Archives for June 23, 2016

Man Of The Week – Matt Tod

Our newest Man Of The Week is Matt Tod, a speaker, facilitator and coach to youth and our millennials. Matt faced much uncertainty about where his life was going when graduating from university, and after working for a few years, he quickly noticed a growing level of unhappiness in his life. Upon reflecting on this tough period, Matt did what many of us shy away from, asking ourselves “What do I need to be happy?” and begun to action his life. Surprisingly to him, life began to present him with opportunities to live in alignment with the way he so deeply desired. Matt’s finely tuned level of self-awareness allowed him to discover his life’s purpose, which is to serve others, to help them become better versions of themselves and to support their development. The roller coaster of life forced Matt to step into severely vulnerable spaces in his life which required him to step up to be the man him and his family needed, from holding his first son and learning how to be selfless to the passing of family members and learning that grief is a journey of perseverance and not something to get over. Today Matt serves as the Associate Director of Learning & Performance Development for Free The Children and Me to We. He’s got an inspiring story that is sure to impact the lives of youth worldwide and motivate us to leave the world in a better place that we found it.

Age – 34

What do you do? (Work)
In my day to day, I serve as the Associate Director of Learning and Performance Development for Free The Children and Me to We. In addition to that, I’m also a Youth and Millennial Leadership speaker, facilitator and coach.

Why do you do it?
There are lots of reasons I feel that I do what I’m doing. A big part of it is because it aligns with my values and my strengths. Serving others, helping them become better versions on themselves and supporting others growth and development helps me be a better version of myself as well. I want to contribute in a meaningful way in making the world, our community, and ourselves better. I have a strong passion for serving young people and I think that’s where I really found my spark. I don’t think I could do anything else and be as fulfilled as I am when I’m supporting and learning from others.

How do you make a difference in the world? (Work, business, life, family, self)
I think we all have the opportunity to make a difference in a meaningful way each and every day. One question I often ask myself in the morning is “what difference do I want to make today?” When I do that, I can look at what’s coming up for the day and decide where I can have the biggest impact. Sometimes that is at work when I’m supporting new staff who are just joining our team; other times its by being a present and patient father for my incredible 4-year old son. I want to make a difference in the lives of the people I connect with and I want to live by example as much as possible.

What are 3 defining moments in your life?
I think I’ve been fortunate to have many defining moments in my life. Defining moments are really about those moments when you’re called to show up. Those moments when you’re required to be your best. Three that come to mind, in particular, would be:
– The moment I graduated from University- I was the first person in my family to complete post-secondary so that was a pretty big deal for me. I remember sitting there in my convocation thinking “ok, now what?” It was a moment where I had to really start to think about what was important to me and what I wanted to do with everything I had worked for up until that point
– The birth of my son, Hunter– Definitely a defining moment as it was a shift in my identity as a man and how I saw myself. I was lucky to be part of my son’s birth (we did a home birth) so experiencing that was incredible. After that, everything shifted. I didn’t realize how selfish I was until I had a tiny human who I was partly responsible for keeping alive. And, to be honest, I wasn’t awesome at it all for the first little while. It took me some time to figure out my new role.
– The death of my dad- My dad passed away suddenly this past summer. He was just about to turn 57. Death is difficult for everyone, I’m sure, but at the time there had been a lot going on for him and my mom – they had just lost their business, had to sell their house and were about to move out 2 days before it all happened. When it did happen, all of a sudden, there was a lot of pressure and responsibility thrown on to me (and our family). The experience taught me so much about grief and that it’s not something you get over but something you have to go through. This is especially important to understand as men, I think. I’m one of three boys and we all dealt with our grief in very different ways. It taught me that there’s no one way to grieve and to honour what you feel.

What is your life purpose?
My life’s purpose is to grow and develop myself and the people around me (in that order). I want to not only help people be their best in the moments that matter the most, but also to help others live the best possible version of their lives. I’ve been so fortunate to, at an early age, be put on my life’s path.

