. She knows how to own your mistakes and make amends.
I was so grateful for this experience; it was the highlight of the entire weekend! Thank you Jed for your humility and your help saving the houseboat!
Much love friend.