The Power of the Negative

January 12, 2021

Welcome back to 2021.

We thought we’d begin the year by recalling one of the most powerful moments of the 2020, when one of our men posed a question.

Who and what I don’t want to be

So there we were in the Universal Man conference and we were talking all about things like vision boards and we create a playbook for life. And one of the guys, Luke Baker, who’s helped us with leading some of the groups, wonderful guy, shared his journey through the different stages of trying to create a vision board. And one of the moments that one of the most powerful things he said along the way was, “I was okay at working out what I wanted to get.” But then he put up this slide. He said, “What I don’t want, what I don’t want in life, what I don’t want to be, what I don’t need to have.” And what was interesting is, when he started listing the things and what I don’t want, is the response from all the other guys, there was 22 other guys on the call, was quite remarkable. It really resonated with everyone, because sometimes it can be hard to work out what you want.

And the best thing to do is say what I don’t want. And Luke said things like, 

“I don’t want to coast under the radar, not really enjoying myself. I don’t want to live just for me. I don’t want to waste my life spending too much time on social media, et cetera.” 

We won’t read everything that he said, but these kind of things started to give him a sense of what he then wanted to be. So what we’re sharing today is the power of the negative. We often talk about optimism and positivity and all these things, but we sometimes forget that the best lens we can put on things is what we don’t want. What annoys us, what’s negative, what frustrates us, what pisses us off. Sometimes that is a really great key to the thing we want.

And it’s just an amazing thing, because as Bakesy was sharing, everyone, and Pricey and Grego included, we were all going, “Yeah.” And then we began to make our own list. 

Who’s the person I don’t want to be? What are the things I don’t want people saying about me? 

And then we became aware of things of shame in our life, things which we fear in our lives. Where’s anger running my life, where am I holding on to hurts, where have I put things into the too hard basket? Where have I got a little voice saying, “You are only this.” And all those different things, which are the negatives. And when we sat with that and said, “Okay, what’s the flip side? What’s the positive side?”

So from what I don’t want to be, who I don’t want to be, I can then say, therefore this is who and what I want to be. Because in 2020, so many of us were so glad to leave 2020 in the past, and it wasn’t just because of coronavirus. It was turn on the TV and night after night, and the politicians and others within our world, and it was all negative and putting shit onto one another, dumping on one another, and A would say B’s a goose. B would say A is a goose. And sure, we know that’s the way politics often is, but 2020 was really, really bad.

And in the midst of all of that, and we had an election over in the United Kingdom, we had an election in the United States. And in all of that, we kept looking for the person who would positively stand up, positively name this is who I want to be, positively saying, this is what I want to do, positively saying, this is the better world I want to leave behind me, positively saying this is the contribution I want to make. So it was just great to hear Luke say, “Who don’t I want to be? What don’t I want to be?”

Asking the Hard questions

It does make you ask some pretty hard questions because, well, one of the things that happened to Greg in 2020 was when he and his family were in hard lockdown, he’s got a little saying, in his work, which is, “Leaders are dealers of hope.” And a lot of what we do at Universal Man is, all the brothers helping each other, everyone helping everyone deal hope. But sometimes, and so what happened to Greg over about a six week period in the lockdown was he wasn’t dealing hope. He was dealing with negativity. He’d been drawn into the toxic discussion around what we should be doing and how the response was. And he and his family were locked in their house like a prison. And Greg really didn’t like what he’d become. And he remembers sitting down with his wife saying that “This is not us, I do not like this. We’ve gotta get out”. They didn’t know how to do it at the time, but they just said, “Well, we’re just not going to do that.:

And then Greg and his wife just tried to do a few things, little bits and pieces to change the negative habits, stop reading things, turn off social media, all this kind of stuff, that just made a little bit of a difference. Sometimes even when you find things about yourself or the way you’ve been behaving that are that ingrained, it’s hard to know what the opposite is, what the great outcome is because you’re just not in the head space to even see it. 

Stop that ONE thing

So the first thing to say, is just stop that one thing. Then you’ll get new head space, new insights later, once you’re in a stronger place mentally, you’ll find actually what the actual solution is.

And, you know it’s hard, but in one way, it is really simple. And it’s a matter of stop, be aware, make a choice. So, when you find yourself dumping on someone else, when you find yourself going it’s all me, me, me, when you can’t see the positive things, and when you see a problem and you walk on by, when you only see the bad things in the people around you. Okay, the very first step is stop. Okay. And then immediately become aware, and all the time, the whole awareness thing’s being trying to say stop. Okay, the awareness builds and builds and builds, and there comes a point when the awareness comes to the surface. Okay, stop.

What about them really annoys me?

And the second bit of the whole aware that is what is it about that person that really annoys me? What is it about me that I’m not really proud of? What is it about my own life at the moment that I do not like? And as Luke Baker says, “What things about me, I don’t want to actually be?” And so from that, stop be aware and then choose. What are simple little choices I’m now going to make. Like Gandhi once said, “Be the change you want to see in that world.” And the number of times we look to someone else, they’re going to be the actual maker of that change. But Gandhi say, “No.” You and I, by being a universal man, by being the best man I can be, I will be the change I want to see in the world. And it’s going to be in my personal life, in my professional life, in my family, community, all that type of thing. And it’s a powerful but simple thing and a great way to begin 2021.

Unsure where to start?

If you’re unsure where to start, go back to the life scoreboard, which had all the most important things to you, your finances, your health, your relationships, your career. And if you’ve been unsure about what 10 out of 10 is, start writing down all the things you don’t want in any of those things, what you don’t want to be physically, what you don’t want to be financially, what you don’t want from a career perspective. And that will give you a really good sense of the places you’re going to move away from.

One great moment

If Pricey had one moment in our universal man journey that he looks back on with a real lot of a sense of pride, we were having our U Man weekend in 2019. And on the Saturday night, there were about 20 men at it, and we gathered and the question was posed 

“What is the thing that’s holding me back from being the man I would like to be?”

And we got all the men to spend a bit of time just on their own, and they then wrote different sorts of things down. And we then gathered around the fire, and one at a time the guys got up and they said, “The thing I want to let go of, the thing that’s holding me back is…” And they then shared something and they threw a little bit of paper that they’d written it on to, on to the fire.

So part of what we’re saying is, let’s begin 2021, let’s become aware of the gaps which you have just made. Let’s become aware. What’s holding me back? What’s the thing I can let go of? What’s the thing I can face? What’s the thing I can name? What’s the thing I can engage with? And it appears to be a fairly negative thing. Within that will be the power that’s going to drive 2021.

When we get to the end of 2021, we all will be able to look back on the year and say, “I was this. I was that. Okay, but now I’m not this. I’m not that. I’ve become more the man that I want to be.”

That’s the power of the negative.

Stay Legendary

Pricey and Grego

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