Wednesday, March 28, 2018

A Brother Asks: Quantity or Quality?

A Brother Asks: Coach, should we be more interested in quantity or quality?

Coach: Good question!  Let's first put something out on the table that needs to be understood in light of the nature of organizations.  There's a serious survival versus thriving game that has to be both understood and played out by every lodge.  That game is first focused upon making sure there are enough bodies in the Lodge organization to accomplish all the tasks necessary to keep the doors open. 

In that vein, there is a specific base line number of members that has to be available for this to occur.  Once that base line is met though, if the lodge doesn't focus upon improving quality, not just numbers, then they will continually be focusing upon quantity just to survive.  Far too many lodges are caught upon in the survival aspect of lodge management to clear the base line numbers necessary to even start focusing on quality.  Some never get past it.  Some do but continue to focus on numbers and never bring quality into their focus.

Brother: I had not thought of it this way?

Coach: Many members don't.  They came up through survival mode lodges and never experienced lodges that are in thriving mode.

Brother: I see that happening all too often.

Coach: Exactly! That being said, I'm never impressed by the quantity of men who show up. I am always impressed by the quality of the men showing up. Their quality tells me what kind of lodge experience that can be expected.  I believe all good men are impressed in this way.  When a lodge is thriving, it also tells me the right men are attracted to what is offered.

Brother: So, what's the problem?

Coach: It's a cascade of problems.  The first thing that gets in the way is our lodges being dominated by men who selectively ignore the very things that bring about quality men.  That leads us to the central problem:  Very few members are actually doing the Work that ritual directs them to do in improve themselves.  Ignoring the Work and not doing the Work are innovations to the Craft.  These collective undesirable innovations rule lodge activities in covert ways that undermine the very ideas that founded this society - making good men better. 

Brother: Innovations?

Coach: Yes.  Innovations.  The support staff is going through the motions but they are not practicing what they preach and they are not supporting what needs to be done to improve our members.  These are innovations and contrary to the very essence of our Craft's "being true to one's word". 

Brother: So, they're not walking the talk? They are not abiding by their obligations.

Coach: Exactly!  But let's get into that a little...  which obligations?

Brother: The ones that focuses upon not wronging, cheating or defrauding.

Coach: So how is ignoring the Work that ritual directs us to do and not supporting doing this Work wronging, cheating and defrauding?

Brother: When members don't do the Work that ritual directs them to do, they don't get the benefits that such Work provides.  They don't improve.  The don't get better.  They are wronged, cheated and defrauded out of the value they would have received had they done the Work.  What's more, when they are in charge, they progress other members who likewise don't follow suit in doing the Work ritual directs them to do and are likewise wronged, cheated and defrauded as a result. 

Coach: Yes.  We have countless generations of members who have no clue that being Masterful and being a titled Master are two entirely different things.  Each has been wronged, cheated and defrauded and, when they get involved in progressing candidates, they support the same for their Brothers.

Brother: What do we do about it?

Coach: To attract the kind of men the Fraternity needs to transform good men to better men, our lodges must show signs of Masonic Life, not just Freemasonic Activities designed to keep the doors open.  Brothers must demonstrate Masonry in our everyday living and be an example of what transformation is possible.
These quality men in turn shall Attract the Attention and Support of Good quality men and bring the fraternity from just surviving to thriving.

Here are questions for you to perpend:  Are you a member of a lodge that's in constant survival mode, or is it thriving and for all the right reasons?  How do you tell the difference?


Brother John S Nagy

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

A Brother Asks: Losing EAs

A Brother Asks: What do you feel contributes the most to a new candidate not continuing his Masonic journey after receiving his EA?

Coach:  Simply put, the most contributing factor is "disenchantment". 

Brother: What contributes to this disenchantment? 

Coach: Several things. Let's put aside the obvious balls being dropped by the Lodge itself* and discuss the typical things that candidates should not ever be exposed to. 

Brother: Okay.  Let's get into it.

Coach: Sure. Candidates become disenchanted and quickly lose interest when...
  1. ...what is offered is not what they originally wanted or joined for. 
  2. ...they expected totally different activities involving personal growth and not just memorizing things that are not understood, explained or well-justified by those doing the training.
  3. ...the social interactions, offerings and opportunities are not what they want to engage in.
  4. ...they are disinterested in or turned off by who is involved.
  5. ...they were needlessly embarrassed by the immaturity of too many schoolboy antics put forth under the guise of "fraternity" and "brotherhood".
  6. and indoctrination is continually offered masquerading as education, mentoring and/or coaching.
  7. ...their other interests compel them to discontinue.
  8. ...abrasive personalities and biasing that reflects intolerance are ever present.
  9. ...too much organizational support stuff and no true personal development is the lodge's focus.
  10. ...they realize all too soon that those running the machine don't know that they are running a machine or that they are not truly initiating anyone.
Unless something else is keeping the interest of these disenchanted candidates, they soon pull the plug and vote with their feet.

