“People’s business stories are an extension of their personal stories and personal belief systems.”
The Man Whisperer
Kenny has been holding men’s groups for around 20 years. He is clear that he is not a doctor or psychotherapist, and many of his clients also also work with healthcare professionals. Instead, the groups focus on talking and creating a safe place for men to open up to one another.
“What is it inside of you that needs to come out and express itself?” he asks rhetorically, explaining the philosophy at the heart of his work. “I believe that when people are on purpose and in alignment with themselves, then life supports them.”
The core of Kenny’s work is summed up in two words: I am. He believes that coming from this place of deep self-knowledge and comfort with oneself allows us to come into our own power and then empower others in turn. People often pretend to be something they’re not, particularly in the age of social media, but worrying about what other people think alienates us from ourselves.
He believes this can apply to business, too. “People’s business stories are an extension of their personal stories and personal belief systems.”
“So we went into isolation and it was perhaps the second day when I noticed I was looking out at the road and expecting to see the military…
COVID, Lockdown, and Beyond
At the beginning of the COVID pandemic, Kenny and his wife were on their way home from the theatre when he received a text message that a colleague was showing symptoms of the virus.
“So we went into isolation and it was perhaps the second day when I noticed I was looking out at the road and expecting to see the military, because that’s what I was used to from Uganda,” he says. “We had a curfew and if they decided to turn on people, they’d beat people up, put them in prison, shoot them. If people were talking on the streets, it could be seen as a conspiracy against the government.”
Kenny describes the early days of lockdown as like listening to the silent spaces between gunfire, except the gunfire didn’t come. This reaction is what is known as a flashback and is a common response to trauma that can be extremely distressing.
Kenny realised that if his past traumas had been triggered by the lockdown, others were bound to be experiencing something similar. He is now working with groups of men via daily online check-ins.
Many of Kenny’s clients are self-employed and business owners in a wide variety of industries who have been struggling for much of the last year. He explains that many men retreat into feelings of shame, feeling as though they cannot discuss their problems, or fall into the trap of blaming themselves or other people. He helps men to “feel their feelings but not be taken over by them, and choose how to respond.”
Many experts have suggested that the mental health fallout from the pandemic will be at least as destructive as the virus itself. Kenny believes that it will be the next chapter. People have faced many challenges over the last year, whether in the form of illness, grief, economic problems, or extended isolation, and the effects will still be felt as we slowly emerge from lockdown. Our lives, our workplaces, and the economy will likely be changed for good.