Love and Gratitude for Time Well Spent

A farewell from the previous Illuman Administrator, Brad Pickel. Originally published in the November 2021 Drumbeat Newsletter.

Wow. It’s hard to believe that I began this position almost eight years ago! With wide eyes and an open heart, I jumped at the chance to work part-time with a startup organization for men who wanted to make a difference in the world. At that time, I had recently ended a beach management consulting contract in the Florida Panhandle and wasn’t sure what would be next. I had only been on the edge of M.A.L.Es and Illuman after being initiated in West Virginia in 2011, so I was intrigued and excited on the afternoon when I received the Drumbeat email with the job announcement. I remember it like it was yesterday. I was on a phone call with my Illuman Brother Tony, and right away, I knew it was work I wanted to do. My response was drafted and submitted within 48 hours.

It’s the hardest work I have ever loved. Those early days were a mixture of hair on fire, drinking from a fire hose, building the plane while flying it—insert your metaphor here. On numerous occasions, a request would come to me and deep inside I would be thinking, “How in the world are we going to pull THIS off?” while always saying, “Yes, sure, we can do that.” And magically, we made it happen, more often than not! It also helps when you are a Three and your Board Chair is a Seven on the Enneagram. Positive outlook and efficiency are powerful partners!

Looking back, I have had the gift of working with such beautiful men over the years that I would never try to name them all—and, in Steve’s offering below, we are acknowledging many of them. They have helped build the container that is Illuman. Illuman is not a monument to be worshiped at the top of a hill. It is an organism formed through the often-unrecognized efforts and affirming love and care offered by the numerous volunteers who roll up their sleeves to do the hard work.

New men are coming into the organization and new voices and perspectives are being expressed. This is an exciting time of friction and growth and I hold high hopes that we will remember that we are Brothers with varied life experiences and imperfections. Our common thread isn’t that we are better than other men, but we are here because we recognize we need this work. Compassion and patience will continue to serve us well as we grow.

Going forward, I am grateful for all I have learned and experienced. I am a better small business owner, non-profit manager, husband, brother, and man because of this work. I have also learned how little any role or responsibility can describe who I am. I am not what I do. I only hope that in your experience with me you have felt seen, heard, and loved, as those are the gifts I will take with me from this time together. Friends are the family you choose, and I have experienced my Illuman family grow beyond my wildest dreams.

I will bid farewell to this role at the end of December, and I leave you in great hands with your new Administrator. His name is Mike Clawson, and you will learn more about him soon. He is a good man with a servant’s heart. Give him some time and he will do great things! I will be taking a sabbatical for a little while and tending to my soul’s journey. I wish everyone all the best and I will miss you! I leave you with love and gratitude for this special time in my life that has afforded me innumerable gifts and wisdom. A-ho!