There are a number of groups and solutions for women in midlife, but very few for men. Men are a rather tough nut when it comes to moving forward in one’s midlife development and beyond. I had the opportunity to participate in The Genius Room, which is the heart of Craig’s Purpose Mapping process, and found the experience truly incredible.
The 1-page Purpose Mapping document I created in that mini-workshop is prominent on my phone. I refer to it all the time to help me make decisions — essentially a chart of who I am, what I am good at, and what I need to stay away from. Hugely helpful. We will be featuring Craig and his thoughts on midlife men, their issues, and proven solutions for the next few weeks.
What is your background?
Adopted at birth and raised outside Chicago. My father was a CPA, CFO and investor. My mother was a teacher with academic friends. My godfather toasted every holiday dinner with Joseph Campbell’s injunction to “Follow your Bliss!” and I guess I took that to heart.
For better or worse, I chose the rocky path of the artist, philosopher, rebel. Honestly, I’ve failed at more things than most men dare dream of starting in a lifetime. A couple businesses succeeded and continue to do quite well. But they all served me in some way — even if only to show me what’s inauthentic for me and send me in search of my true authentic contribution.
That series of failures revealed my character, resilience, and rewarded me with humility. Ultimately, it led me to the work I do now — with an ability to relate to men from all walks of life. Tough road, but grateful for who I’ve become and how I am able to serve.
Why are you doing this work?
Midlife transitions are a remarkable right of passage.
With 30 years of Men’s Work under my belt, I understand the way men are hardwired for initiation experiences.
Looking back, I observed my father’s super-successful friends hitting their midlife transitions. Some went well. Some went poorly. None of them went quietly. With the mix of academics and executives around every holiday meal, I came to see men’s midlife transitions through the lens of the Hero’s Journey. It left a real impression on me. After my daughter launched, I traveled for 3 years. It was a way of holding my own midlife transition in the container of continual change so I could let go and make room for what’s next.
“The work I do now is about guiding men’s midlife transitions so they don’t become midlife catastrophes”
The work I do now is about guiding men’s midlife transitions so they don’t become midlife catastrophes. I’ve never felt more focused, fulfilled, or had more fun. Clearly, this is what life wants next for me.
What sort of issues do men come up against that they can’t seem to think their way out of on their own?
Another Campbell quote: “You must give up the life you planned in order to have the life that is waiting for you.”
Younger men succeed on rationality and hustle. Midlife asks men to live in the world in a new way. Open to magic, the delightfully unexpected… flow. You can’t think your way into lasting fulfillment. It can only be received.
Women seem to have an easier time letting go. Men… we’re different. Letting go often requires an overwhelming challenge. Life provides.
In 35 years I’ve seen a pattern of breakdown in the core aspects of a man’s life: health, wealth, love & identity. When we resist this very natural process of breakdown, it gets ugly. I wish men had a better map for midlife transitions so fewer experience midlife catastrophes.
Do these issues cause conflict with their relationships?
Sadly, yes. These breakdowns can put tremendous strain on a man, which strains his relationship. If he resists or collapses this is often the beginning of the end.
A wise man will seek insight, guidance and support. Unfortunately, most men adopt a false stoicism. They muddle through, repress their emotions, and resist the process… which is equivalent to to resisting puberty.
“I’ve known very good, solid men — providers, protectors, real bad-asses — totally crumble under the weight of midlife”
I’ve known very good, solid men — providers, protectors, real bad-asses — totally crumble under the weight of midlife. Their women leave them when it gets too painful. We have no maps or role models for how to pull it through.
But, divorce is not necessary. Women are incredibly forgiving and champion a man they see or sense doing his inner work. But there’s a trick: Men Need Men. That’s the heart of what we provide.
Women can’t (and shouldn’t be asked to) hold a man through this. He needs men for that. And for most men, that’s a real steep lift. Drinking buddies and yakking about sports won’t get the job done. It’s time for new tools, new maps and often new connections.
The unavoidable midlife breakdown requires a different kind of strength (vulnerability), a different kind of capacity (inner work vs career work), and a different kind of courage (a willingness to slow down and be in the process).
What sort of men would be best served by your program?
Successful men want to wake up feeling excited and end their days feeling energized — doing purposeful work, making great money, and creating a meaningful impact.
Sadly, most men who reach the peak of “Success Mountain” lose their spark. Their drive. Their dopamine. After climbing so hard for so many years it can be devastating.
When successful men get fed up with feeling bored, empty, frustrated… wondering, “What’s Next?” we help them face their midlife transition head-on and create a new sense of clarity, purpose and a path to lasting fulfillment in the second half of their lives.
However, we’re incredibly selective about who we’re willing to work with. You could describe our best clients as “high-achieving misfits in transition.” They didn’t take the beaten path. Even if they had a very run-of-the-mill career, there’s something eclectic about them, even eccentric. They want the best for themselves and their families and they enjoy finding interesting and counterintuitive paths to extraordinary results.
Men like that are right at home in our process. Men who are ready to step outside their box can also do well. But men who just want to control things struggle. That’s part of why we’re so selective. We want everyone we serve to have an incredible, life-affirming experience that puts their authenticity front and center in their lives, for the rest of their lives.
What is the structure of the program?
Purpose Mapping is a series of ten, 90-minute mini-workshops, each delivered by a world-class expert. Together, these ten steps create a true Hero’s Journey adventure of self-discovery and transformation.
We’ve developed a custom, online dashboard to guide men through the process of preparing for each workshop (about an hour of reading & reflection) and capturing the exciting insights and self-discoveries they find each step of the way.
Most men complete their Journey in 3 to 6 months, but some take longer. We support that. Everything we do is tailored to the individual. Whatever a man needs, we fully support. For the first time in his life, he’s truly in control of his destiny.
Could you give us a few success stories?
We work with a lot of prestigious men and we provide total confidentiality, but here are two I feel we can safely share:
The head of an international film festival is pivoting his business model to mentor up & coming actors, directors, producers in his global ecosystem. Under his guidance and protection from the “sharks,” he’s already seeing extraordinary new films with world-changing content.
A father of 7 who built and sold 4 clinics came to us spinning his wheels. He wanted a legacy project aligned with his values, talents and passion. Through the process he realized he was playing too small a game. Now he’s redeploying his resources from small investments in local real estate to major syndications through his network and he’s on fire again for life and the legacy he wants to create for his sizable family.
Many men burst into a very spontaneous life after decades of “turning the crank” to be good husbands and providers. They discover a whole new lease on life when they drop the weight of expectations they were saddled with in childhood. Each man’s Journey is unique as his fingerprint, but they all end up inspired and full of enthusiasm for the next half of life.
There is a meaningful financial and time commitment involved. What is the guarantee that Purpose Mapping will be effective?
If a man completes his Journey and isn’t delighted with his results, we’ll happily refund every penny. In 8 years, we’ve never once been asked for a refund. In fact, every man who completes his Journey is blown away by the results.
Craig Filek is serial entrepreneur with 29 years of Men’s Work training, his leadership & facilitation skills were forged in the fire of empathic intuition with an eye for empowerment & flow. Billionaires, executives, founders & innovative teams around the world seek Craig’s guidance when making life-changing decisions.