Brother: How do you change any of this? 

Coach: Great question!  Here are a few things to consider:

  1. Before they petition, find out what they want from the organization and what they want to join for. 
  2. Make sure those members who are doing the memorization training understand it, can explain and justify it well, and can do so in such a way that it has absolute relevance to the personal and professional growth of the candidate.
  3. Before they petition, make sure that the lodge social interactions, offerings and opportunities are what they want to engage in.
  4. Before they petition, make sure they are interested in and not turned off by who is involved within the lodge.
  5. Make sure they were not needlessly embarrassed by any schoolboy antics put forth under the guise of "fraternity" and "brotherhood".
  6. Make sure training and indoctrination is not masquerading as education, mentoring and/or coaching.
  7. Before they petition, make sure they have time to allocate toward lodge activities they would be interested in.
  8. Make sure any abrasive personalities and biasing that reflects intolerance are eliminated from the lodge before they even approach the lodge to petition.
  9. Make sure they don't get pulled into too many organizational support activities and are provided support for the personal development activities pointed toward by ritual.
  10. Make sure the lodge is not so busy running the machine that they forget they have a paying customer who deserves to be treated as an authentic initiate and apprentice to the Craft.
Each and every one of these items contributes towards Candidates getting their needs met and each supports them receiving what initiates should be receiving from an organization that professes to make good men better.


Bro. John S Nagy
*and this does occur when the lodge either does not have a process in place to keep candidates fully engaged in their progression or the individuals in charge do not follow through on what they should be following through on should there actually be a process to follow.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

A Brother Asks: How to "Manage" a Scared Wife?

A Brother Asks*:  Coach, I come from a long line of Freemasons. I wish to take my Masonic career further and believe that my wife needs to be on board with it. Unfortunately, my now wife has withdrawn her support of my furthering my Craft involvement, due to some conspiracy web site's claims that the Craft is a "marriage wrecking ball".  Coach!  Conspiracy theories have got the better of her and her curiosity has driven her to the darkest corners of the internet, and lack of Craft support is the end result. What can I do about it?

Coach:  Have you tried talking with her about the nonsense and rubbish on the web designed to deliberately create fear?

Brother: Yes.  I've read this material and tried to talk her through it, but alas, she's under the impression that the Craft is a sinister organization that's hiding all sorts of dark secrets and practices. What's worse, despite my best efforts she won't allow me to show her the truth of the matter. She's taken a hard line position.  She refuses to attend any functions.  She refuses to speak with other masons. She's also convinced it changes people for the worse. She pointed out that one member who was raised around the same time I was had a nervous breakdown.  I tried to tell her that this was from the constant finger pointing that goes on in every conspiracy theory circle, but that only made things worse.  "It's always the masons to blame!" she said! It's got her worried sick and me backed into a corner.
Coach: Unfortunately, this does happen and it usually occurs when a person is fear based, misinformed and desires to enjoy the benefits brought about by all those individuals who will step in line to rescue and support that person's need to be fearful.  In other words, fear is used by individuals who want to control others who desire to fix fears that cannot be fixed by any legitimate outside source, including the people trying to help!  It's an inside out job!  It's an insane strategy though and it is employed very effectively upon unsuspecting and na├»ve individuals to control them and pull them into games that support further control.

Brother: If I have to choose between her and the craft of course she'll win.

Coach: Good!  As it should be.

Brother: Clearly I can't give up on my wife but I'd hate to have to turn my back on my family legacy. 

Coach: Well understood too!

Brother: She's said she's ok with me staying in the blue lodge but said it would break her heart if I went further. I wish to follow my father and his before him but I risk breaking her heart and I can't do that.   Coach!  I'm clutching at straws here but I was wondering if anyone you know has had a similar experience? If so how did you manage it? 

Coach:  (DISCLAIMER: I am not a licensed counselor or a mental health professional!  Keep this in mind as you read further.) First off, you are not alone in your struggle.  You're involved in a game that played in many relationships. 

Brother: It is?

Coach: Yes. It is.  That being said, you may not want to read this. Be prepared for major bluntness... and brace yourself:

There are bigger problems here than the organization that you are thinking of moving up within and the troubles you face are not related to your organizational involvements.
How do you manage this?

Short Version: Just Stop Trying To! You can't and won't "fix" your wife. The more you try, the less that you'll have a healthy marriage. 

Long Version: You're making her problems your problems; Don't do this!  She has you in fear as a result because you believe your further involvement in Freemasonry threatens your relationship and marriage; It Doesn't! She is threatening your relationship, but she is engaged in a bait and switch with you and wants you to believe that Freemasonry is the problem; It Isn't!

