This is an open and honest conversation about men’s mental health…
Join 20,000 listeners every month who get expert insights on building amazing workplace cultures!
Toughen up. Be a man. Boys don’t cry.
Centuries of social conditioning have created a stigma around men’s mental health and burnout.
And it’s killing them.
75% of suicides are men. Suicide is the biggest cause of death among men under 50. Men experience higher rates of cancer, heart disease and addiction – physical health conditions associated with high-stress lifestyles. Men’s mental health, in our workplaces, society and homes, is the conversation we should be having.
In a break from our normal format, this episode focuses on a conversation between Co-Host Al Elliott, and our expert guest, Jim Young.
Just two 40-something guys discussing uncried tears, burnout and being ‘very f@*king far from OK’. It’s a conversation you’ve likely never heard before.
Join Al and Jim for an honest, vulnerable conversation about men’s mental health, including:
- What does burnout look like for men?
- The life-threatening risks of being a ‘tough guy’
- Undoing 10,000 years of social conditioning
- Ego, shame and being on top
- The deadly ‘F Word’
- Using intimacy to create sustainable success for you and your business
So let’s talk men vs mental health.
All the links mentioned in the show.
You can contact Jim Young for more information on his coaching services via LinkedIn:
Or his website:
You’ll find his book, Expansive Intimacy: How “Tough Guys” Defeat Burnout, on Amazon:
For other vulnerable accounts of men’s mental health, including grief, we’d recommend ‘A heart that Works’ by Rob Delaney
There are also many dedicated coaches who offer focused men’s group experiences including Jamie Robbins in the UK (jamiecoach.com), Ken Mossman in the US (cirrusleadership.com/classes), and, Jim (as above).
For more general information on men’s mental health, services and treatments, we recommend looking at:
The Men’s Health Forum:
The Men and Boy’s Coalition:
The Black Men’s Consortium:
Telephone Support Services (UK)
If you’re experiencing domestic abuse, contact the Mankind Initiative on 01823 334244, to speak confidentially.
If you’re in distress or despair, including suicidal feelings, contact the Samaritans on 116 123.
Connect with your hosts
- Connect with Al on LinkedIn
- Connect with Leanne on LinkedIn
- Join the discussion about this episode on LinkedIn
- Email: podcast@TruthLiesandWork.com
- Follow us on Instagram @truthlieswork
- Chat with us on Twitter @truthlieswork
- YouTube channel for the podcast @TruthLiesWork
- Check us out on TikTok (LOL!!!) @truthlieswork
Loved this episode? Here are some more you might like:
💬 Want a chat about your workplace culture? hi@TruthLiesandWork.com
📣 Got feedback/questions/guest suggestions? Email podcast@TruthLiesandWork.com.
👍 Like this kinda stuff? Click here to subscribe…
⚠️ NOTE: This is an automated transcript, so it might not always be 100% accurate!
Join 20,000 listeners every month who get expert insights on building amazing workplace cultures!
Jim Young 0:00
Yeah, there is an ocean of unqualified male tears sitting out there
Leanne Elliott 0:11
Hello, and welcome to the truth lies and workplace culture podcast where we help you simplify the science of people. My name is Leanne. I’m a Business psychologist and welcome back. For our regular listeners. At this point you might be thinking, where’s our where’s your your co host, your partner, your husband. He is appearing in this episode. But this episode is a little bit different to what we’ve put out previously. As you may well know, our last couple of episodes have focused on burnout. And one of the discussions we had in those episodes is that burnout doesn’t discriminate against age, role, social background, race, nationality, or gender. Burnout is a human issue. Mental health is a human issue. And as part of this series, I’ll interviewed Jim Young, who is a coach specialising in helping men and organisations defeat burnout. We had intended for Jim to form part of our burnout panel that you would have heard from our last couple of episodes. And as part of the prep, I listened back to the interviews, and one evening, I was making dinner and I saw I listen to Alan, Jim, I’ll do some multitasking. Three minutes into this interview, I stopped what I was doing, sat down on the sofa, and I listened to this interview and to end it was like no conversation I’d heard before. 240 something men talking about men’s mental health and to pull a quote from his conversation. The ocean of unqualified male tears out there. So yeah, this conversation stopped me in my tracks. And I spoke to Al about making this a standalone episode, it felt like a message that deserved its own space. I’d be lying though if there wasn’t a part of me that was slightly uncomfortable with it. I’m a woman. I’m a feminist, I’m passionate about equality. And the last few years seem to have been a lot of attack on women’s rights 2016 the presidential election in the US I will always remember those images of, of Hillary Clinton being stalked by by Donald Trump in the in the live debates, the pussy grabbing headlines that we saw, and that was a successful presidential campaign. Then last year, the rollback of wage and row restricting access to abortion in the US and potentially devastating implications for women’s health. And then in the UK, pretty most high profile story recently was the shocking story of Sarah avond. Who of you aren’t aware she’s a 33 year old woman who was walking home and was kidnapped, raped and murdered by Wayne cousins who was a serving police officer in the London Metropolitan