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Battles Men Face: Building Your Band of Brothers [BOOK EXCERPT]

Give-and-take is healthy, and sometimes the best way to get over your own struggle is to help someone else with theirs.

I'm not much for graphic video games. Perhaps if they had come into vogue when I was younger, I'd be able to connect with them. As it is, I barely have enough time to brush my teeth in the morning, let alone spend hours fighting aliens or carjacking Mustangs. That isn't to say, however, that I don't understand the immense draw these games have for the male gender. They are exciting and visual. They allow for acceptable expressions of aggression and provide opportunities for competition in a world of participation trophies.

So many of these games are based on warfare. More than that, they allow for you to be part of a team, a unit, a group of fellow soldiers banded together in common purpose. The graphics are gritty and the violence disturbingly real, even when it involves alien enemies and landscapes. They are compelling on a variety of levels, including their ability to re-create a sense of joint mission and purpose with even a simulated band of brothers.

I'm reminded of the quintessential war movie, Saving Private Ryan. The opening scenes of violence, depicting the events of the Allied Invasion of Normandy, remain with me to this day. Another aspect of the movie that continues to stay with me is the sense of unity and purpose portrayed by the group of soldiers assigned to, as the movie says, to save Private Ryan. If you haven't watched the movie, I encourage you to, but be warned, ti's emotionally powerful. Separated from family, from location, and from profession, this small group of men creates a different sort of family in the midst of war. I think one of the reasons this movie was so wildly successful is because of this very depiction and confirmation that unity and camaraderie and brotherhood are possible even in devastating circumstances.

I don't know what sort of circumstances you are facing. I don't know what sort of enemies you're looking in the eye. I don't know what's waiting for you over the next ridge. But, whatever it is, I do know you'll be stronger and better off with a group of guys to support you than you would be alone.

By a group of guys, I don't just mean any guys. I don't mean guys who are so caught up in their own stuff that they can't watch your back. I don't mean guys who are more interested in what you do than in who you are. And I don't necessarily mean guys who look exacty like you.

When looking for a band of brothers, you need to choose guys who have enough of their own stuff together that they're able to be outward focused. 

When looking for a band of brothers, you need to choose guys who want to be with you. There are a lot of venues for guys to get together. It is an error, however, to think all these guys show up because of you instead of the activity. So watch for guys who stop that extra minute to ask you how you are, who appear interested in your life, and who actually tell you the truth when you ask how they're doing.

You also want to watch out for the opposite. These are the guys who are only involved in the activity as a way to get to you. They are looking for business contacts, someone to loan them money, a couch to sleep on. They'll listen to what you have to say, all the while figuring out how to get what they want.

When looking for a band of brothers, consider those who look different from you. We tend to choose people who look like us if we're not intentional about expanding our horizons. The person who connects with us best may be someone who on the outside appears to be quite different.

Finally, as you're bringing together your band of brothers, remember that you're one of the brothers too. Don't be afraid to include someone who could benefit from you, your experience, and even your struggles. The best camaraderie happens with mutual benefit. Give-and-take is healthy, and sometimes the best way to get over your own struggle is to help someone else with theirs.

The above is excerpted from chapter 15 in Battles Men Face: Strategies to Win the War Within by Dr. Gregory Jantz.

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