Challenge Groups

Monthly workouts for your “Inner Muscle”
The loving act of challenge

Men in the Tribe support each other through what one tribesman calls “the loving act of challenge” – being challenged to live up to our own principles, and challenging others to do so. A group of 5 to 8 men, from new initiates to initiated tribesmen, sit together in a challenge group every month for three to four hours. Nine challenge groups meet monthly in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Unlike groups whose primary purpose is sharing, stories, service, social, or structured rituals – all of which are valuable – our challenge groups are a forum to support men going through the initiation process and expand our own awareness through deep consciousness work.

We use a wide variety of tools and techniques including: Voice Dialogue, Enneagram analysis, dream work, visualization, conflict resolution, bioenergetics, expressing feelings fully, psychodrama, simulations, feedback, brainstorming, and creative expression. Each man brings his own expertise and wisdom to the process.

“Unique to the Tribe is our emphasis on teaching men how to support and guide other men through life’s initiations and challenges.”
— R.L.“The Tribe is a place for me to work. More specifically, it is a place for me to see myself, and to see other men.”

A Typical Challenge Group Meeting

The group begins by reading and reflecting on the Tribe’s principles. Any Tribe business matters are addressed. After a brief check-in, each man declares his interest and desire to work, and in what area of his life he’d like to challenge himself. Typically, 2 or 3 men will do work in a meeting. Some representative examples are:

  • A man seeking clarity of his life purpose had another man facilitate a 45-minute Voice Dialogue session, hearing what different inner voices had to say, expressing his deep desires and fears, being witnessed by five other men (many of whom were also seeking clarity on their own life purpose).
  • One man wanted help deepening his spirituality and his initiation challenge. His challenge was to meet and describe the Divine in each of four people: a homeless person, a “rage-aholic”, a minister, and a business “evangelist.” The man was having difficulty performing his challenge, and asked the group how for advice on how he might successfully complete his challenge.
  • A successful businessman wanted to explore a huge negative reaction with a client at work. With another man facilitating, he vocalized his anger, and after that, felt a deep, subconscious fear of failure. In a visualization, he followed his fear’s worst-case scenario, falling into a black hole and imagining himself on the street with homeless people at night, lit only by burning trash barrels. He saw he was still alive, and could still trust himself to get out of that situation – and help some of the homeless people leave, too. Seeing this helped him to accept his fear for how it served him, and increased his trust in himself.

The typical meeting closes by debriefing each man’s work and the facilitation of that work to enhance learning for future meetings.

Facilitating a Challenge Group

As the Tribe grows, new challenge groups are needed. When a new group is created, it is assigned trained facilitators. Facilitation is conducted through an intuitive style of group interaction, rather than using prewritten scripts or pre-designed protocols. Eventually, and with training, the group becomes self-facilitating. Facilitators’ skills are developed at a separate, monthly training meeting open to anyone interested in becoming a facilitator – which is one of the most popular Tribe meetings each month.

While the issues and work are different at each meeting, there are abundant opportunities to learn. Not every man does work at every meeting, but typically every man learns something with each man’s work. And we get to know each other at a very deep level – unlike most any other venue in our lives. We hold the group’s work as sacred and agree to maintain confidentiality.

Joining a Challenge Group

When a man has expressed strong interest in joining the Tribe and seeking initiation, we allow him to visit and join a challenge group.

The challenge group is designed to support the growth of well-functioning men. While a few tribesmen are therapists and coaches by profession, the Tribe of Men is not a provider of therapy or an emotional support group. In fact, if you are experiencing a crisis or serious depression, we recommend therapy instead of the Tribe of Men.Our tribesmen take the learning gathered from challenge groups into their intimate relationships, their families, their work, their communities and their own lives.

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