Police. really shocking and really brought into focus, the ongoing fight to stop violence against women and girls. So yeah, I did wonder, will we be question for promoting the male voice? Will we get eyeballs for giving a platform to voice as already the loudest in our society is a psychologist and I have experienced in suicide prevention. I know the statistics I know that the data shows is that women experienced mental health challenges more than men. I also know that’s a lie. Because what those statistics are showing us is women are more likely to come forward, discuss their mental health challenges and be diagnosed. The truth is the situation is that if we look at statistics more broadly, and these statistics are from the UK, but similar picture across the world, men’s mental and physical health is unacceptably poor. So the line statistics is that women suffer more with mental health challenges. And the truth is that men are equally affected, but feel less able to talk about it. There are many different studies out there that will show you some results. I was reading one from the Priory, which undertook a survey of 1000 men they found that 70% of men polled had suffered with common mental health symptoms such as anxiety, stress or depression. But only 40% of men had ever spoken about it to anyone. 29% said they were too embarrassed to speak about it. 20% So there’s a negative stigma around mental health in men and 40% of men polled said it would take thoughts of suicide or self harm, to compel them to seek professional help. So yeah, the truth is the that human rights are an important issue and human rights against women, people of colour and other minorities have been under attack over the last few years. The truth is also that male mental health is a significant issue within our society. And I don’t believe that male mental health and equal rights need to be conversations that are mutually exclusive. They can happen happen simultaneously. Equality starts with compassion. And compassion for me starts with tuning in to other people in
Leanne Elliott 5:00
In an open and kind way. So that’s why I’d ask you to do as we listen to Alan, Jim. And remember, you know, their, their husbands, their fathers, their sons, brothers, bosses, business partners, friends.
Leanne Elliott 5:13
Jim Young 5:14
My name is Jim Jana, I go by the centred coach. And I focus on helping men in organisations defeat burnout with a bit of an interesting twist on how I do that. And I also wrote a book last year, this might tease into the twist. It’s called expansive intimacy. How tough guys defeat burnout.
Al Elliott 5:30
Yeah, I’m so fascinated by by you, because I’ve been reading all your bits and pieces, some of your posts, and they’re so honest. And I just I love that because I’m going to come on to the likes of Joe Rogan and Dr. Jordan Peterson a bit later on and get your opinions on that. But before we crack into that, just so we’ve all we’re on the same page, can you define burnout for us,
Jim Young 5:54
I’ll start with the clinical definition, the World Health Organisation after about 40 or 50 years of research into it, adopted it in the ICD 11. Back in 2019. It’s a workplace condition of unmanageable stress marked by exhaustion, cynicism, and a lack of professional efficacy. That’s a lot of technical stuff.
Jim Young 6:14
Think about chronic stress over a long period of time and what it does to you and oftentimes framed in the workplace, we become grumpy, we become tired, we can’t get shit done the way we used to. And that’s kind of more of a layman’s way of unpacking that same definition.
Al Elliott 6:29
So if if someone’s listening, and some of those words might have resonate a little bit, then give us some Can you give us an example, perhaps from your own life, because what’s interesting is I’ve noticed you’ve got on your LinkedIn, actually a section on burnout on your actual sort of career, which is cool. So if someone’s listening, and they, they’re hearing those words, then what are the signs are the them either burnt out or on the route to burnout,
Jim Young 6:53
there’s a sense of dread that I think starts to creep in. That’s one of the words that I use a lot, when I look back at my own experience of burnout is this feeling of like, oh my god, I gotta get up and do this. Again, today, I get to deal with these people, I gotta do this thing. I don’t have the energy, I really just wish I could stay in bed or, you know, go do anything else. So it’s, oftentimes the clients who come to me talk about like, they’re, they’re stuck in the mud, or they’re moving in wet cement. Everything just feels hard and heavy. Tell us about an experience you’ve had where you felt that my burnout experience lasted probably seven or eight years, I don’t really know how to measure it. It was in and out of different phases of burnout. And I remember a period of time when I had just gotten separated from my, my then wife, I had three small kids working a full time job to provide for my family. And everything was going through the motions I getting up in the morning, I remember living in this little sad dad condo that I had moved into after we sold our house. And just, you know, walking down the stairs in the morning, you know, kind of shuffling down these carpeted stairs as if it was walking through the Amazon forest that was like, Oh, I’ve got to make all the lunches and I’ve got a you know, go into this job that, you know, is really taking a toll on me. And I don’t see how this is ever going to change. And it’s just you know, I remember this in the middle of winter, too. Like that was the worst of times I wake up in the morning.
