A few weeks ago I started clearing a corner of the shed and putting up a pegboard for all my tools, then last weekend I got stuck into building a workbench.

Workbench under construction

My workbench under construction

As I was working on the project, it occurred to me that a large percentage of men don’t do anything constructive either at work or at home. Office workers for example, attend meetings, sit in front of computers, write documents and shuffle papers. None of these activities provide them with the physical challenges men really need.

Many of the people I have met over the years have no constructive hobbies. By this I mean they may follow sport or enjoy the movies but they don’t do anything that involves physical labour that culminates in a sense of achievement.

Last Tuesday I attended a Rotary dinner where I met a man who runs a government funded men’s centre. The centre provides counselling for men who have become lost in society.

One significant thing these men have in common with each other is that their self-esteem has been slowly eroding away, to the extent that they have completely lost confidence in themselves. Often they have no job, no immediate family (by choice or circumstance) and they have lost hope ‘? they have given up on themselves.

Back to my work bench’?

I didn’t buy any materials to build my workbench; I hunted around the yard. I had a long piece of timber under the house that I cut for the four posts and the rest of the timber came from scraps that were stacked out in the weather near the back fence or on the trailer ready to go to the tip. The shelf was once the top of a broken coffee table and the dark timber bracing the back is the top is off an old desk.

Completed workbench

The completed workbench. Now I'm sorting out my tools so I can make the shadow board

I’m no carpenter, I’ve never made a workbench before and I didn’t have a pattern, so constructing a bench from scraps was a challenge. The materials at hand dictated the size and form the bench would need to take.

When I finished, I felt a great sense of satisfaction. It is solid and it is functional. From a pile of junk that was lying around the yard, I now have a workbench. I have challenged myself and in succeeding, have helped fed my own self-esteem.

Back to the men’s group’?

All men need opportunities to be challenged and opportunities to work as a team to resolve problems.

Counselling for men is a great start, but to really get results and help men regain their self-esteem, I think counseling for men should be done in conjunction with activities that are physically and mentally challenging.

Why not challenge men who have lost faith in themselves by asking them, as a group, to build something? Even if they have no skills, they will construct something ‘? and whether or not it is good is of no consequence, because the shared challenge will give them the opportunity to do something constructive.

It is through doing something constructive that men are challenged and it is through succeeding at these challenges individuals will begin to regain their self-esteem. If they work as a team, each of them will share in the experience and benefit from a shared sense of heightened self-esteem.

Do you give yourself enough physical challenges?