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My guest today is David Stegman.

We go deep talking about:

  • How David invited and then navigated major upheaval in multiple areas of his life as he was becoming a father,
  • The importance of men’s work and men’s groups in David’s fatherhood journey,
  • Hold on to the rope – why these words from David’s mentor helped him get through the first two years of fatherhood,
  • Normalizing imperfect relationships and normalizing talking about all of this as men and fathers,
  • Figuring out what’s actually important in your life,
  • Why David wants all men to have the support of a group of men who are just one message away when you need some help,
  • How to build your own community of dads locally, and
  • This profound statement from David that men are craving to go deeper but rarely get an invitation.

David Stegman helps new fathers and high-achieving men integrate their new identity of fatherhood into their already busy lives through one-on-one coaching and group work. As a father of two, he understands the struggles and hardships of being a new parent and what it takes to create a new compelling vision of life as a father.

David is trained as a coach through the Co-Active Training Institute and has deep roots in the ManKind Project. He is a co-founder of the Rad Dad Collective, which helps build meaningful communities around fatherhood.

David spends much of his time outdoors with his family and resides just outside Nelson, B.C. in the home that he built himself.

Please reach out directly to David to set up a free discovery call to see if working together is a good fit as you navigate the journey of fatherhood. You don’t have to do it alone anymore.

Find David online at: 

Coaching: ​​https://www.thecourageousway.com/

Rad Dad Collective: https://raddadcollective.org/

Curt Storring 0:00

Welcome to the Dad.Work podcast. My name is Curt Storring, your host and the founder of Dad.Work. I'm excited today to talk to David Stegman. We go deep talking about how David invited and then navigated major upheaval in multiple areas of his life as he was becoming a father, the importance of men's work and men's group in David's father journey, hold on to the rope. Why these words from David's mentor, help him get through the first two years of fatherhood, normalizing imperfect relationships and normalizing talking about all of this as men and fathers, figuring out what's actually important in your life. Why David wants all men to have the support of a group of men who are just one message away when you need some help, how to build your own community of dads locally, and this profound statement from David that men are craving to go deeper, but there's no invitation. David Stegman helps new fathers who are high achieving men integrate their new identity of fatherhood into their already busy lives through one on one coaching and group work. As a father of two he understands the struggles and hardships of being a new parent, and what it takes to create a new compelling vision of life as a father. David is a trained coach through the coactive Training Institute, and has deep roots in the mankind project. He is a co founder of the RAD dad collective, which helps build meaningful communities around fatherhood, David spends much of his time outdoors with his family and resides just outside Nelson British Columbia, in the home that he built himself. Please reach out directly to David to set up a free discovery call to see if working together is a good fit as you navigate the journey of fatherhood. You don't have to do it alone anymore. You can find David online at the courageous way.com or RAD dad collective.org. You can also find him on Instagram. And I am just excited to talk to David today we got connected a little while ago because of course, being in this space, I had heard of the RAD dad collective, and was wondering what they were up to these days, we talked a little bit on Facebook, got to know each other. And I thought man, this is just such a solid guy, such a solid dad, and he does this work every single day. So he brings some amazing insights into his own journey of fatherhood, how he helps other men navigate fatherhood, and this fantastic resources community that he's building called the RAD dad collective. So I especially like the fact that there's really actionable tips in here to both build a community in your local area with other dads, and how to make those hangouts meaningful by adding just a couple of small things that you might not have thought about before. So enjoy this conversation with David Stegman. And let's get to it.

David Stegman Welcome to the Dad.Work podcast. I have to do the official little intro there. But I'm really excited to have you because I just feel very connected and drawn to you after talking to you only a couple times. So yeah, I'm really excited to have your energy.

David Stegman 2:38

Well, I appreciate being here curtain excited to where we go today.

Curt Storring 2:42

Yeah, I was talking to a couple guys that, you know, I had Nicky Wilks on recently, and I'm trying to sort it out with Gabriel Keczan, who, you know, he's dealing with something right now. But it's good that there's like this little circle of dads forming. And I know you guys have the circle already. But I'm just excited to like, see that there's this out there, this energy, these guys who are like doing the work as dads, and that's sort of where I want to start the conversation is just can you walk us through becoming a father, and that transition? Because this like, it was a pivotal point in my life, where I was like, oh, man, I know nothing. And then everything from there flowed. So what did that look like for you becoming a father?

David Stegman 3:21

Yeah. So you know, I have a four year old son right now and a five year old daughter. And I remember my partner getting pregnant, and I was working is the kind of carpenter contractor at the time. And what I noticed in myself was, I didn't envision myself being this when I became a father. And that was kind of a tough pill to swallow. Because I knew what the life of a contractor is, and it's busy. It's putting out fires, it's long hours. And that's not really what how I wanted to be a father. So what happened next was one of my counselor said, Well, why don't you just shut your business down. And to me, that felt pretty terrifying to have a business that was ticking along lots of work. And just to pull the plug, and she said, well just set a date. And so I set the date of once I finished building my homes I was partway through, I would never go back to kind of contracting after that. And that's when I hired my first coach to help me kind of navigate you know, if not this, then what? And I was involved in men's work for the mankind project during that time. And, you know, that type of work really gave me a lot of energy and juice and, and that kind of led me on the road to coaching in doing men's work in you know, during that transition, my wife's pregnant. You know, we're having this new baby, I'm not only shutting down a business, I'm starting a new business. Shortly after that my business partner also got cancer. So that was kind of thrown into the whole life storm of becoming a father. And when I deal with clients now, I talk a lot about, you know, life doesn't stop when you have kids, so they're still going to be tragedies, you're still going to be getting fired, there's still going to be sick parents, and it's really how do I set myself up as a new father as a dad so that these events don't debilitate me completely? How do I recover from them? How do I create the optimal conditions? To almost survive? what life throws? Yeah, and obviously, but there and it's, yeah, go ahead.