Consider the following "possibilities":
  1. She is scared because she has chosen to be scared; nothing you do can change that so stop trying to fix her. 
    •  Be aware that she may be unknowingly wanting you to play the fix it game and use your disinterest to get angry with you if you don't play along.
  2. She has got a bigger problem and it's not fear; it's a control issue. 
    •  Be aware that she may be oblivious to this or deny it because it undermines her game.
  3. She has power over you by expressing this fear, knows it and it is being used to manipulate you and your relationship. 
    •  Be aware that she may not understand why she is doing all this but this does not make it any less real or controlling.
  4. She is also telling you in a very subversive and underhanded way that she DOES NOT TRUST YOU OR YOUR JUDGEMENT. If she did, she would not have this insanity polluting your relationship. 
    •  Be aware that this is foundationally the biggest issue of all, that she may have no clue that she is sending you this message of mistrust and that when confronted she will likely deny or try to minimize it.
  5. She is lying to you (and likely to herself) about her being "okay with [you] staying...". 
    • Don't buy into it, but be aware she may be incapable of seeing the truth due to her upbringing and surrounding dysfunctional support system.
You would do well to explore The Drama Triangle should you want to not get pulled into it ad nausea!
BTW - The brother who snapped and had a nervous breakdown: That was going to occur whether he joined Freemasonry (or any other organization), or not. He was a volatile bomb with a hair trigger ready for the right conditions to go off. All the signs were there and it is a shame he made it through the West Gate. Those who guarded it did not know what they were doing.

You have some serious things to consider here, and they are not related to Freemasonry.  Your organizational involvement is merely a focal point.  I'm glad that you chose her over the Craft.  You have you priorities straight.  You also have a tremendous challenge ahead of you for the issues here are not related to Craft involvements at all. They are related to deep seated trust and control issues that would have likely showed up regardless of what organization you belonged to.

I wish you and your wife well!


Coach John S Nagy
(*This conversation represents a composite of many chats between myself and Brothers and clients alike.)

Saturday, March 17, 2018

A Brother's Trust is Paramount!

FILED UNDER: How to Erode a Brother's Trust
I just received four more annoying Face Book private messages just today.  They were heart tugging private messenger texts.  They were shared by "Brothers" encouraging me to pass them along.  It was obvious that they were fabricated to be passed along by the unsuspecting. 
With a little effort I discovered that not one of them was fact checked and they were all patently FALSE.
Yes.  You heard me.  Brothers did this.

Here is a stern and blatant WARNING that all Brothers should heed!  When you want anyone as your trusting Brother to continue to trust you, don't encourage them to forward or share anything that you have sent to them that you have not personally fact checked yourself.  Do this and they shall not put any faith in future sharings from you if you have been found to be a sharer of false information. Your further sharings will not to be trusted into the future or taken seriously.
Furthermore, you will eventually be blocked; especially when you show all outward signs that you don't appreciated hearing that:
  • your lack of due diligence erodes their trust
  • your bad attitude toward their pointing this out annoys you
  • your words show disrespect toward their pointing out your irresponsible behavior
  • your insistence that you didn't do any harm
  • your not offering a deserved apology for not doing your job as a Brother and making them do it for you
Here’s the truth:
  1. When you pass along things that are hoaxes, you propagate lies and you waste time and erode trust.
  2. When you don't push back and tell your Brothers in what they are involved, you contribute to the lie and waste of time.
  3. When you don't want to get blocked, on face book and in life, do your DUE DILIGENCE BEFORE you pass something along to assure that is NOT a hoax. 
  4. When you want a Brother's trust back, clean up your mess!  Own up to what you did , notify everyone you've mislead and push back upon those who mislead you and pushed such nonsense your way. 
  5. When you take your sharing Brothers to task in doing the same you help curtail mistrust.  
The only way this irresponsible behavior is going to be reduced is when Brothers push back upon those who are irresponsibly wearing their titles.

Here are a few things to think about, with Masonic allusions in tow:
  1. When your word cannot be trusted, what good is your tongue?
  2. When your heart is misplaced, who has removed it from your chest?
  3. When you're torn between owning up to what you did and running from your responsibilities, who has severed you in twain?
Coach John S. Nagy


Saturday, March 3, 2018

A Brother Asks: Buying into the Fantasy

A Brother Asks: How do you quickly determine when another Brother has drunk the Kool-Aid and bought into the fantasy.
Coach: You'll know, when he acts like and states that he really believes Freemasonry is a continuation of Stonecraft in a speculative form and sells it as such rather than understanding and enjoying it as the "role-playing theatrical society with a moral purpose" that it is. 

Very few Brothers realize that the lexicon, words, symbols, and lore used within the society have only been borrowed from Stonecraft and integrated into our organization's writings and rituals to add an authentic feel to its plays.  They're not historic and neither is the lore. 
Brother: Wait?!  Freemasonry isn't a continuation of Stonecraft in a speculative form?
Coach:  Perhaps you and I need to take a moment, step back and have you explain in more detail exactly what you meant by drinking the Kool-Aid and buying into the fantasy. 
Brother: Just pulling your leg Coach.  That's exactly what I was looking for.  Thanks!

Coach: LOL!  You had me going there.
Brother: It's about time.
Coach John S Nagy