Jim Young 8:33
And there’s snow outside to like, Are you kidding me? I gotta shovel my car before I can even do all this stuff.
Jim Young 8:39
So it was a really, really difficult time. Can you pinpoint one particular moment that was like the lowest moment, the lowest moment for me wasn’t a stuck in the mud moment. It was a complete shatter moment where I just realised that I had pushed myself beyond my edge. And I was home alone. My kids were off with their mom. I had worked another long day. And I got home and I was just so depleted. I’d had a I was dealing with crises at work. I was so exhausted and tired. And I just fell apart. I just started sobbing, and it was uncontrollable. Like, I was like, am I going to ever stop crying?
Jim Young 9:22
lying facedown on the floor, this same carpeted condo. Just thinking like, what how did I get here?
Al Elliott 9:32
totally relate to that. And there’s there’s something also interesting about I mean, I’m gonna ask you I originally wanted to ask you what’s the difference between Israel definitely men burning out women burning out but there’s something you just said that resonates so deeply, as you said, You’ve sobbed and there’s not many men who will publicly admit that they were sobbing uncontrollably.
Jim Young 9:53
Yeah, there is an ocean of untried male tears sitting out there because we’re not supposed to
Jim Young 9:59
Do that. And your original question, is there a difference between male and female burnout? symptomatically No, feels the same. How do we get into it? I think there are differences there. And that’s one of them is, as men, we’re taught to hold all those emotions inside. And that is too much to bear. That’s we just can’t. We can’t be healthy. If we only have two emotions, happy and mad.
Al Elliott 10:26
think what’s interesting about your approach to this your book is called expansive intimacy. How tough guys defeat burnout. And is this tough guys? I don’t know whether it’s just the way I’ve I’ve written it down. But I’ve put some exclamation marks I’m not an exclamation is a little. What’s this? What’s this, this tough guy thing we keep talking about?
Jim Young 10:43
Yeah, there are quotes around tough guys in the subtitle. And it’s because of this notion that what is a tough guy, and I interviewed a guy in the book, and he talked about how he felt that his role in life was to just take it on the chin, no matter what to protect his family to provide for them. And never let anybody see that anything ever heard him. And that’s not tough. I mean, that’s, that is the, that’s the archetype that we’ve seen forever. And to be tough is has been, you know, you just bear up you do whatever it takes, you suck it up. And I argue that that’s not really tough, because if you look at statistics around things like divorce, addiction, heart disease, suicide, for men, they start to skyrocket when men get into their middle years. 50s in particular, around suicide is a real danger zone. And if you’re a guy who’s taking it on the chin, you’re sucking it up, you’re isolating, you’re in burnout. And that’s driving you to those conclusions that might end your life early. Or really compromise the quality of your life. You’re not providing for your family. You’re not protecting anyone that is not tough. What is tough, is to say, Oh, my God, I’m scared. Or I need to cry. I need somebody right now I need to help. I’m suffering to actually reveal what’s really going on that we can’t handle everything all the time. That’s just not normal.
Al Elliott 12:19
I think what’s interesting is that there seems to be we’ve seen a lot more about it, particularly men’s mental health. I’ve even saw an advert I think on British TV the other day about men’s mental health, we’re seeing more of it. But talking about it doesn’t seem to be a necessarily a new thing, because we’d have 20 years ago, we had Tony Soprano, and the whole idea of that amazing series was him being this tough guy on the outside and then inside Dr. Melfi is office, he was not even though he tried to be. So I mean, what’s your thinking? Are we are we actually changing the way we think about mental health? Has it been a consistent solid change? What do you think?
Jim Young 12:57
I do think we are changing it. And I think 20 years, or even 40 years is is a blip. We’re talking about 10,000 years of, of conditioning, that we’re supposed to, you know, go club the animal and bring it home and cook it and be be a tough guy that way. That socialisation of manhood is so long. And I think we’re really in the infancy of waking up to saying oh, we don’t have to only have one side of ourselves present, that we can actually be a full person and still be a man, we don’t have to give up the man part to bring in the part that’s softer, nurturing, emotional, however you want to describe it. So it’s just going to take a lot more repetitions, I think. Yeah.
Al Elliott 13:47
I mean, we look at some of our heroes. I mean, one of the ones I’m thinking of is Don Draper, who was the sort of archetypal tough provider, but you just see how he just self sabotage is almost every single stage. So is it is it easier these days, to be experiencing and talking about burnout than it was, say, 50 years ago?