Curt Storring 5:49

Yeah, no, that that actually is like a quite a interesting correlation to my own story. I, we found out that my wife was pregnant, I quit my job, I was working for government minister in Canada at the time, I moved 1000 kilometers away. And I was like, I don't feel like getting another job. So I did, and, you know, you make it work. But man, I totally feel you on this, like, terrifying feeling of not knowing what comes next. But um, am I hearing right that you were doing men's work before you guys had a child?

David Stegman 6:22

Yes, probably I, probably two or three years, I really got into the mankind project, it was the really the first opportunity I ever experienced to be vulnerable in front of men to really get in touch with myself, learning new skills about how to actually articulate my emotions. And these were, you kind of be six skills that I just had never been shown, taught, modeled. And so what I found useful is having this already built community of men to lean on as I transition into fatherhood, to be able to talk a little bit about, hey, I'm feeling, you know, terrified and feeling frustrated and feeling sad and feeling whatever, you know, this whole buffet of emotions going through a pregnancy, having, you know, a new baby in the home. But what I found missing was really a group of fathers that I could relate with that everyone was a father, because in mankind projects has, you know, people of all ages, and all different stages of life. And I found the uniqueness of what's it like for fathers to get together as fathers and discuss what it's like to be going through the journey of fatherhood. And that's kind of the inspiration for the Red Dead collective, which is another one of the projects I'm a part of,

Curt Storring 7:43

right. And let's leave that as a cliffhanger. Because this is like the thing that I'm most personally excited about, like, how do I do this? Because I what my question is, for dads who have been doing the work, and I know there's some men in my circles, who have been doing this work for a long time, and now they're just coming to the point where they're becoming fathers. And I go, like, is it just easy at that point? Because I struggled so so much as a father as a young father, because I've never done this work before. So what was it like for you, where you're just like, Okay, I feel my emotions, I can sit with this, or was it still quite overwhelming?

David Stegman 8:18

It was very overwhelming, I'd say even with doing the work in the way I describe it now is that it's it's a very disorientating event. You know, it's, I'm a, I'm not a father, and then I'm now a father baby comes. And it's this disorientation of what does my life look like now? How do I show up differently? What's my role here? Who do I need for support, and even with doing all this pre work and emotional intelligence work, it still doesn't orientate me towards anything. And I think that that's the area that I really struggled with, of. I was cleaning a bit to my old life, because that felt familiar. But my old life didn't fit into my new reality of having kids. And so there's a tension and an anger and the frustration of what got me to this place is no longer working. And I'm not really sure what to do or how to overcome that. And I don't think the answer is working hard, which in the past, it's like, I'll just work harder, or I'll just clock more hours, or I'll just read another book or listen to another podcast and, and a lot of my coaching clients, it's like part of the, the actual, what's needed is how to slow down how to take things off my plate, how to really get clear on some of the basics, how to more in my old life to some degree, and close that chapter in a really meaningful way. And open up this new book, which is fatherhood. And I think that there's very few examples of this transition of really, I'm no longer my old life and I'm Opening this chapter of I'm a father now and I'll be a father for the rest of my life. And what does that actually mean? To me as an individual individual? And how do I want to show up in the world?

Curt Storring 10:11

How did you navigate that? Like, was there a death and rebirth? What How did you sort of see this?

David Stegman 10:18

Really through bumbling and stumbling at that time, it was, you know, I remember calling upon my mentors, in a parking lot of a grocery store, almost in tears, just feeling so overwhelmed by, you know, building the house, starting this business, you know, the pending death of my business partner, and him just telling me like, hold on to the rope. I just remember this verse, he just told me like, hold on to the rope, hold on to the rope, hold on to the rope, and don't let go. And I can even feel myself tearing up just talking about that moment, because it was, it's really what I needed. Like, I just have to hold on through this, this time through the storm through this really challenging experience. And it's gonna get, you know, it's like any storm, it's going to become calm at some point. So I wish I had some sort of, you know, I went through this flowery experience of transitioning into into fatherhood. But it was a lot of screwing up, it was a lot of anger, frustration, tears, making mistakes, you know, but I feel blessed, because I had a men's community to lean on at that time. So, you know, through those processes, I could bring them to my men's group, and at least have an outlet to share what's going on for me, you know, get some support, get some counsel. And now that's what I do with men. You know, I, a lot of my clients are successful men who have young children and are at a place of how do I integrate being a parent into my life? How do I create a vision for myself that's in line with the values I want to have? How do I be a supportive partner? How do I get in touch with my emotions, like there's so much to fatherhood, there's so many different skill sets and avenues to go. But again, it's this really disorientating experience of I had a life. And now my life is so different. And it happens overnight. It's you go to the hospital or you have a home birth, and then your life from that moment on is never the same. And what do you do with that?

