Five Minute Interview: Wayne Levine
Alvin: Who are you, what do you do, and what do you enjoy most about it?
Wayne: I’m Wayne Levine, director of BetterMen.org in Agoura Hills, CA. I’m a life coach and mentor for men. I work with men individually, facilitate several groups each week, and lead retreats for men. I’m also the leader of a community of BetterMen who participate in a variety of community service activities, supporting the men and families of our communities. I have a Masters in clinical psychology and wrote “Hold On to Your N.U.T.s—The Relationship Manual for Men.” The book and more about what I do can be found at www.BetterMen.org. I’ve been married for 25 years and have a daughter and son in college. We also have five rescued animals, three dogs and two cats.
Having discovered my higher purpose work years ago, what I enjoy most about working with men is seeing the changes take place as they demonstrate the courage necessary to break old habits to become the men, fathers and husbands they truly want to be. Plus, I’m able to continually do my own work and break through my barriers in order to be in the moment with the men.
Alvin: In your opinion what does it mean to be a father today?
Wayne: To be a good father today, I believe, means what it has always meant. A father’s responsibility is to be an exemplary model of what it looks like to be a loving, respectful and committed man in a relationship. He’s to teach his daughter to look for a caring and protective mate by loving and cherishing her mother. A father teaches his children the importance of honor, integrity, humility and respect. He teaches them how to deal with challenges. He asks others for help when needed, especially when needed to properly mentor his children. He shows his kids how to work hard and how to enjoy life.
Alvin: What are your favorite activities that you enjoy most with your son?
Wayne: My son is now 19 and in love. A little texting is the extent of our interaction these days, now that he’s away at college and becoming the man he wants to be. I used to love being with him on weekends for his ice hockey tournaments. Like most Jews, eating is an important ritual for us. Introducing him to my favorite ethnic cuisine around L.A. was always a highlight. Standing under the jets as they landed at LAX. Going on father/son trips with our circle of men to the desert to shoot, white water rafting, camping. Most recently, I enjoyed going to NYC and sharing with him my greatest joy, musical theatre on Broadway.
Alvin: In your opinion what does it mean to be a man today?
Wayne: Again, a man today is what a man has always needed to be—someone who is clear about his N.U.T.s (non-negotiable, unalterable terms) and honors those commitments for himself and those he cares about.
Alvin: Tell a story, name something that you’ve done or experienced that became your largest step to manhood?
Wayne: Without a doubt, the single most important event on my road toward discovering my masculinity was attending my first men’s weekend retreat. A friend suggested I come to a guest event held by his men’s group. He told me nothing about the group. All he said was they he thought I’d like it. So I went. What I heard and saw that evening forever changed my life. I played a ridiculous game with about 40 men, and then heard them talk revealingly about things I had never heard men speak of before. The retreat was two weeks away. I grabbed my balls and said, “I’m in.”
As I drove home I realized that this was the first major decision I had made, by myself, about me and my time, since I had married my wonderful wife. I had no idea if there were plans already on the calendar for us in two weeks. Regardless, I was going to this men’s weekend. I did, and the path it introduced me to ultimately led me to change careers so that I could introduce this work to other men who desperately need the mentoring, camaraderie and ass-kicking of other good men.
Alvin: What personal advice do you have for fathers and men navigating their way through fatherhood and manhood?
Wayne: Don’t do it alone. Ask for help. It’s the natural thing to do, though it may feel counter-intuitive. Seek out other men, find a men’s group, get real with the men close to you. Have older men as advisors so you can have half a chance of maintaining a healthy perspective on your life.
Read, meditate, honor and cherish your wife. Disconnect when you go home. Turn off anything electronic that’ll take you back to work. Be with your family. And when that gets tough, ask for help.0