Jim Young 14:09
I think it is. Because it’s been in the zeitgeist so much. There’s been a lot of attention. And I also really think the pandemic had a big shift in that. And I’ve had this conversation with a few people and had asked me like, What do you think? And to me, there was a really important piece of the early pandemic, especially. And it was that we all faced our mortality at an age that we didn’t think we had to, we had no idea like, am I going to go to the supermarket and I’m going to go home and be dead in two days. I had to actually think about, could I die from this mysterious thing that’s floating around and a lot of people obviously did, which was was tragic. But I think it created this consciousness of like, Wait a second. Why am I grinding through my life and not seeing my kids soccer games or dance for performances are going out on date night with my wife or investing in friendships, all the things that make life so rich, why am I not doing that? I can be dead tomorrow. And I’ll say like, Yeah, I had a great ROI on my project. And I bought a big boat that I never used. And I think it was just a wake up moment that started to crack that conversation a little bit more wide open 100%
Al Elliott 15:20
I think the pandemic as tragic as it was, for some people, for the majority of us has changed the way that we look at things, isn’t it?
Jim Young 15:29
It’s, it’s opened up some really important conversations. And I’ve seen a lot more men. And this may also be self selection bias. I’ve really taken a deeper dive into doing work with men and with emotions and with burnout in the past couple of years. So I see people all over the place now and like, oh, great, because we need 1000s of us to be helping support these huge needs that have gone on net for a long time or even unrecognised for a long time.
Al Elliott 15:58
So I’m curious. About 20 years ago, Gary Vee came out and he kind of had this whole hustle culture which turned into the hustler porn and, and it used to be that well, that’s what about when I started my second business, and it was like how, you know, how are you? And you’re supposed to say, Oh, I’m so busy man. I’m so busy man. You know, a big that whole idea? And has that hustle culture? Is that still a thing? Is that still a contributing factor to our burnout?
Jim Young 16:27
For sure, I even think that the I’m so busy, even I’m burned out is a badge of honour, which is part of I actually think it’s really a positive development. Because if people are willing, if men in particular who I’m trying to reach, are willing to say, Hey, I’m wearing the burnout badge. Well, there’s a there’s a dark side to that as well. And it opens up the conversation like yeah, I’m burned out to, you know, maybe I maybe actually don’t want this and I can actually talk about it because it’s okay to say I’m burned out. So I think there’s been some some normative behaviour that’s been positive that’s grown out of hustle culture, and it’s still going on. There’s still people who are, I’ve got to, I’ve got to achieve, I’ve got to succeed. I gotta beat the next guy. I gotta keep climbing the ladder.
Al Elliott 17:15
Yeah, there’s a story I read about one of the richest men, I think he might be in Sweden. And he was one of the richest men, he was the richest man in Sweden. And then something happened, he lost half his wealth, became the third richest man in Sweden, and then stepped in front of a train and killed himself. And it’s just, you know, ego. I don’t know, it feels to me that ego can be really, really detrimental.
Jim Young 17:41
Yeah, can I put a different word on that? I use shame. Because I think that’s a really, really deep and strong undercurrent for men. And that examples of great one, right? I’m number one. Now, I’m not number one, I’m a loser. I’ve failed, I’m weak. I’m less than. And it’s shameful. I can’t face other people until I get back on top. And we see this all over the place. That examples horrifying. We saw that with the elections in the US. We had a president that couldn’t admit that he lost. Why is it? It’s so shameful? And you look at some of the language around that, whether it’s with politicians or people in business, it’s like, I have to be the winner, we have to crush the competition. And if we don’t, what, what does that mean for us? What’s that mean about our identity? Are we are we soft? Are we weak, or we will be a failure? I think that causes a lot of that hustle culture.
Al Elliott 18:45
So tell me that we’re talking. I’m guessing we’re talking about Trump here. So without the ego without the hustle guilty without the Taipei personality? Would he have become president? Do you think?
Jim Young 19:00
That’s a? That’s a great question. I I think it’s a huge part of his brand. I think it was a huge part of the appeal, because I think what he was speaking to in 2016 that caused such a groundswell was this group of men in our culture in particular, who said, I want to be I want us to have a winner abroad. Like I want to follow this guy, because I don’t I don’t feel like maybe I’m winning. I think there’s almost this opposite effect. And a lot of the voters that that turned out for him are not people who maybe participate in hustle culture, but they see like the the sheen of that of having it all. So yeah, that’s that’s a that’s a really intriguing question.
Al Elliott 19:44
It’s just making me think that the does I mean, this is not based on evidence, it’s based on my life. Is that the same as the people who are at the top the man at the top seem to have kind of like a type A personality where I’m curious, do you think that So, in order to be the best at something, you have to have some element of this tough guy. I’m not burnt out I’m fine kind of thing.