Curt Storring 12:38

Yeah, no, I really like that you sort of gave, from my perspective, we're giving man this permission, this validation to feel this because when I see guys who've done the work, I go, like, that's not fair. Like they've got this huge community. Like, I wish I had that. And I feel some almost resentment. And it's not actually that I'm very happy that this is the case now. But hearing your story that you did have the support that it was still hard. I think it just goes to show there's almost like this universal experience of fatherhood. And when we stop seeing our path is so unique, I think that can help men drop into the sense of like, Oh, it's okay. It's okay. If I screw up sometimes it's okay. If it's hard, because man this is so it's continually hard for me. And, you know, from us, they dads I talked to, but I'm curious, what was the rope that you held on to during this storm?

David Stegman 13:29

Yeah, for me, the what's the rope? There's a sense of so much what I hear talking to other fathers, as I get through the first two years, like there's almost like a survival. There's almost like, if you can survive the first two years, it gets easier. And it's, I don't have the statistics on the top of my head. But so many couples break up within this first two years. And, and it's really a tragedy because of the impact of having, you know, single parents and just as an individual, how to how do I navigate being a father, a single father, co parenting with another person in to me, I think that was a lot of the rope is like, I want to make it through these two years. Because people tell me, it's gonna be easier. And I don't want to, you know, I want to try to keep my family together, I want to try to show up as a partner, I want to try to show up as a parent I want to be and at that time, I didn't even know what it looked like, I just knew that that was important to me. And I was going to do kind of whatever it took to try to make that happen. And you know, talking with other fathers now, like sometimes that isn't an option, but I know for me at that time, it was like there's still juice in the tank. I know. I can dig a little deeper. I know I can reach out to more support and I think part of the humbling experience is really like how much can accept that I I'm in water, I have no idea what to do in and, and, you know, just be really vulnerable and honest. It's like I'm way in over my head, I don't even know what support I need. I don't know where to turn in and just keep asking and keep asking for for support and for help. In my experience, I found it.

Curt Storring 15:24

Yeah, the power of hope is what I'm sort of getting from them is just you knew there was this light at the end of the tunnel, you're optimistic and, and there was mud sounds of it? How was your relationship like during this time? And how has that been part of your growth and your journey with having a partner and raising children together?

David Stegman 15:44

Yeah, it for me, it's how was my relationship? I think it was. The analogy I use with a lot of my clients is, we both go through this experience of birth, and then we're both actually just drowning simultaneously, in our own unique way. So we have an experience, and now we're a couple who are, who are drowning together. And, you know, that's kind of a scary place to be when when we're not used to drowning. You know, we're used to thriving as a couple, we're used to being on each other's team, we're used to being rested, we're used to, you know, not having the stress of learning new skills of parenting. And now we're in this water, we're not really sure how to swim in, and how do I support my drowning partner while I'm simultaneously drowning. And, you know, she had a very challenging postpartum for almost two years. So she was going through her own experience of, of becoming a mother, while I simultaneously was drowning, in my own experience of becoming a father. You know, and it's hard, you know, I would love to, again, to say that it was just like, we were as this magical couple that consciously came together, and everything was perfect. But there was a lot of hard conversations, there was a lot of hurts, tears, sleepless nights. And again, I think it's important for fathers to talk about this to normalize, like, my, this is what my relationship looks like. Because when I look out in the world, and it looks like everyone's kind of has it together as new parents, my experiences is that's a bit of a facade. And if you actually get real with other parents, and dads, it's, there's a lot going on behind the scenes. And for me, that makes it feel like Oh, I'm not the only one struggling, or I'm not the only one screwing this up. And we're all kind of drowning together as this.

Curt Storring 17:55

Yeah, that's, that's rings true to my experience, as well. So just add another notch on the side. It's not all rainbows, and there's no sort of conscious coupling going on in those first few years. And, you know, even for years after that for me, and one of the things that I have noticed is that my children ended up being like my biggest teachers. And I was triggered by them in ways that I had never been triggered before. And just maybe my personality, whatever it is, I, in retrospect, love being triggered, because it opens these opportunities to learn more about myself. And so I'm curious if that was the case for you? And if so, what sorts of things have you learned based on your children teaching you in a sense that you don't think you might have learned otherwise? Does anything come up?

