A couple of weekends ago, I was able to go on my own “men’s” weekend. It was made up of myself, Tim Miles, my friend and partner in Global Adventure, his son Ben who is also a volunteer leader with the charity, and our friend Phil. We planned to wild camp, do some climbing and hiking, and just have an fun weekend where we didn’t have the responsibility to look after anyone.
I did notice something on our very first climb, and it continued throughout the day:
A distinct lack of someone saying, “I caaaan’t do it….!”
Now don’t get me wrong, there were some scary pitches, parts where we had to go back and reassess, and then there was a fast hike up the side of Glyder Fawr that had us all out of breath. But there was no point at which any of us emotionally psyched ourselves out by speaking negatively.
And it highlighted a big difference about how men act rather than boys. And how brothers act too.
Strengthen Through Encouragement, Not Pessimism
We have power and life and death on our lips. And how we speak to each other is extremely important.
The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences.
A word out of your mouth may seem of no account, but it can accomplish nearly anything—or destroy it! It only takes a spark, remember, to set off a forest fire. A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can do that. By our speech we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke …
Negative talk effects everyone around it. And as these words of wisdom say, that little part of the body can ruin a day, an weekend away, or more. All through “speaking death.” When brothers are working together, there is no talk of “I can’t do this.” the only thing you hear is encouragement, “You CAN do this!” There is only speaking life.
Challenge Through Perseverance and Grit
It’s a delicate balance, I know: When men get together, there is an element of pride: “I can’t look like I am struggling, or weak”, but there is also an element of what us Americans call guts and what Brits might call grit: being able to use that extra bit of reserves, both emotional and physical, to overcome an challenge.
The positive side of that attitude means that there is something in the air—testosterone, perhaps—when brothers get together. That atmosphere does strengthen men, and that spirit of camaraderie helps you to ruck further, climb higher, lift heavier loads. There is strength in numbers!
A Step Towards Brotherhood: Speak!
So a brotherhood is made up of men who commit to Strengthen and Challenge each other. Our mouths are powerful things and they are able to shift an atmosphere. Complaining, negative talk, gossip, and foul mouthing others does nothing but destroy trust, discourage, and emotionally sap the energy from any activity. On the other hand, encouragement, positive reinforcement, and upbeat, optimism can strengthen both our physical muscles and mental resolve.
If you are a natural pessimist or cynic, start small: challenge yourself to go one day without complaining or speaking bad about a person or situation. Always remember, your encouragement can go a long way, whether you’re climbing a mountain or helping a friend through a tough relationship.