Jim Young 20:11
It’s one path. I’ll say that for sure the evidence for back it up. And I also have seen other examples of man, I’ll think of a guy that I consider an informal mentor. His name is Ari Weinzweig, he owns a business called Zingerman’s, or CO co founded that business in the US. And it’s a very successful enterprise. They’ve created a community of businesses about 13 companies over the years starting with a deli in in arbour Michigan. And it’s become this powerhouse that has a phenomenal culture has people. Ari is, is by title one of the leaders. But if you ever talk to the guy, and if you ever hear him, describe how he goes about that how he’s built, the thing is like, We did it together, we create, I’m a piece of this. And this more egalitarian approach has tremendous power in terms of creating the traditional type of success that we think about. And expanding that even more than the people who work in that organisation. Absolutely love it. They have wonderful results because they’re connected. And it’s not this domineering, I’m going to drag us to success no matter what type of energy, it’s a much more collaborative design.
Al Elliott 21:28
It’s interesting, you mentioned that, because I think he’s mentioned in the book, Bo Burlingham, Small Giants. I think he’s one of the stories in there. And it’s funny, because they’re all like the whole idea, as I’m sure you know, and is that it’s about companies decided to stay small. And the one thing that doesn’t really pull out Bo Burlingham, I think is bubbling and the author’s really pull out is that none of them seem to be driven too much by ego. They seem driven by community. So what would you say is the opposite of if we say that we got tough guy, and successful over here, then what would be the opposite of successful? And what would you say? The answer is,
Jim Young 22:06
I don’t know if you’re setting me up for this. But I would say it’s expansive intimacy. And that’s, that’s what I wrote about. And it’s really this different way of looking at success is that if I have places everywhere in my life, where I can dive into relationships that feel trusting and compassionate, and in fulfilling to me, I have so much success, and that includes financially or you know, as a business to grow, when I have that kind of team around me. And I can bring all of those people up, because I work with executives all the time. And so many of them are driven by they want to create opportunities for other people. And when you create those opportunities in a way where where we know each other, we trust each other, we can have real honest relationships where we can share what’s actually going on in our lives, then we can create something completely different, and we can have the same kind of success, we may decide that the goal isn’t to be a trillion dollar a year company, or trillion dollar market cap. We may decide to be a small giant, but I don’t think that necessarily matters. I think it’s more about what’s the quality of that success. What are we building that supports each other. And we we have, we have fun together, we can share the things that are scary to us the challenges that we go through, we can do it all instead of having to just be focused on just be business like,
Al Elliott 23:35
this seems to be a certainly on Tiktok, Instagram, that kind of thing. People talking about snowflakes. And from what I understand the definition, snowflake is potentially someone who is saying, Oh, I’m burnt out or I can’t cope with this, or I need a few weeks off. How does your book deal with the potential labelling of someone who’s saying I’m in trouble? And then they boss going, you’re just a snowflake? Get on with it?
Jim Young 23:59
Yeah, that’s a tough approach to take. I guess what I try to invoke is empathy and compassion that we actually take a step back from, what’s the circumstance going on, that somebody is so upset that a person who’s struggling is saying I need to take a couple of weeks off or whatever the situation is? And to actually say, what would it be like? What’s going on for that person? Why would somebody take such a drastic step is to come in and say, I need to step away from my job when I know that the stakes are perceived as high. And to really look at what are what are all the stakes, and can I be with that person and say, oh, okay, tell me tell me what’s happening here. I mean, that’s the approach. I think it’s radically different than the modern business world that has demands for stakeholders and quarterly reports and all of that. And it’s not to say that taking that alternate approach isn’t uncomfortable doesn’t have a short term hit on some of those immediate results. Because if we slow things down to connect with the people in our organisations, the project might slow down. But do we take care of that person? Do we improve our retention rates? Do we make it easier to attract talent? Do we, in the long term, build a fabric where we have teams that are more flexible that can get things done better? I think so.
Al Elliott 25:26
So tell me so I can properly understand you, the man who I’m talking to you right now, you’ve given us a little bit of backstory about burnout. But what’s the real reason why burnout is just your passion and what you’re dedicating your life to.