David Stegman 18:46

Yeah, you know, definitely, as children being kind of my biggest teacher, there's something that really, you know, as my oldest, I think really taught me is just to slow down and be present. It's before having kids, I felt like I was always on to the next thing staying so busy, you know what's important. Go, go, go, go go and having, you know, very young child or a baby, he really has no agenda except play and have fun, or just eat and sleep. There's a part of me that wants things to happen. And I think that's the struggle for a lot of fathers. It's like, it's hard. It can be hard to connect with a beat of brand new baby because they don't really do very much, or, you know, in kind of the Father Son. Relationship, classic relationship look. So talking to other fathers, it's like, how do you connect with just a brand new baby and for me, it was the really the first baby I've ever held was my own. So to give you context of, like, my experience with new babies was was really zero until, you know, they hand me a baby at the hospital and say You go walk them down the hall. And I'm like, Do you realize the level of experience I have with the baby. And I just remember that moment, it's like walking down the halls. You know, right after the birth, and looking at this little baby being like, I've never held a baby, this young before in, and, and the fear and the joy of that, that that moment of by this, even the basics, I don't know, I don't know how to hold a baby properly. I don't know how to change a baby burpham Baby, swaddle a baby. And so when it comes to teaching, there's like, kind of this kind of the practical skills, I think, but that's not really what you're talking about. There's like the, how are they bringing up parts of me that I don't really want to look at it. Look at now be my my impatience, wanting to get things done. Maybe maybe lack of ability to connect to the eye again, it's and they continue to teach me I have a five month old now. And it's the journey continues.

Curt Storring 21:06

Yes, yeah, that's, that's so interesting. I've got an eight, a six and a one, almost two year old now. And it's the same sort of thing. Like they each have taught me such specific things. And even like, yeah, when I remember, Leo, or youngest was five months, I wrote something because I was just like, so overwhelmed by his presence. He just, he just was, and I just like, loved him so much, and didn't realize I could love that deeply until the third one, to be honest. And that was just so special. So thank you for going there. I know, this is sort of just just like a deep dive into what it feels like to be a father, I think I really like this flavor of conversation, because it gives men an insight. And so again, validates conversations like this, because they're so important. And the thing I wanted to talk about next was just your relationship to fatherhood. Now. Like, what is maybe a guiding principle? Or? Yeah, what are your guiding principles as a father today, or as a parent in your family?

David Stegman 22:08

So the point to a lot is, you know, what's actually important, you know, if I was to write a list of what's important in my life, you know, and you get clients to do this, as well, of, you know, what's actually important. Instead, I'm not talking about, you know, having making a bunch of money, or having a massive business, it's like, I get really specific of, you know, spending quality time with my kids, spending quality time with my partner, connecting to myself, you know, doing something meaningful, helping others like this is the kind of things I want to be filling my life with. And what I've noticed is, there's a lot of distractions that come up, and I use the analogy of drowning. So I'm a new parent, I'm drowning, I'm drowning. And then somebody throws me a gold brick as a new opportunity. And I don't need another gold. I don't need a gold brick when I'm drowning. But it's very tempting to be like, oh, there's a new opportunity, a business opportunity, I can take on one more client, I can, you know, start this new business, I can go on this holiday, this kind of fun thing in the priority isn't get more gold bricks, when I'm drowning. It's like, how do I not drown? And not drowning looks? Like how do I actually take care of myself? You know, how do I get more sleep, like really back to basics of sleeping, eating, connecting with my partner, connecting with my kids exercise, doing something meaningful, having some alone time, and really cutting out a lot of the noise when it comes to just adding more things to my plate? So so really, its simplicity, like my, I guess my philosophy is around how do I simplify my life to really do the things that are important, the majority of the time and then do things that are, you know, what I might have thought was important in my previous pre fatherhood life, you know, cut that stuff out?

Curt Storring 24:19

And what about in relation to your children? So you as a parent, are there ways that you parent that you sort of distill down to principles, whether it's, you know, my number one goal is to show up for my children as they are wherever that is, or you know, encourage them in a certain way? Are there things like that that you sort of parent by?

David Stegman 24:44

Yeah, I think even just quality time, like I just think of I just want to be a part of their life in a meaningful way. And that looks, you know, very different from the day to day sometimes it might be teaching them a lesson about something other times it might be You know, just reading a book and giggling on the couch. But just being involved, I think is is so important, especially as a man, like being involved in the parenting being involved in being around the house, like I work from home, which is a huge gift and privilege. So I can really be present for a lot of these kind of milestone moments. And, you know, I've created my life so that I've prioritized being close to family being close to my kids, because it's something I'm I don't want to be, you know, eight years old, and look back and say, I wish I had spent more time with my kids when they're little. And I don't know, anyone who's like, I wish I worked more. When I when my kids were little, I wish I worked 60 hours a week when my kids were brand new. And so right now, it's like focused on just being there experiencing it experiencing with my partner, you know, and that might change as they grow older. It's like, again, with my clients I talked about where are you at, in the arc of fatherhood. And in the first five years, it's like, it's a very early stages of fatherhood. And on this arc, and later, there's different things that are required of me on that arc. And I think what's helpful is talking to parents with different age kids, to kind of hear some of the, you know, what's it like to be on the arc of fatherhood with teenagers, what's it like to be on the arc of fatherhood with young adult, you know, kids, and for me, it gives them perspective of like, I'm writing infancy when it comes to where I'm at, on this arc of fatherhood. And I'm going to be showing up a certain way around that because I'm want to prioritize that time with being with my kids. And just supporting that process. And again, it's like, supporting my partner, supporting myself supporting my kids. And as it gets easier, and they go into school with like, that's going to be a different point of this arc. And I'll be showing up differently during that time.

Curt Storring 27:03

Yeah, thank you for that. Is there more to this arc of fatherhood that we can dive into now? Or is it just that sort of idea that you are almost as father, an infant again? And you just have to, like, take that perspective to be like, I not going to know exactly what's going on? I'm going to show up the best I can. Is there anything else to dive into? There?

