Understanding Resilience, Mentorship, and Masculinity: Insights from Jamil Jivani

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Well folks – this was my first in-person, professionally-shot Podcast. I learned SO much from this experience and I’m thankful to have interviewed one of the most interesting up-and-coming names in Canadian politics: Jamil Jivani. By the end of the conversation, I felt this deep affiliation with Jamil – almost like we were family. Some of his experiences reminded me of my own and what took me back was his resiliency to meet life’s challenges. Jamil’s confidence exuded throughout the conversation and his willingness to get into the weeds and answer more difficult questions.

Resilience in the Face of Adversity

At the age of 16, he was publicly labeled as illiterate by the public school system in Ontario. This experience could have easily crushed someone’s spirit, but Jamil leaned into it, leading to a complete 180-degree transformation. He discusses how this experience changed him and set him on a course that many would not dare to tread.

“Failing the literacy tests here in Ontario, you go through some kind of public humiliation because they make you come back to school the next year to do it again, so everyone knows you failed,” Jamil recalls. It was a devastating experience that not only highlighted the unforgiving nature of life but also how easily people can question your potential based solely on what’s written on a piece of paper.

He emphasizes, “You don’t know who you are yet. You don’t know what you’re capable of.” For young people facing adversity, his message is clear: don’t judge yourself solely based on your current circumstances because you may not even know your full potential yet.

The Role of Mentorship

Mentorship played a pivotal role in Jamil’s journey from a struggling student to a successful author, speaker, and advocate. He highlights how mentors, often professors, saw potential in him and believed in his abilities when he had almost given up on himself. They provided the affirmation and encouragement he needed to start believing in his capabilities.

Reflecting on his experience, Jamil emphasizes that mentorship can come in various forms and from unexpected sources. It’s not limited to individuals who share the same background or life experiences. He encourages young people to be open-minded about who can guide and support them, emphasizing the importance of surrounding oneself with those who believe in their potential.

Furthermore, he underlines the significance of mentorship that empowers individuals to believe in themselves, rather than making them dependent on external factors or ideologies. True mentors encourage self-confidence and offer guidance on building skills and strengths, ultimately enabling individuals to take charge of their lives.

Overcoming Negative Feedback

Negative feedback can be demoralizing, especially for young people facing challenges. Jamil acknowledges that many have heard discouraging words or faced criticism in their lives. He advises against allowing such negativity to define one’s existence. Instead, he suggests seeking out those who recognize one’s strengths and good qualities.

He also stresses the importance of not internalizing the role of a victim. While acknowledging the unfairness and challenges individuals may face, he emphasizes the need for them to believe in their strength and resilience. Rather than relying on systemic changes, he advocates for personal effort and self-improvement as powerful tools for overcoming adversity.

The Changing Landscape of Masculinity

Jamil Jivani’s book, Why Young Men, delves into the complex topic of masculinity in today’s society. He discusses how the concept of masculinity is evolving, particularly in the face of significant economic changes. Traditional roles of men as sole providers for their families are shifting, leading many young men to question their place in a changing world.

Economic shifts have led to a sense of uncertainty for many young men. They may struggle to define their roles in a society where women are increasingly excelling academically and in the workforce. Jamil acknowledges the challenges this poses and explores the importance of redefining masculinity to encompass various roles and contributions that extend beyond traditional expectations.

He also addresses the reluctance to openly discuss masculinity in the current social and political climate. Jamil argues that avoiding these conversations leaves young boys without guidance on what it means to be a man. He encourages open dialogue about the significance of masculinity and its multifaceted nature.

The Importance of Acceptance and Belonging

One of the central themes that emerge from Jamil’s discussion is the fundamental human need for acceptance and belonging. He explores how young men, feeling disconnected from Western society, seek acceptance in various ways, often turning to extremist ideologies or groups when they feel alienated.

Jamil highlights the economic changes that have left many young men grappling with their roles in families and communities. As the traditional breadwinner role becomes less certain, young men must redefine their contributions and seek alternative ways to find purpose and belonging.

Moreover, he emphasizes the importance of surrounding oneself with a supportive peer group. He encourages young people to assess whether their friends and acquaintances positively influence their lives. The people they choose to spend time with can significantly impact their growth and well-being.

Identity and Leadership

One of the key points Jamil emphasizes is the importance of embracing one’s identity while also being open to self-improvement. For young people, especially, this can be a transformative concept. Understanding who you are, where you come from, and the unique perspectives you bring to the table is crucial for personal growth and leadership development.

However, Jamil also highlights the significance of service and humility in leadership. Being of service to others, whether in your community, family, or workplace, is a powerful way to lead by example. It’s a reminder that leadership is not just about personal achievement but also about lifting others up and making a positive impact on the world.

Remixed Racism: A New Challenge

In a thought-provoking article titled “A New Challenge for Canadians of Any Colour: Remixed Racism,” Jamil introduces the concept of “remixed racism.” Drawing parallels with the remixes found in hip-hop music, he explains how certain institutions have taken old, harmful ideas about race and repackaged them as progressive ideals.

One alarming example he highlights is a training program within Global Affairs Canada. This program equates ideas like perfectionism, objectivity, and individualism with white supremacist ideologies. The absurdity of this perspective becomes evident when considering the implications for future diplomats who will represent Canada abroad.

Jamil’s message is clear: we should be deeply concerned about how these ideas are creeping into our institutions. It’s crucial to recognize that “remixed racism” is still racism, and we must challenge these misguided notions of identity and race.

Conclusion: Embracing Resilience, Mentorship, and Evolving Masculinity

Jamil Jivani’s remarkable journey from a struggling student to a prominent advocate for resilience, mentorship, and evolving masculinity serves as an inspiring example for all. His insights into the power of mentorship, the need for self-belief, and the changing landscape of masculinity provide valuable lessons for navigating the challenges of today’s world.

If you’d like to explore more of Jamil Jivani’s insights and writings, you can visit his Substack page at https://jamiljivani.substack.com.

Watch this full interview on Youtube: https://youtu.be/kCxLOvJFZHU?si=2mmEZBCGX2zO9vmS