23: Owen Marcus: A Guide To Emotional Intelligence

Owen Marcus has worked with men’s groups to develop programs that give them the tools and teach them skills to be successful men, to celebrate their strengths, and to live their lives more fully.  Owen has appeared in a TedX Talk. His book Grow Up provides a guide to developing masculine emotional intelligence.  His book is recommended not only for men, but for women as well.

Owen’s journey in overcoming Dyslexia and Asperger’s Syndrome led him to see a bigger challenge, one that we all face: how to connect emotionally with others. Like many of us, Owen was never taught how to relate emotionally to others. Through twenty years designing and redesigning men’s groups, he found a way to provide to men what they were missing in this area.

Owen now teaches men how to start their own men’s groups and how to lead men’s groups. The documentary movie, About Men, reveals the innermost workings of the Sandpoint Men’s Group, the group he started in 2005.

Favorite Success Quote

“It’s not psychology, it’s physiology.”  – Dr. Rolf

Key Points

1. Address Your Stress by Releasing It From Your Body

Bodily therapies such as Rolfing can help you to release physiological stress patterns that are holding you back.  Stress is not just psychological.  Stress often is held in our musculoskeletal system.

2. Commit To Overcoming Your Challenges

Rather than finding a way around your challenges, aim to find a way through them.  Do not fight against Dyslexia and Asperger’s Syndrome, be willing to make mistakes, and learn what you are good at.  Use your unique gifts to your advantage and learn to work with them.  Many highly successful entrepreneurs have unique challenges like Asperger’s Syndrome for example.  We are limited in some ways, and gifted in others.  Find a sweet spot where you are working at your gift and passion simultaneously.

3. If You Do Not Ask For Help You Will Not Get It

Business owners, though often “lone wolfs”, are indeed social creatures.  Everyone needs to get involved with a healthy community.  High percentages of entrepreneurs need emotional support.  When you have someone emotionally watching your back, it ends up being a much easier journey.  There is a huge value in close friendships.  You are contributing to another person’s well being.

4. Healthy Vulnerability Is Not Oversharing

Healthy vulnerability is facilitated in safe spaces.  A safe space may be created in a small group where ALL members agree upon confidentiality and where there is a consensus among the group.  Do not confuse manipulative tendencies (i.e. sharing where there is no consensus) with healthy and true vulnerability.  It is manipulative and wrong to try to influence another’s emotions by “dumping” your life issues onto them without prior consensus.  Work on listening skills.  DO NOT engage manipulative individuals who attempt to guilt you into showing pity to them.  If they try to make you feel ashamed for this lack of engagement, call them out on that as it is manipulative.  They may become angry and begin gossiping about you, but be willing to tick them off and walk away (unless this is a covenant relationship).  If your partnership or marriage has reached this unfortunate state, counseling with professionals is recommended to facilitate healthy communication and working through these situations.  Get over your ego and be willing to work through the difficult issues.  Everyone has rough patches and hard times.

5. Men and Women Are Roughly 80% The Same, But The Differences Are Profound

Do not give up on difficult covenant relationships.  Remain authentic and learn how to communicate effectively.  Though dormant in most men, effective vulnerable communication skills are present and must be fostered and affirmed.  Men’s groups can help men gain confidence in this type of communication.  Men respect other men for sharing vulnerably.  Being a member of a men’s group can help men see that open sharing and grounded communication is to be praised and fostered.  

6. Accept That You Have To Be Proactive In Learning Relationships Skills

Be willing to be imperfect in your attempts in trying.  If you are trying and stretching yourself, you may still receive tests from your partner due to past hurts.  Press on in this case.  Keep going.  Step up and SHOW UP.  Many men “check out” of relationships because they reach an impasse.  Most men face this wits’ end because most men have not had the opportunity to learn from another healthy male model.  Most men do not have an effective “operating system” to go from.  Most men don’t know how to connect with their vulnerability in a way that gets communicated.  A woman may become frustrated, sad, and more with the situation.  Most men believe that by speaking they will mess up like they have thousands of times in the past.  This causes many men to freeze.  Instead of freezing and staying silent, an example of effective vulnerable communication may look like:

“I see that you’re really upset.  It really hurts me because I really care.  I know I have a hard time talking to you, and it’s only because I just don’t have the words.  I really care about you, and I can remember y’know how in the beginning when I fell in love with you how easy our communications were.. and now, I see you upset, I want to do something, I want to say something, I just don’t have the words.”

Heart Healthy Hustle Round

Heart: What activity do you use to care for and strengthen your internal character?

R.O.C. formula.  Slow down, experience the present moment, be emotionally mindful, and risk reaching out.

Health: How do you maintain your physical health and avoid burn out?

Body work therapies including. Rolfing, movement, Feldenkrais Method and more.

Hustle: What’s your main motivation for doing what you do? 

Owen wants to leverage what he’s done for himself for other men.  Owen aims to aid men in moving them toward achieving their greatness.

If You Had 60 Seconds With Your Younger Self, What Would You Say To Him?

Feel the fear, but don’t let it take you out.  Keep going for it.  Keep feeling, and you will succeed.

Influential Books

Braving The Wilderness  by Brené Brown

rolfing: the Integration Of Human Structures  by Ida P. Rolf

Connect with Owen Marcus


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