David Stegman 27:23

Is some other pieces just, you know, I use the model of arcs, just in all areas of my life. So I've been think of, I'm closing an arc, right before fatherhood, and then I'm starting a new arc. So there's like a, an arc finishing? And how do I honor that process of this arc is complete, I will no longer be somebody who's not a father. And then I'm starting a new arc of, you know, now I'm a father, there's an arc in my entire life. So you know, where am I at? In my, in my arc of life, even though I don't know when it's gonna end necessarily. It gives me some context of, am I showing up kind of inappropriate way to where I'm at in the arc? Or am I stuck as a teenager during kind of teenager activities? You know, when on this arc, I'm actually, you know, a young father with kids, and what are my responsibilities? And how do I want to show up on that? So, again, it's just a model. And like any models that's, you know, take what's useful or not, but it gives me context to where I'm at in the journey instead of going to use the disorientating event. It orientates me a little bit of, okay, this is where I'm at on the arc of fatherhood. This is where I'm headed. Other men have gone down this arc, for, you know, since the beginning of time, I'm not trying a new trail here. It's like, I just have to acknowledge this is where I'm at today, and I'm going to be somewhere tomorrow.

Curt Storring 28:50

Yeah, thank you for going a little bit deeper into that. I love just symbolism and sort of just putting a more of a visual idea to things to give perspective, because it can be so easy to just be lost in the weeds of the day to day. And inertia and having tools like this to reflect on, I think are very important. And that brings me to this question of reflection in general, are there things that you do regularly to ensure that you are being aligned with the spot on this arc that you are in reality occupying? What is sort of your reflection process look like?

David Stegman 29:28

You know, because of the nature of my work, where I'm coaching on a daily basis, and working with other dads in similar situations, it's like so much of my actual flexion is, is reflected back through the experience of other fathers. So I actually get to witness their struggle and then relate it back to my own of both positively and negatively where it's like, well, that's a warning. I don't want to go down that route, or they're celebrating something and that's really working for them. So it's like how can I integrate Those practices into my own life. So I'm in a bit of a unique situation because of the nature of my work. But through the red dye collective, for example, which, you know, we're a group of fathers who meet on a bi weekly basis, and kind of discuss topics of fatherhood. Again, it's that reflection of, you know, what's working for other people, what isn't working for other people? Can we be open and honest about it? And how do we support each other as a community so that I can integrate those things into my own life? And what is working and what isn't working, I can kind of cut up some of the fat. So getting a community would be a big key part of this, like, how do I build a meaningful community of, so I don't have to do this alone. And then carving out the time, you know, something that I a lot of, I talk to my clients a lot about is, you know, you go to work and you work for somebody else, 40 hours a week, but how many hours a week do you self reflect or, or put into yourself of, okay, I'm going to work towards this goal, or I'm going to learn this new skill, or I'm going to focus on parenting for the next two or three hours, or I'm going to talk with my partner in a meaningful way. And, again, it's carving up the time that me time, and it can be challenging as a parent with with busy schedule, but again, how much time you spend on your cell phone scrolling, you know, a classic, you know, time sec, how much time do you just zone out in front of a TV, this is all valuable time for self reflection. And, and I think it's vital as a parent to, to squeeze out some of that time of really prioritize this is actually going to help me in every way in my life. So how do I guard that one or two hours at a time, that's gonna support my relationships, it's going to support me as a parent who can support the business that I'm growing. I love the question I,

Curt Storring 31:58

I just throw my full weight behind that about community I heard, I mean, you get a built in day to day as a coach, which is a huge hack. I love that. And but also doing it in community, like, yeah, getting reflection from other men and just hearing where other men are at. And then getting feedback on where you're at is, in my experience, one of the most powerful ways that I have just done any of this work, growth, healing, getting better as a parent, whatever it is doing that in community. And then I just want to like double down on this phone thing. And I know everyone goes like, oh, yeah, you know, I spent too much time on my phone, I had set myself a challenge at the beginning of q4 to 50%, reduce my phone time, and I use my phone for posting stuff on Instagram and Facebook. So I was like, Okay, I'm gonna have to really guard this. And I made a few decisions. And you know, four weeks later, five weeks later, I've done it, I'm down to like two hours a day, including work on my cell phone, and it stays in my office. And man, my life is so much better. It's unbelievable. Just two extra hours of not going like oh, well I'm kind of, you know, tired, I'm gonna sit on the couch, look at the sports scores, or look at Facebook or Instagram. Now I go, What can I do around the house? Or which child can I play with? Or how can I help with dinner, or, you know, maybe I can think about journaling something about my business. And then it has made me feel so much better. So that is like not the point of this conversation whatsoever. But it's just so, so powerful that if you're thinking about this listening to it, I challenge you to just take an hour from that screen time. I mean, it shows how much you do every day, he can track it, just do that. Because it's worked a lot for me. So all that being said, a little sidebar there, I do want to get into the RAD data collective, and figure out like maybe just start walking us through generally what it is maybe the iteration that currently exists. And if it feels right, sort of how it came to that iteration. And I'd love to talk to you about how it scratch your own itch. Because for me, this is an itch that I have and would like to scratch myself.