Jim Young 25:45
I’ve been coming to this realisation over the last few months, that my work is not actually about burnout, that my work is actually about intimacy that has people in this modern society that’s so fast, and so distributed and so disconnected in so many ways, we’ve lost some essential parts of what makes life so rich. And burnout is a condition that I went through, that got me to intimacy. Intimacy is how I got beyond my days of burnout, my years of burnout. By investing in intimate relationships across every area of my life, I started to free up the space where I couldn’t burn out anymore. And so I know that that is, it’s a it’s not even just our species, that craves connection that is wired for connection, it’s part of all life. And when we are so cut off from each other, when we’re isolated, we burn out, we can’t sustain ourselves when we don’t have social support. Study after study proves that out. So that’s really, like deep within me is I want connection, I was a lonely, shy kid. Right? It comes from there. I didn’t know how to connect with people in the world, it took me a long time to figure that out. And I know a lot of people struggle with that. And I know a lot of men in particular, are told, Don’t show your emotional side. And that’s where we connect from. That’s how we build intimacy is by revealing our emotional reality. So for me, I see so much pain and suffering for men. And it’s unnecessary. And it’s it’s there’s pain and suffering for everyone. I can speak to the male condition. So that’s what I choose to do.
Al Elliott 27:34
Totally agree with the I was I was lonely, awkward child. And, you know, and the number of times that people just say, Oh, just man up. You know, I don’t know what that means. And I don’t know how to do it. So tell me if you What would you like to see leaders and managers doing to help prevent or even recognise burnout?
Jim Young 27:56
First thing is talking about it? Absolutely. The first thing I want them to be talking about is what’s going on for me? Am I am I experiencing it? What’s going on in our organisation? letting it be known that this is something we can talk about normalising that this is real. There’s so many studies out there, some of them I think, are overblown. Deloitte had a study that said 78% of workers were burned out. I don’t think it’s that dire. But I do look at studies that show 35 38% of people being burned out. It’s a normal thing. Right? Let’s stop the stigma around the fact that our current work cultures create conditions that aren’t healthy for everyone. After norm, you know, beyond normalising it’s then actually modelling what would it be like to be different? I’m not going to require people to respond to emails on the weekend, I’m not going to send emails myself outside of work hours, really simple but profound impact when a leader either does or doesn’t message the team at 10 o’clock at night. If that’s the way to get ahead, I’m responding that 1002 And I’ll be pissed if somebody responded at 1001. Right? So modelling behaviour, having those conversations to normalise it. And then understanding what do we need to then do? How do we need to shift the culture? How do we make it so that we have a workplace where we can meet our goals, we can still achieve the business objectives that we’ve set out to fulfil the mission that we have? How can we do it in a way that our people are first.
Al Elliott 29:36
So if we go back, say 15 years then sort of our peer groups would tend to be for men might be people who you play sports with, you go to the pub with you work with etc. So our influence our peer group was relatively small, you know, we might only have sort of 20 I mean, what there is that famous joke about the most the least believable thing about the Bible is a man in his 30s has got 12 close friends, which I always, always makes me chuckle but I think My question is around. So that was our influence was our friends. Now, we’re influenced by social media where there are not only 1000s More people who we probably experienced this on a day, but people who, who have been given attributed this status of like, I’m using one particular guy who, personally I cannot stand a guy called Andrew Tate, you may not know him, British MMA fighter who has been banned from Instagram for misogynistic comments and stuff, but he has such a following. So what are we going to do about this whole social media thing where our influences coming from not just our social, not just our peers, but everyone in the world? As someone who can shout loudest?
Jim Young 30:38
I wish I had a good answer for that one, that’s a that’s a genie that’s out of the bottle and a lot of ways. You know, I would say, Follow Patty, another MMA fighter who had a I don’t know what his last name is. But there was a viral video of his where he talked about he had a mate who had committed suicide, the week before a big match that he had, at the end of the match. He was given the microphone to say a couple of words, and he’s decided to speak about how lonely men are and how you know how tragic it was, and how he wished that his friend had just reached out to him and talked. And so I don’t know, I try to avoid social media. For the most part, I spent a little bit of time on a couple of the common platforms, I’m on LinkedIn a lot, because I like the discourse there. And I think it’s recognising there’s great information to be had there, I get exposure to so many different ideas. And I’m, I find plenty of time to be on media, one to one with people, I have probably four conversations a week with different people who I either have long standing relationships with, or I’m just getting to know, this afternoon, I have a, I have a call with seven men that we meet once a month on Zoom for 90 minutes, and we just talk about whatever. And oftentimes, it’s really profound. It’s about our sex lives, it’s about money. It’s about, you know, anything. And, and I think, taking the risk, to say, hey, I’m interested in this person, I want to talk to them, I want to establish a relationship. Go ahead and keep using technology, we’re gonna do it. But how do you make conscious choices of? Am I going down rabbit holes on social media? Or am I actually connecting with another human being in a conversation? I don’t have. I have a lot of friends. I don’t. I have a bunch of friends that I’ve never met. But they’re amazing friends. I’ve talked with them about things that I’ve never even talked with my dad about. It’s a whole other story.
