Happy Tuesday #Jontourage,
Welcome back to the “Classy Gent Chronicles”, where staying classy is the only way to be. It’s been over two years since my last blog post so I am excited to be writing again. Blogging was always cathartic for me but sometimes life happens and before you know it, it’s been two years since you last did something you once enjoyed. Ironically enough, my blog topic today is on what got me blogging again. So with that being said, let’s jump into it.
So boom, I’m on Instagram one day (I spent way too much time on Instagram) and I see a commercial for the new VH1 show “Girls Cruise” starring Lil Kim, Chilli and my favorite Mya. For anyone who knows me, it’s no secret that I am a huge Mya fan. If you don’t believe me, check this blog out https://www.authorjon.com/blog/mya-classy-creative-cool Now that we have gotten that out of the way, once I saw that “Girls Cruise” commercial, I knew that I was watching. The show focused seven people on a trip traveling through the Caribbean on a cruise ship. What I thought was going to be another standard reality television show filled with over the top theatrics ended up changing my perspective on a lot of things. The biggest lesson I took away from the show is that I wasn’t meant to go through my journey alone and it’s okay to be vulnerable with people you can trust.
That show got me thinking about the areas I need growth in and why I have been struggling with them for so long. The show “Girls Cruise” really got me wondering, why is it that women can come together to support each other with goals whereas guys do not come together as much unless it’s for a social occasion (playing video games, going to the bar, watching the game on tv, etc.)? Men but especially men of color generally do not like opening up to others about their weak areas for fear of ridicule. A lot of times, we do not accomplish our goals because we get stuck and don’t want anyone to know that we are stuck so we don’t ask for help along the way. Before you know it, that clothing line never came out, that song never dropped, and that book never got published.
Then it hit me like a ton of bricks, I need a better support system! I’m really good at supporting others but I need support too. Why does it have to be one or the other when we should all be giving and getting support? One day, I’m sitting in a meeting at work and this idea pops into my head that I need to start a support group for men. One of my female friends does a lot of work around women’s empowerment and I see how many women support her efforts by participating in her group discussions and events. However, as a male who loves accomplishing goals, I didn’t necessarily find an equal number of opportunities for men to have that same type of support system. At this point, I’m not even paying attention during the meeting anymore because I am jotting down ideas for how this men’s support group would look (how would I market it, how would I track the impact, what are the rules of the chat). I wanted the group to be the perfect blend of productivity where people could brainstorm with the others in the group and accountability where we could discuss the mental aspect as to why goals aren’t being met. After running the idea by a couple of friends, everyone loved the idea so I that was my confirmation to do it.
After sharing on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, several guys commented that they were interested and I was super hype at this point. When you open yourself up to something like this, there is that fear that no one will be interested and you put yourself out there for nothing. After finding about five guys who wanted to join originally, I created the group chat. One of the guys in the group who also did my new blog logo created our group chat logo. I decided the “Men on the Move” group chat was the perfect name because we are all moving in a better direction. To start out on a strong note, I sent everyone group chat rules so that this chat stayed a positive environment. Just like that, we were underway…
Our system is very simple, on Monday’s we set new goals. The one rule with goal-setting is very simple, it must be a goal that can be measured. Goals like “be a better person” are hard to track on a week to week basis. Wednesday’s we have our first check-in where everyone shares their progress towards the weekly goal. Friday’s are our second check-in. The purpose of the check-ins allows us to share where we are and get support. In an ideal world, if you set a goal on Monday, you would also start working on it on Monday’s but we all know that’s not the case. The check-ins are our accountability to get started and see how the rest of the group can help. Sunday is our reflection day where we discuss our accomplishments for the week and where we fell short. It allows us as a group to see where each other can use more support.
Over time the group chat grew to now 14 members. The one thing that I emphasized to all the members is that this is 100% voluntary. There were some who inquired about the chat but never joined and that’s fine too. This is a productivity and accountability chat so you should join it if you’re prepared to do the work and be held accountable. My favorite part about the chat is that there are no egos or competition. This is 100% a support group. There are no prizes or consequences. It is not based on who completed their goals the fastest, who set the most goals, who overcame the biggest hurdle to complete their goal or anything else. We are all here to win and we are all here to help. Some of the members set goals based around their career, others base it around their health, and some want to work on personal projects that they have always wanted to get to. Some weeks, we do really well with accomplishing our goals. Some weeks, more than half of us make no progress towards our goals and that’s okay too. We push each other to get back on track when we fall off.
Since making this chat and being a part of this support system, I have lost about 25 more pounds (now 55 pounds total) because one of my accountability partners walks with me several times per week. I have also finished the formatting for my children’s books which became a shelved project for over a year. As you can see, I also found the inspiration to start blogging again. I really loved blogging and I was disappointed I stopped but now I am back. It’s nice being a part of a group where you can discuss your struggles openly. I shared with the group how for a while I struggled with releasing projects for fear of being critiqued because it was not perfect. I would sit on million-dollar ideas because I was seeking perfection. This group has reminded me that we are all human and it’s okay to start where you are. It will get better over time if you stay committed.
If you asked me what was one of my best decisions made in my 20’s, I would tell you creating this chat with guys who are trying to improve their lives was my smartest move. To be excellent, you have to be around excellence.
Moral of the story: Old tricks don’t work for the new you and where you want to go. There is saying that says “if you want to go fast, go alone but if you want to go far, go together”. One of the best decisions I made was creating and joining this men’s accountability and productivity group chat. P.S. If any guys reading this want to join, please reach out so we can get you added. For all my ladies reading this, I encourage you to find a good support system.
Remember, in order to live out your dreams, you have to think it, feel it, live it! Until next time, stay classy...
For more Classy Gent Chronicles blog post, be sure to visit https://www.authorjon.com/blog
Jonathan C. Harris is no stranger to leadership, hard work, or success. At the age of ten years old, he earned the right to be a guest weatherman for a day on Fox 5 DC News. He has already received over 100 honors and awards including Forty Under 40 for Prince George’s County, MD, TEDx Talk speaker, American College Personnel Association (ACPA) Outstanding Men’s Program, high school Valedictorian and the Kiwanis Club Citizenship Award. Raised in Fort Washington, Maryland, he has served in leadership positions his entire life, from being the manager of the school store in elementary school to the president of the Homelessness Awareness Club in middle school to the president of the National Honor Society in high school.