Conscious Men, unlike most of the books I am reading on men’s work, first casts a vision rather than just inviting men on a journey of discovery. At the same time, I get the sense that the authors took their own journey, and are now describing where they are in hopes that others might have an easier path.
For this reason, it needs two reviews. One for the man new to men’s work. Another for a man who is just starting.
At one level, I am not a fan of the “sharing from the end” approach. Yes, Conscious Men admittedly offers only one set of conclusions. Well backed conclusions coming from an expert voice. Offered to men who have no idea what they are looking for. I can imagine me not that long ago seeing this as another checklist of things to do. Sure the book warns against this approach, but it is what men know how to do. Pulling the practices from the end of each chapter, I would build a schedule no human could keep up with, and then try so I too could become conscious. I would check off all the boxes and point to all the things I did, only to end up exhausted after a few days. Before long, I would give up and return to what is comfortable.
The brutal reality is that men’s work is uncomfortable. Not only do you need to face parts of yourself you do not want to see, but you have to approach life in entirely new ways. For the beginner, Conscious Men feels too much like trying to do the new thing in the old way. Instead, I would recommend:
- King, Warrior, Magician, Lover
- Iron John
However, as someone further down the road, this book is a fantastic way to reflect on the journey. The practices become more like invitations to something else you might want to try. The bulk of the chapters turn into trips down memory lane. You get to see and celebrate progress, but also learn a bit about what might be further down the road.
Finally, the sections for women, to help them understand their man’s journey, are priceless! I recommend every wife or girlfriend of someone doing men’s work buying this book and reading it. However, she should hide it from her man until he makes significant progress. It strikes me as a treasure trove of insights on his journey, tips to subltly help him along the way, and a bit of map to understand where he is and where he is going.