Al Elliott 32:41
When you’re writing, when most people write books, they seem to have like an ideal reader in their mind when when they’re writing their book, can you describe who would be the ideal person who should go out there and buy your book right now?
Jim Young 32:54
Yeah, he owns a business that he probably founded. And that business has grown to a point that he’s feeling really successful in the traditional way. And yet, it’s consuming him, he doesn’t get enough time with his kids, his spouse is probably saying, hey, I want more from you. And he’s probably also starting to run into some challenges in the business because his burnout is now contagious, and it’s affecting the other people that he works for. And he’s starting to see that he’s plateaued in the business. So it’s, it’s this place of like, I got really successful, and oh, shit, it’s not that successful. I don’t have all the things that I wanted. I’m not actually living the dream.
Al Elliott 33:36
It’s funny you say that? Do you feel that sometimes with particularly with men that you have to go and buy the boat, you have to go and buy the new BMW to prove that you’re successful to other men?
Jim Young 33:48
Yeah, yeah, I think so. And then I think eventually, we get to that point of diminishing returns where we realise like, I can’t get a fancy enough car because somebody else just got the Maserati. Right, it’s like that, that Race to the Top is a fallacy. There is no top. It just keeps climbing. And so we’re always going to find ourselves wanting more. And eventually, we realise like, this is too much like I’m putting in so much effort for status. And I don’t have friends anymore. My relationship with my wife is isn’t good. I don’t know my kids. You know, my colleagues or, you know, don’t enjoy it. Like, it’s the relationships, it’s the intimacy in our lives that ultimately defines our success.
Al Elliott 34:34
Yeah, there’s always someone with the biggest cigar isn’t whether that’s Sigmund Freud. So before, I’ve just got one more question after this, so you wrote an article, which you called the F word about a year ago. Do you remember it? Yeah, yeah. Something resonated with me. Tell me more about that.
Jim Young 34:56
Yeah, the F word that I think we don’t know. I consider it to be dangerous is fine. And fine. Hey, buddy, how you doing? I’m fine. Except you see the delivery of it right? You watch the energy behind. When that guy says to you, I’m fine. And you realise it’s not fine. Then what do you do? Do you actually say No, really? How are you? And I’ve really started to take to that question when somebody asked me how you’re doing, and I’ve been practising this for for a while now is answering honestly, and sometimes I catch myself answering, I’m fine. And then I realised, hold on, we’ll give you the real answer. And it’s a huge step towards vulnerability. It’s that revealing of you know what, I’m not fine. And it’s totally feeds into what I write about in the book around shame, which was not a topic I expected to explore in the book. But I realised like, that’s the undercurrent, that’s what’s keeping that putting men in burnout, keeping them there and holding them back from intimacy. And I’m fine is one of the code words that we use to hide our hide whatever we like, feel shame about.
Al Elliott 36:04
Just as a quick aside, my business partner and I are also like best mates, which causes all kinds of problems. But we have a, there’s a bit in Pulp Fiction, I’d have the you’ve seen the film a bit where we’re having rooms in the back with Butch and Zed. And so and so then Bruce Willis says, are you okay? And he goes, I’m pretty fucking far from okay. And that’s, that’s fine. But I think I’m quite often I will, if I text Chris, he’s having a bad day. I’ll say, okay, you know, go I’m pretty fucking far from okay. And that’s our way of saying it’s been a shit day without having to say,
Jim Young 36:39
yeah, yeah, that’s, that’s awesome. Like finding the ways that we can get away from I’m fine. And until what’s real, and eventually, when we get into a relationship with somebody where we’ve shared enough, we open up the aperture. And we can be like, Dude, I am crushed. Today, I am grieving. Whatever it is. And now it’s like, I don’t have to hold that I got to share it. Oftentimes, it’s all we need is just the release and somebody else to hear it and know. Like, yeah, I’m thinking of you, buddy. Cool. I feel better.
Al Elliott 37:10
Is there any question that I should have asked you that? I haven’t?
Jim Young 37:14
Yeah. It would be about what, what I’ve done outside of my work life, the traditional professional career that has helped me through burnout. And so that’s the question, I’ll go ahead and answer it. Improv comedy. And that’s one form of combining risk taking and creativity. So it’s not that it’s a prescription that if you’re burned out, you should go take an improv comedy class, and then keep doing those for years and end up being on stage and do shows. And that’s, that’s what I did. And it’s been tremendous. But the key was, I got into a place where I could take risks, about things that mattered, which is communication relationship with other people. And I started to learn all these new skills that were fun, and creative, and brought me joy in my life, and also had some gravity to them. Like I had to deal with anxiety and fear, and all the things that come up when we take creative risks. So I would just encourage for you to really paint a full colour picture of the life that we get to lead. Where are you finding creative risk taking in your life, whether it’s improv comedy playing in a rock band, you know, being in your woodshop building stuff, like there’s all sorts of ways to do it. So I just I think that’s something that adds a little bit more texture to the conversation.