How did you tap into it?
I reflected quite a bit on where I was in my life at a time when I wasn’t really happy. The work I was doing didn’t provide me with purpose or meaning and I was feeling a lot of (unnecessary) stress about it. So I stepped back and asked myself “what do I need to be happy?” It came down to three things: I wanted to work with youth as a young person myself, I wanted to be a positive role model for others (especially other males) and I wanted to have purpose and meaning in my day-to-day work. When I became aware of that, opportunities started to present themselves.

Who is your Role-Model or Mentor?
I’ve been really fortunate to have a lot of positive role models in my life. It’s hard to choose just one. What I will say though is that I’ve worked hard to create a group of people I can go to for different aspects of my life. If I had to choose, I would say that, though he recently passed away, my Dad has been more of a role-model for me now (having become a father) than he was before. It kind of sucks to say that, but I have these moments as a Dad now where I go “oh…I get it now…” and I think of how my Dad approached a certain situation or how he chose to raise each of us.

Do you have any daily habits? If so, what are they?
I’ve got a few. One thing I do every Sunday is sit down for 20-30 minutes and plan out my week. I call it “Set Yourself Sunday”. I take a look at where I’ll be, what commitments I have, what are my priorities, and I’ll set goals and actions. This keeps me on top of things and provides me with a sense of control in a, sometimes, very hectic life. I also have some morning and evening routines that I’ve been doing for a long time: Every morning I get up and do one of four things (sometimes all): I read, I journal, I meditate and/or I work out. This provides me with a solid start to the day and centers me. At night, I read, journal, meditate and/or take a bath. Just having a morning and nighttime ritual really helps me stay focused, recharged and healthy.

When do you know your work/life balance is off?
I don’t really believe in work/life balance but, when I start to recognize something is off is usually when I start backing out of commitments or I start to lose connection with the people closest too me. That’s a pretty good indicator that I need to stop, re-evaluate, and reset.

Vulnerability is a challenge for most men – share a vulnerable moment from your life with us.
I think one of the most vulnerable moments I’ve ever had was when I openly started talking about my anxiety in University. I had been diagnosed with generalized anxiety and hid it from my friends and family for a really long time. Eventually, it got harder to manage without help and I needed to reach out for more support.

What did you learn from it?
That we all struggle and that it’s ok to not be ok sometimes. The important thing (for me at least) was to start the conversation and to use the story of my struggle as a way to heal and to help.

If you are or were going to be a mentor for another man, what is one piece of advice you would give him?
There would be two: Awareness creates choice. And choice creates change. Self awareness is such an important part of growth and development. It’s so important to take the time to stop, reflect and spend some quality time with yourself away from all the distractions we have in our life.
The second is that you don’t need to be the best all the time. You only need to be your best in the moments that matter the most. It’s up to you to determine what your best looks like and when those moments present themselves.

How do you be the best partner (Boyfriend/Husband- past or present)
I think I’ve struggled with this a bit more than some guys so I’m hesitant to give advice. What I would say is that it’s important to really understand and align values and beliefs – both yours and that of your partner. I think being the best partner is about really listening and understanding. It’s about being able to put your needs aside for the needs of the relationship.

Do you support any Charities or Not-for-profits? (Which one(s) and why?)
I work full-time for a charity, does that count? Aside from my work, I really try to support any organization or charity that serves youth. This is something I feel strongly about.

If your life had a theme song, what would it be?
Right now, I think I’d say Truth by Alexander

Where do you see yourself in 3 years?
I’d like to be spending more time with my son. Surrounded by good people, doing work that provides purpose and serves others. I’d like to be reaching more people through speaking, facilitating and writing.

What legacy do you want to leave for future generations?
I want to leave a legacy of self awareness. It’s pretty much a super power. I want to help others become more self-aware, challenge their beliefs and find potential in themselves that they never knew they had.

What One book would you recommend for any Man?
Resilience by Eric Grietens.

Who is one Man you think our readers would love to read about in future ‘Man Of The Week’ features? Spencer West or Alex Meers – these are two of my greatest friends. Solid men and brothers. Both of them are inspiring, humble and constantly challenge me to be a better version of myself.

If you know a Man that is making a positive impact on the world, we would love to hear from you! Contact us at [email protected]


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