It began almost by accident. Well, it wasn’t an accident that it began but there were certainly no plans that the initial activities would grow into an international movement that’s changed and saved millions of lives.
If we wind the clock back to 2003, we might find ourselves watching a couple of mates have a few beers, come up with an idea, and then thankfully, develop this lark into a multimillion-dollar health awareness campaign. Movember made its first donation (of more than $50,000) in 2004 to the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia. By the year 2015, approximately $800 million dollars had been raised!
These funds have been distributed to a range of men’s health causes, focusing particularly on key areas of men’s health such as prostate and testicular cancer, as well as men’s mental health and suicide prevention.
You can read more about this fantastic movement HERE but in short, it’s safe to say it’s been one of the most impressive success stories not just here in Australia but also, all over the world (it’s been ranked, for example, among the Top 50 nongovernment organisations in the world AND has received “cult brand status”).
I’m writing about this now because, as you may already have guessed, it’s November; so it’s a good time to reflect upon your (physical and mental) health if you’re a male OR on the health and wellbeing of the men in your life if you’re female. The sad reality is that among other things, approximately 6 men die by suicide every single day here in Australia. And I don’t know about you, but this isn’t something I’m prepared to tolerate. We can all do something, for ourselves and others, and tapping into the impressive activities of groups like Movember if for no other reason than to start conversations is a great way to begin.
But I also wanted to take some time to reflect upon the values that have helped Movember achieve the success it has achieved. On its website, the Movember team list their values as including fun (“we’re all about havin’ fun while doin’ good), respect, teamwork, and humility. As much as I’d love to write about all these, I only have space to focus on one in any detail. And I’ve chosen to focus on “being humble” because I feel it’s a wonderful strength that’s often ignored, especially in men, and a powerful strength that can be used not just to fuel organisational success but also, to improve our psychological wellbeing.
You see, humility is the perfect antidote to pride; and pride, is one of the more significant factors in the poor health and mental health, especially for men.
Because we know for a fact that men are notoriously bad at seeking and utilising professional help. Men are less likely (than women) to visit doctors and psychologists and other health professionals; and even when they do, they’re less likely to report symptoms. This is not a good thing.
Now it’s true that there are a number of reasons for this but one of them is pride. And I’m not talking about “good pride”; that sense of satisfaction one enjoys after working hard for and achieving something meaningful. I’m talking about “dumb pride”; the one associated with unhelpful and unrealistic beliefs about being “strong” and coping “on my own” and not showing “weakness”. That one; the type of pride that can ultimately get you killed.
Humility, on the other hand, can be much healthier. Believing that we’re not and don’t need to be perfect; that others can and are able to help us; that reaching out and asking for help is a sign of strength and maturity and even wisdom.
Movember seems to have built at least some of its success on the value of humility. I invite you all to build your health and wellbeing, as well as the health and wellbeing of the men (and boys) in your life on the same, powerful strength … here’s to being humble!