Al Elliott 38:49
I love it. And I suppose I watch a lot of comedians and love it. And I think that it gives you the stage literal and figurative stage to be able to say things that are serious without actually the book going, Oh, shit, are you okay? You know, kind of things and right.
Jim Young 39:04
Yeah. And as I learned it from my first improv teacher, we play through a thin veil, that character of mine that comes up on screen and feels awkward and anxious. That’s probably me. Right? The audience thinks it’s fun, and we’re making fun with it. But there’s some truth in it.
Al Elliott 39:23
Absolutely. Jim, you’ve been absolutely fantastic. I’ve learned lots. I am definitely going on Amazon and buying your book as soon as we get off. Yet we’ll, you know, you’ve just given us so much, I think so much to talk about and so much to talk around. And I’m just so grateful. So thank you so much. Really appreciate it.
Jim Young 39:42
Yeah, thank you. I love what you’re doing. When I saw the name, truth, lies and workplace culture. I said, Oh, this is going to be exciting and fun conversation. And it’s it’s been that and more so thank you.
Leanne Elliott 39:55
I think Al and Jim has given us a lot to reflect on there. And if you’ll indulge me for a few more minutes at a site share some of some of mine.
I wonder sometimes whether we’re so concerned with our own agendas that we’re isolating others, potentially villainizing others, middle aged men today are really in this strange place between two very different generations, the pre war, silent, strong type and the post war, open, honest, progressive generation, and on top of this middle aged men, or middle aged, it is a time for everyone, when you know the way the impact of our previous decisions really reveal themselves, and making any change at this point can come at really high cost financially, socially, there’s not always that time to recover. That means that people feel trapped under the choices they’ve made earlier, the choices they have available to them now, and that’s what seriously compromises mental health. This conversation has also helped me reflect on the question, Am I playing an active role in reinforcing gender stereotypes and social expectations of what it means in inverted commas? To be a mum, listening to this conversation between Alan Jim really gave me a refreshed perspective, in terms of the social and psychological pressures that he is under. And I’m not sure ever really understood how much I unconsciously rely on him to be tough. And while I do feel a renewed sense of gratitude for him serving that role for me, clearly, I’m motivated to do better in Holding, holding space for him to use our words, be very far from okay. For me, this conversation was a really timely reminder of what we can do and how we can better support the men in our lives. It’s okay to not be okay. If you’d like more information or support based on this week’s episode, please do check out all of the information and links in the show notes. To talk you through them. First of all, our incredible guest Jim Young, you’ll be able to find him on LinkedIn at the centred coach. Jim’s book is called expansive intimacy, how tough guys defeat burnout. And we will leave a link to both Jim’s LinkedIn and his book in the show notes. I’ll also mention that a comedian called Rob Delaney who wrote a really powerful book called heart that works about his experiences losing his son, Rob Delaney has also done some incredibly open and honest interview, so I definitely consider checking that out again, we’ll leave a link in the show notes. Jim was also very generous to share some other resources with us. As you would have heard, he is a huge proponent of close community, especially men’s groups. A few resources that he recommends for those who want to share deep meaningful bonds with a community of men. He recommend organisations such as every man and the man that can project for men who are feeling isolated in their business lives here suggest organisations like yp, oh, and Vistage. There are also many dedicated coaches who offer men’s group experiences including Jamie Robbins in the UK, Ken Mosman in the US, and of course, Jim himself, we will leave all the links to those resources in the show notes. If you’re in the UK, you can also check out the Men’s Health Forum, which offers information services and treatments for men experiencing mental health challenges will also leave a link to the men and boys coalition. That’s a network of organisations academics, journalists, professionals and leaders that are committed to highlighting and taking action on gender specific issues affect men and boys. There’s also the black men’s consortium which is dedicated to improving black men’s mental health. There’s also some information for a couple of talking services in the show notes. The first is called the mankind initiative. This is support for specifically for males who are victims of domestic abuse, and secondly, the Samaritans if you are feeling in distress or despair, including suicidal feelings, please consider giving them a call. We will leave both telephone numbers in the show notes. Thank you so much for listening and holding a safe space for this very important conversation. Alan, I will be back next week on the truth lies and workplace culture podcast. please do consider subscribing, leaving a review and getting in touch. We’ll see you next week.
Join 20,000 listeners every month who get expert insights on building amazing workplace cultures!