David Stegman 34:04

So the Red Dead collective was was really born out of I do the leadership programs, the collective Training Institute, down in California, and it was part of it was creating a quest out in the real world. And their definition of a quest was it had to draw on your leadership skills. You couldn't do it alone. So you had to kind of enroll a team. To help with the quest. It had to have a very definitive end date. So you know, we know when the quest is complete. And it also had to be something meaningful, personally meaningful for me as a quest, questor and so at the time, you know, had no it's probably one years old at the time and fatherhood was a big theme kind of this navigating fatherhood. And so I thought what would be the quest around fatherhood and what would be meaningful for me to have an experience the Like a dive into, and I reached out to my friend Sean Aiken, who was also part of the mankind project had a young daughter as well, similar age to Noah. And we started to come up with the idea of a Red Dead campout. So the idea was, you know, how do we get together as a group of fathers with their young kids go out and have an experience of almost like a festival vibe, but like a music festival vibe, but kid centered as men, and we look to be researched all over the place, and there's very few experiences worldwide that even come close to what we were, you know, this rad dad campout experience of men going out with their young kids, as men supporting men, and supporting each other's kids. And what, you know, we're getting into the process, and then COVID hit. And so you know, COVID, again, we had to cancel kind of all of our plans when it came to setting up the red dad campout. But what we decided was, okay, what's the opportunity here, we already have this momentum building, we're already reaching out to dads who were in connection with around this. And so we, we created our first Red Dead circle. And so we personally invited because about 10, fathers, some around Western Canada in the US that we knew through men's work already, and committed to let's meet on a weekly basis, for the next six weeks and just discuss fatherhood, essentially, the theme was just fatherhood. And through that process, we discovered like there's something really magical of the shared experience of fatherhood that, that binds us all together, even from our other experiences. Like when I talk about my fears around fatherhood, it resonates so much with other men who have similar fears. So when I talk about the joys of playing with my kids, it really resonates with other fathers, not in the same way of someone without kids. So after six weeks, we did another, I believe, four weeks of just co leading together kind of this CO created experience. And then we decided, okay, well, what's next are in this COVID, still in full swing, where everyone's still very much locked down. And so we designed a six weeks, kind of online rad dad collective experience. Again, it's like, how do we bring fathers together have meaningful conversation? Because there's something really magical about just that experience alone. We ran a number of those. And then Shawn, and I sat down and were really curious about, you know, what do we want as the co founders of the Red Dead collective, it's like, what would be the ideal outcome of, of this organization, because it wasn't about the money it was it was more just like a, this felt good that we wanted to see this in the world. And what we came up with was the Red Dead inner circle, which is really an ongoing group. Because, you know, what was the challenge for us was, we'd have this powerful experience for six weeks with these men. And then it kind of dropped. And so we didn't have the connection on a weekly basis. We didn't move we kind of fell over their lives and what we're longing for, it's really like, what would a village of RAD dads look like? What would you know, over many, many years, as we transition into fatherhood, as we get into the next, you know, part of the arc of fatherhood, you know, the power of having this ongoing community to, to really know our kids to really know our partners to really have deep meaningful experiences together, as we all simultaneously navigate this journey of fatherhood.

So we created the inner circle, there's currently eight of us we've been meeting for just about a year now. And again, we we meet every two weeks on zoom from all over the place. And again, we're just talking about topics so the we're talking about, you know, finances we're talking about parenting, we're talking about our sex life, we're talking about our relationships we're talking about cryptocurrency we're really anything that feels alive in our lives to have a space to bring to a group of men and, and really get some reflection, getting some insight. And then we use whatsapp as our in between time, which, to me this is really where the magic is of. And this is I think, we're the vision I'm really pointing to is like, imagine every father could pull out their cell phone, and then one text could have eight men supporting them. You know, I'm struggling right now. It's just, you know, I don't know what to do. I'm almost in tears. I've never, you know, I'm at the end of my rope, and that there's going to be eight guys on the other side of that text that can support that In that moment, and like the gift that's been for me personally is just knowing that that there is, is that extra layer of support that gets me through those hard times, makes me show up as a better parent and makes me show up as a better partner. And I just don't see it in the world, I see a lot of solo parenting, this kind of, to, you know, this partner parenting with no village, no community, and it's just an impossible, it's an impossible model destined for failure, compared to surrounding myself with a community of people that I trust and love and care about me and my kids and vice versa. And how do I keep fostering that, and it's been such a gift to go visit these guys, you know, around the Providence and actually meet them in person and see their families and have experiences and they only imagine, you know, as the Red Dead camp out, you know, probably will happen next summer, there's no we already have this community that's been building to, to again, have these meaningful experiences come together, celebrate the village we've been creating, and then build more because, you know, the dream is just to keep expanding. So people have these positive experiences and fatherhood.

