In The Huddle: Empowerment for men

Mike McGee | 9/6/2018, 10:45 a.m.
Chris Howell said he believes that to become a fully developed Black man in today’s society, it requires a multifaceted ...
Chris Howell speaks with author and former Green Bay Packer Jay Barnett about the importance of men’s mental health during the In The Huddle male empowerment event at The Renaissance Dallas Hotel, Aug. 25. Photo by Mike McGee

“An older gentleman, who’s 56, brought in a younger man who’s about to be the first in his family to graduate from high school and the first to then graduate and go on to college,” was one example he provided.

Howell noted that expert speakers, such as colorectal surgeon Dr. Paul Hackett, Wende Burton of Communities Foundation of Texas, and author and former Green Bay Packer Jay Barnett, provided guidance on various aspects of manhood rather than Howell trying to take center stage in solving all problems.

“Oh, absolutely not,” he remarked, laughing. “In fact, I’m going to get my butt in there and listen because I understand. No, it’s not about me but it’s really about making sure that we, as men, get the tools that we need to be able to successfully live our lives.”

Back inside the ballroom, Franklin, a certified coach, teacher and speaker with the John Maxwell Team, expounded to the near-capacity audience the value of power and its manifestations.

“We have to be able to find a way to accept constructive feedback to be an effective leader,” he said. “Understand that once you allow yourself to be offended you made a decision to become offended. You chose to be offended. And when you accept that there are some areas in your life that likely need work, when that person delivering that information to you, then that person becomes powerful,” Franklin explained.

“For once you get offended, this person giving you feedback – whether you realize it or not – you have just relinquished all of your power to that person.”

The speaker offered instead that an attribute of leadership is not challenge, but compromise.

“So by definition, compromise is to make concessions or accommodations for someone who does not agree with you,” he continued. He described compromise as an acquired skill that was even difficult to master himself when it came to disagreements.

“And men always want to win. Who wants to win?” Franklin asked. Almost every hand in the room rose in response.

The principal of winning at all costs that men often burden themselves with can risk relationships and was a poor approach to conflict, he admitted. “Compromise… helps us practice grace. And grace teaches us how to love, how to be patient, how to be kind. And here’s the most important one: how to forgive.” As long as a man did not compromise his standards, the coach voiced, it was not a trait of weakness but rather strength, and an indication of growth within an individual.

It was the type of growth that Aaron Richardson the high school graduate-turned-college-student eagerly wanted to learn more about.

“Today was basically learning about how to become a man. I’m 18 years old, so I’m now going into that man-ship of becoming somebody that, in the future, will be a provider and be a supporter as well,” he said as he pondered the life he envisioned for himself and those near to him after he graduated from the University of Arizona.

“I want to take all the information even now, so I won’t have any big struggles in my future,” he continued.

During the close of the event, the founder confirmed that similar male empowerment gatherings were in the planning stages. Howell voiced the hope to develop another Huddle in October and continue them every three or four months on a regular basis.