Until very recently in human society, we often grew up, worked, and died in close proximity to where we were born. This wasn’t just due to custom and tradition; it was a constraint of technology. As the Industrial Revolution provided inexpensive means to travel and relocate, and monetary and climate shocks caused migrations, society necessarily became more fragmented. Thus, despite our connectedness digitally, it may seem harder than ever to keep in touch with old friends and cultivate new ones.
This theme is at the heart of Stephen Mansfield’s Building Your Band of Brothers, which he has often called the missing chapter of his well-known Mansfield’s Book of Manly Men. He noted that after he had taken the time to share stories of great men throughout history, in which it was often noted that those men leaned on a brotherhood to help them through difficult times but even to enjoy the good ones, that men asked, “Well, how do I build my own band of brothers?”
Just as technology was part of the cause of society fragmenting, it is also a means to unite it. There are many ways that men are meeting these days, be it through social events that can be found on Meetup, or through more curated groups like the Art of Manliness’ Strenuous Life, or by the physical challenges of events like Spartan Races, more and more men are using technology to meet those they would not otherwise have met.
But meeting like-minded men is not enough. Mansfield encourages us to form groups of men we can “do life with.” There will be some natural overlap with those we occasionally smoke cigars or grab a drink with, but much more importantly, these are the men we can be open and vulnerable with, be it about challenges in business, relationships, or in raising children. It is that willingness to be completely open and honest that transforms these relationships from those that simply help you pass the time to those that help shape and transform your life.
Not everyone will want or be ready for a band of brothers in the way that Mansfield advocates for. But you can begin by simply asking those men closest to you if they would be willing to be part of something that doesn’t just focus on the superficial, but is willing to delve down deep, to challenge you to be the best gent you can be, which can often mean confronting the challenges in our lives just as much as celebrating the wins. If they say yes, you’ve got a beginning of something. If they say no, find others who will. Honesty and openness are vast accelerators of new friendships.
Do you have a band of brothers? How long have you had one? If not, is there anything that would keep you from joining or forming one? Share with us in the comments below to receive a free course upgrade on your next hair service (from a 3-course to a 5-course or from a 5-course to a 7-course).