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Autumn Talk with Dan Stanley of BetterMen
OCTOBER is here, the month the clocks go back, Halloween turns up and its dark nights and dark mornings. Yet what is the business landscape like this moth – we talk to business owners every week about their stories. Today it’s the turn of Dan Stanley of BetterMen. Dan is a coach who partners with professionally successful men who may feel a sense of uncertainty or frustration in their lives. Dan supports his clients by improving their work-life balance and re-igniting their sense of self and purpose. Dan is based in South Wales but can work remotely on Zoom and has had clients all over the world.
What’s coming up for your business/organisation in Q4?
In Q4 I’m promoting my newly published book, Rethinking Masculinity: A modern man’s guide to succeeding in life. The paperback went straight into the book charts as an Amazon bestseller; it’s available in Waterstones and Barnes & Noble. In it, I shine a bright light on the dysfunction of modern-day masculinity and the top five challenges affecting professionally successful men: workaholism, loneliness, poor mental health, midlife crisis and divorce.
My research and writing cemented my belief that as a gender, we’re falling into traps of our own making. Too many men, perhaps even those reading this have been conditioned to believe what I call ‘the myth of masculinity’ - the belief that professional successes are the key to personal happiness.
The result, collectively, is that many men are sacrificing their health, happiness, friendships, and relationships in the pursuit of professional success. It’s a deliberately challenging and provocative read, one that invites men to question their trajectory. It’s a guide for any man who has experienced a setback, finds himself stagnant in life, fears his best years are behind him or is secretly questioning 'is this it?'
Note: It’s also a useful read for any woman who loves or leads men. It’s an insight into the masculine conditioning we experience and how, in turn, that creates the men we become.
This is a month for harvest and Halloween? Are either of these important for you in your business or organisation?
Halloween is yes. The enthusiasm for Halloween has crossed the Atlantic and crept steadily into the tapestry of ‘our’ British culture, it has become gradually more important, both for myself as a father of 5- and 3-year-olds and for my clients.
Halloween, particularly for those families with younger children, now provides an opportunity for family togetherness and fun. I encourage my clients to make a concerted effort to block out and protect their diaries around Halloween to share the experience and make memories with their loved ones.
October represents several awareness months, are there any that are relevant to your business?
October 10th was World Mental Health Day. Globally, it’s an opportunity to recognise and bring much needed attention to both the personal and socioeconomic challenges that poor mental health create.
By 2030, the World Health Organisation predicts that depression will be the single biggest cause of ill health across the world. It’s a startling statistic, one that can no longer be ignored.
Like physical health, we all have mental health. In the wake of the pandemic and the predicted financial austerity, raising awareness, reducing stigma, and normalising the conversations around poor mental health have never been so important. Especially so amongst my client base. The biggest killer of men under 50 is suicide.
What practical activities do you participate in at home or at work to protect your mental health?
In 2017, I experienced a midlife crisis. The adversity I experienced was a catalyst, both for my coaching business and how I live my life: with intention and as a leader of myself.
I choose to be proactive around my mental health; it helps me to manage my mind, be present with my family, appreciate the richness of my life and feel connected to those I love and value.
Typically, as part of my structured but flexible weekly routine I run three times and go to two circuit classes. I invest in my health and doing so tops me up and gives me energy.
My wife and I have one ‘tech’ free night per week where we talk, connect, or use the hot tub and I have two Monday to Friday, non-negotiables, things I do each day: read for 30 minutes and take a 20-minute lunch break.
A key principle of my coaching is ‘making life happen’ instead of letting life happen. I believe in walking my talk.
Clocks go back this month – an extra hour in bed? How do you feel about the darker nights etc?
For me, it’s less about the darkness and more about overall effect of winter. It took me a number of years to accept and own that the weather, particularly the winter months, can affect my mood. Although never medically diagnosed, I feel I experience slight symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder, also known as the winter blues.
Now that I have leaned into my experience, accepted, and owned it, it’s no longer an issue. My weekly routine, as I described above, keeps me present and focussed; I bring extra awareness to my diet and aim not to overindulge in high carb based foods.
One thing I do do in the winter months is to set physical challenges or enter outdoor events. This year, I’ll be on the start line for a 36 mile, coastal, ultra-marathon. The challenge invites me to live better, be even more intentional around how I spend my time, effort and energy and role model positive traits for me children.
Have you got any other news you’d you’d like to shout about?
I have two things I’d love to shout about!
Firstly, my book has been endorsed by leaders of business and sport and described as ‘thought-provoking and compelling’, ‘a must read for men everywhere’. The foreword is written by Phil Davies, the Director of World Rugby Union and a coaching client.
If anyone would like to pick up a free copy, just covering the postage, then head to my website: www.better-men.uk and look for the tab, Rethinking Masculinity. For a digital copy, Kindle etc, please head to Amazon.
Secondly, outside of my client work, I lead a monthly men’s walking group. We’re called Men & Mountains. There’s around 300 members from across the UK. There’s no cost or commitment and the concept is simple. It’s about once per month, taking some time out, getting outdoors with other good quality, likeminded men and having a walk and talk.
If you have a set of boots, a waterproof jacket, reasonable fitness and are interested in joining us, register your interest your interest through my website.
And finally, tell us one thing you love about the autumn/winter months?
There’s one thing I love that’s tough but got to be done and that’s being out early morning on the Gower Peninsula, on a beach or running on a trail and catching a sunrise – with no one else in sight. It feels like I have the world to myself; sometimes I just stop and let it soak in. It’s my tonic.
You can find out more about Dan Stanley and BetterMen by heading to www.better-men.uk
Weather in Swindon