By RICK WATSON
With the economic tsunami in recent years, men have been looking for answers amidst the loss of jobs and other major life transitions. Where have they found them? One place is The True Measure of a Man, a book written by Richard E. Simmons III of Homewood.
Mike Fox, head baseball coach for the University of North Carolina, said the book is life changing: “It not only changed me and my priorities, but it changed the way I coach.”
Simmons, who is the director of the Center for Executive Leadership (CFEL) in Homewood, explained that men today get their sense of self worth from how well they perform in the workplace. When they lose their jobs, their sense of self worth is battered, and their sense of identity becomes threatened.
“Men are driven not by the desire to succeed, but by the fear of failure,” he said. “Failure is like a psychological death to most men. They fear what people will think of them.”
In years past, men in this country based their self worth on relationships – as a father, a husband, a son, a friend of other men, and as a member of the community. Work was just a means of contributing to the quality of life in the community, but something changed.
The message of The True Measure of a Man provides hope and points the way to a path that can help men discover what really matters most in their lives.
The self-published book hit the shelves late in 2009. The first and second printings sold so quickly that Simmons realized the book had potential for broader appeal. That’s when he went shopping for a publisher. He decided on Evergreen Press because the publisher offered a more timely publication date.
While Simmons has a full-time person marketing the book, much of the buzz came on the heels of interviews in The Birmingham News, the Lee Davis radio talk show in Birmingham, the Steve Brown syndicated radio show in Orlando, Fla., and several other talk shows across the country. He plans to continue working with the media to raise the level of awareness about his work.
Big time endorsements from The Wall Street Journal writer Fred Barnes and other heavy hitters in sports, business and religion added momentum.
Simmons speaks frequently to various civic organizations and churches, which gives him the opportunity to sell books. He also speaks to the management teams of large corporations like Brasfield and Gorrie and Altec.
“The message hit home with a lot of men,” said Simmons. “Some guys buy the book and are so moved by the message that they buy copies for their friends who are going through hard times.”
Simmons began asking himself questions about his own life several years ago, and the quest for answers provided some of the insights captured in his book.
He was a successful insurance executive early in his career and married for the first time at 41. Eighteen months later, he and his wife Holly welcomed Dixon, the first of three children (Dorothy Pate and Will followed). He was traveling a lot, which caused complications in his life. Simmons realized things needed to change.
He decided to leave the insurance industry and start CFEL in 2002. The organization coaches men through professional career counseling and Bible study.
The mission of CFEL is to provide guidance and counseling to men, especially during that time in a man’s life when things haven’t turned out the way he might have planned. Some people call this a midlife crisis, but Simmons feels a better description is “spiritual crisis.”
Simmons and the team at CFEL started doing programs for local professionals at the Birmingham Country Club several times a year. One of the presentations contained the essence of the message in The True Measure of a Man and a friend suggested that Simmons write a book based on the presentation.
Simmons said one of his goals is to get the book reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. He feels the message of The True Measure of a Man has the potential to speak into the lives of executives and businessmen across the country.
What’s next for Simmons? “I spent the first 30 years of my working life focusing on success,” he said. “I want to spend the rest of my life trying to make a difference.”
You can purchase The True Measure of a Man at Barnes & Noble, Books a Million, Little Professor, Family Christian Stores, Church of the Highlands Bookstore, Briarwood Bookstore and all the Daily Cup Coffee stores, as well as online from Amazon.com.