Curt Storring 41:14

That is so powerful man. And it's been my experience in men's group in general. But to have that with fathers. I mean, that's the point of this project for me as well. It's the exact same thing, just like, can we get men's work men's groups into the hands of all dads, because like you said, this village, I think ought be sort of where we raise our families and this idea of this nuclear family. It's so destructive, in many ways. And like, I'm a capitalist, I love the West. And I really hate like the insular nature of how we raise our families right now. It's not supposed to be mom and dad versus the world, you're supposed to have uncles and aunts, and grandparents, and friends and other adults in their lives. And this is what I was talking to Nikki about, actually. And just like, how do you find this village in modern day? And so are there other aspects to rad dad? Or just what you've done, personally, that have allowed you to cultivate more of a village? Or is this sort of like v1? And now you're sort of ratcheting up?

David Stegman 42:22

Yeah, I'd say that, you know, part of the experience of building the right deck collective was being part of the mankind project before that I'm already pulling from kind of these conscious fatherhood people. So I also just want to put that note in there that it's like I'm pulling from a crowd of men who are already in this type work. So what I'm really looking forward to is how to go about for the average guy living in the average small town in somewhere and, you know, not surrounded by this men's community, to, to go out in the world and build that village for himself to create a meaningful experience of fatherhood, kind of wherever your geographic location. And I'd also challenge that to have like, there's a huge value of doing things online today with you know, if you do live in these places, and there isn't anybody to to connect with on that, it's like the amount of connection I've been able to achieve over the internet TOS is amazing now with video and everything like that. So you know, some some things I would point to, is really just take a risk, like most dads are lonely. Most dads are want to have connection, most dads don't really know what they're doing. You know, I see it in the women's space where women are, you know, much, much more often coming together supporting each other, you know, sharing tips, sharing struggles, and men are kind of not, you know, that's what I've just been seeing across the board. It's like, there's, there's the guys this in the background, and the women are kind of, quote unquote, parenting or coming together as their own unique village. And so it's, you know, it's just taking a risk. It's like, what do you like to do? You know, it's so much more enjoyable going to a playground with another dad, than to go alone. And it's like, Hey, you have a kid of similar age. Let's go, let's bring the kids to the playground doesn't have to be in any sort of Context of Men circle or constantly raising your personal development awareness. It can be as simple as how do I build friendships with other men on the same arc as me around fatherhood. And again, it takes work it takes time, but it's worth it in my experience a second makes the journey that much more fulfilling, having other dads on that journey close by so that I you know, have that support have the people to play games with? Have fun with? Yeah. And again, I ever want to have more just, I guess what it is like, just get creative. It's like what would be creative, I didn't shine. And I've thought a lot about this like, an idea is the Arad dad Invitational, it's like, invite five guys to go out for dinner. And they have to invite five guys to that you don't really know, you know, do that once a month for a year, I think that's gonna be my stretch for next year have like some version of that, where it's like, how do I just do an activity that's, I enjoy anyways, and incorporate other dads and foster this building of relationships and community. And as I say, the switch from men's work to red dad for me is that the red dye collective has to check more boxes of not just personal development. So it has to be my social thing. It has to be, you know, having fun, it has to be, you know, many different things where when I was doing men's work before, it was kind of like, Go hard go deep, you know, rah, rah, rah, you know, push against this and that. And as a parent, it's more like, actually just want to enjoy myself. Be have fun, do some personal work. And it's just a different flavor.

Curt Storring 46:25

Yeah, that is the one thing from our last conversation that has stuck with me, which is like batching, your fun, and your social and your kid time and your outdoor time? Because it's busy. Like, I don't want to go do each. I don't want to do an hour of each one of those things. Like at all. I could do them all. If I could do them all at once. That sounds amazing. And so that one thing is just stuck with me since we talked and it's like, yeah, how does that look. And so I've started sort of reaching out to people locally to just see if we can go to the zoo together. Like, let's go for a hike together, like whatever that looks like, bring the kids. And let's just talk. And I love that there's sort of this disconnect from just the men's group thing, because so much of that work is what I focused on and bringing this men's work because I think a lot of dads just need to like, you know, have that awareness for this light to flick on and be like, oh, right, I'm suffering or I'm struggling or whatever. And then where do you go from there and it sounds like just be just be with other men just like establish friendships. Because when you're no longer suffering so much. And I think that's an important caveat, because five years ago, I could never have done this. But now it's like this is the biggest thing missing in my life is just close local friendships. So are there any other tips or any like ideas you guys have had, that maybe men can start doing in their own communities? Whether it's like, oh, this worked really well together guys, we didn't know or like this activity seems like a good way to get people. Were there other brainstorms that might help dads do this in their own communities right now.

David Stegman 47:59

Again, it's coming back just invite invite, you know, I'd get out a piece of paper, your list all the dads I know in the community. You know, I've done this, it's like, I probably know 30 Dads locally here are more in the circles like Who do I want a deeper relationship with who's kind of sparked my curiosity he might want to spend a little bit of time with and again, it's reaching out and say, hey, you know, let's go for that hike. Let's go for a beer let's go for whatever that looks like. Bring along the kids it doesn't have to be you know, just you and the guys sitting in a cafe somewhere it's okay I have young kids you have young kid there's so much easier to parent with other kids of similar ages around you know, reaching out to communities that already exists, you know, mankind projects, great ones, Samurai Brotherhood, which you're involved in another great one is just like a baseline you know, getting into a community where there might know people who are you know, local in your area that's been useful. Again, just prioritize, like make this a priority. If you're not making building community priority, it's not just gonna let it land on your lap and I think that's a huge one is there's a lot of talk of I want this community I want you know, this village and how much work are you actually putting into that? How many hours a week are you consciously reaching out or thinking about who do I want in my village? Who's already in my village? Who might I lean on again? Who can I bring back into my life to be part of this and have fun with it? It's like again, I so much if this is just how to be creative, have fun. Yeah, and hold on to that rope.

Curt Storring 49:51

That's an excellent call out by the way. I feel called like, how much work are you doing on this? Yeah, not enough. Not enough. All, and I'm just making notes of like the guys that I know who are, it's like, oh, maybe I'll just reach out to them next, thank you for lighting that fire to my ass and I hope everyone else is listening

David Stegman 50:09

a lot something to if you can make a you can turn to a not meaningful experience into a more meaningful experience. But even just doing a little check in at the beginning, as a group of guys, it's like, What's your intention to be here? You know, how you feel in this moment. You know, love loves you guys all showed up, just want to do a quick check in round see wherever it's at. And, you know, there's no right or wrong way to do this. But it would have noticed with men is there's a craving to go deeper, and there's not the invitation. So to have the courage, just, you know, invite men to go a little bit deeper, can really open up the floodgates of vulnerability of connection. Instead of spending two hours at a surface level, and nothing really gets said, that's anything meaningful. So again, a little simple check in, you know, what's your tension little check out at the end, as you guys all you know, what was that? Like? You know, how are we all leaving? Now? What's the takeaway from, you know, hanging out together? Again, it's hitting these personal development markers, but it doesn't have to be sitting in a circle, you know, with candles and you know, rah,

Curt Storring 51:19

rah rah shadow, work and cry.

David Stegman 51:22

Exactly, you know, it's not the time and space, but there's an element of vulnerability you get your kids to check in, it's really fun to to be like, you know, where are you at? How are you feeling in this moment? You know, what do you hope to get out of playing with your friends today? You know, all of this is that modeling of vulnerability, especially as a man, that it's like, it's okay to talk about your feelings, okay? To ask for, you know, what you want. It's okay to not really know what you want. But just the intention of connection and being together.

Curt Storring 51:52

Hmm, that feels so good. That just feels like so good. I'm noticing my body and like, Man, I would love to just have that little check in and then and go deeper and that I just wrote down in big letters here. There's a craving, but not an invite, to go deeper. That that's powerful shit, man. I love that. I really think that this is probably the right time to wrap it up just with that like that is so impactful for me, is there anything else that's brought up in parenting or fatherhood or growth that you think would be useful for man just to close out this conversation? Or feel free to let us know where we can find you and work with you just sort of pumped that to you for now.

David Stegman 52:36

You know, I named my name my company, the courageous way, as a reminder of always to be courageous, because so much of this work as parents is like, how do I courageously keep moving forward? And how do I courageously ask other men to be vulnerable? How do I courageously be vulnerable myself? So you know, what I leave you with is like, what would just be 10% more courageous as a parent look like are 20% more courageous as a parent look like, of building that village about getting through the hard times about asking your partner for what you're actually needing the relationship to looking for the help that you need, it's like, and so you know, there's help out there, there's people to support you. You know, I'm one of many resources, when it comes to this kind of stuff. I love what you're doing just having a podcast that people could tune into love your Instagram as well of just that bite size. Like, I'm not alone. I'm not alone in this. There's other people out there, doing similar struggles in their skill sets to overcome that this communities to overcome that, you know, my hope is that it's just normalized. I always, I always hope that as men circulars communist going to the gym, you know, I'd love to see that where it's like, I'm just going to my main circle, everyone hasn't been circle, you know, what a world that would be, if everyone had this level of support. So, you know, I see you, Kurt, as part of that, creating that world. I'm part of that there's a lot of men out there, you know, working towards this goal of supporting other men. So yeah, a couple places you can find me the courageous way.com is my personal coaching practice. And then Red Dead. collective.org is around red dot collective, even if you're just a father, and you want to reach out and connect, and I'm always open to jump on a zoom call, see where you're at. Just want to connect with good people doing good work. So finally,

Curt Storring 54:30

gather courage, man. And I just want to say, I have not coached with you yet, perhaps one day, but I know that you are a good coach and a good listener. And intentional because of a question you asked me on our call. I think the question was, what would the ideal outcome of this call be? That's like, oh, like, I love good questions like that. And so I just want to you know, suggest that if you've never had someone ask you it's such a revealing deep question to get to the point and cut through the bullshit You know, I've experienced that with David. So yeah, man, thank you so much for being so open and vulnerable with this. And I just loved having you on the show. Thank

David Stegman 55:10

you. Thank you so much. Keep this ball rolling and talk to you soon.

Curt Storring 55:14

Please

That's it for this episode. Thank you so much for listening. It means the world to find out more about everything that we talked about in the episode today, including Show Notes resources and links to subscribe leave a review work with us go to dad dot work slash pod. That's da d w o RK slash pod. type that into your browser just like a normal URL, Dad dot work slash pod. To find everything there you need to become a better man, a better partner and a better father. Thanks again for listening, and we'll see you next time.

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