jason mackenzie

How Embracing Vulnerability will Strengthen your Resolve and Manhood with Jason MacKenzie

Jason MacKenzie, founder of the Book of Open, had what all of us wanted. Rising on the corporate ladder, two wonderful daughters and a beautiful wife, Jason seemed to have it all-until he didn’t.

“What we don’t realize is this vulnerability reveals our strengths and allows others to learn from our brokenness.”  TWEET THAT

 The “Perfect” Life

The family looks great in the picture. Everyone is smiling; the leaves are falling just so in the background and the day looks as if it couldn’t be more perfect. But it’s not.

Pictures take a frame of time and distort it. What happens in the next frame, or the one after that? The thing is, the picture only tells part of the story; figuratively speaking, scratch the surface of that family photo and you just may find that everything isn’t all that perfect. Sometimes real life is like this, we keep up appearances so that no one can see what is real underneath.

Jason MacKenzie on Keeping it Real

Real makes us vulnerable, real can be scary. But what happens when life makes us face the reality? It is in these intersections that we find out what we are made of. Maybe that’s why life’s realities can be so hard to face, what we are really afraid of is whether or not we are made of tough enough stuff.

Having it all and then losing it in an instant

The life that Jason Mackenzie had longed for was ripped out from underneath him when the mother of his daughters was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. After years of trying to hide the pain of watching his wife literally fall apart before him, Jason had to face the reality that his dream life was gone. His wife committed suicide and left him to raise their two daughters on his own. To deal with the pain of his wife’s condition, Jason turned to drinking. Even after her death, Jason continued into an alcoholic stupor.

Self-Destruction or Empowerment through Vulnerability?

It was at this point that Jason had to make a choice: continue on the self-destructive path and have his daughters watch him deteriorate, or face his reality. With the help of his current wife, Jason decided to stop drinking and take control of his new life. He became vulnerable and did what seemed almost impossible for him to do before, ask for help. So many times as men, we are conditioned to fix problems on our own; asking for help makes us feel weak or incapable. What we don’t realize is this vulnerability reveals our strengths and allows others to learn from our brokenness, especially those closest to us.

Gratitude is a Powerful Force for Strength

As we’ve said many times on the GDP, a grateful attitude can change the way we view situations and circumstances. In the case of Jason Mackenzie, he decided to look at the difficulties he faced and see them from a place of gratitude. Now part of his morning routine, Jason faces tough challenges with a thankful heart because he knows these obstacles are merely vehicles to be of service to others. Through his despair, Jason has been able to help other men confront their own challenges and overcome the fear of vulnerability. He helps them see that the picture isn’t perfect, but it doesn’t have to be and truly, it’s the imperfections that make life’s portrait beautiful.

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Jason MacKenzie Links:

Jason’s  Twitter

Jason’s Blog The Book of Open

Jason’s Facebook

Thank you for checking out this week’s show with Jason MacKenzie, Founder of the Book of Open.

jason mackenzie

Drunk to Monk by Jason MacKenzie

Jason MackenzieJason Mackenzie drank  for a long time. He drank to cope with his wife’s battle with bipolar disorder. He drank to cope with her suicide. He drank for years afterwards so he didn’t have to grieve her death. And he drank so he didn’t have to try to be the man his heart knew he could be.  Jason Mackenzie submitted this article to the Good Dad Project from his own blog, The Book of Open.  I have to tell you, he really opens up his world with this article.  It’s incredibly impactful.  Sit back, hold on tight…this article is a game changer.

The Decision to Quit Drinking

Quitting drinking was one of the greatest choices I have made in my life so far. It’s changed everything for me in ways that still amaze me every day. The interesting thing is, I don’t regret drinking. It would be pointless to waste time mired in regret. The benefit of freeing myself and knowing what I am capable of far outweighs the costs I incurred.

The Lessons Learned

The lessons I have learned have made me a much better father than I would have been otherwise. There is so much wisdom to be gained from picking ourselves up off the floor and moving forward.   When our character is tested and we overcome, we are changed forever.
I created a persona that I projected to the world for a long time. I was living someone else’s life because I thought I was supposed to. That person is long gone and will never return. I did it out of fear that the real me wasn’t good enough. Far too many of us still live our lives this way.


One of the most important lessons I’ve learned is the power of vulnerability. I define vulnerability as loving yourself enough to have the courage to share your story. It means loving yourself as you are and not as how you think people want you to be. When you put yourself out there you create a place of safety that will draw people to you. You’ll build connections with people that are deep and meaningful. And real.

What did this have to do with parenting?

You’re wondering at this point what this has to do with parenting. My oldest daughter is twelve years old. She is an athlete to her core. She is always moving her body and expresses herself through her athletics. She always, always brings her A game whether its to practice or competition. She inspires me to push harder and be better.

She does not like reading. In fact we’ve realized that she is a bit behind in her reading ability and it is starting to affect her at school. It’s not a crisis by any means but something we need to work together to improve. She was very upset about it so I needed to handle it with care.

We sat down and talked. The first thing I told her was that we’re both responsible for right now and for what we do about it. We’re a team. I explained that I felt like I let her down by not paying more attention to how her reading was progressing. I assumed everything was fine and that was a mistake on my part. It was a chance to talk about how we can learn from mistakes and make course corrections.

Reaching Out for Help

I asked why she didn’t ask for help when she fell behind. Her response was, “The other kids didn’t need help and I wanted to be like them. I wanted to do it on my own.” I understand that feeling completely.

“I drank too much for a long time. I needed help but I was too afraid to ask for it. I was worried about what people would think about me if I asked. I was worried about asking for help and still failing.  So, I pretended everything was OK and I kept struggling for a lot longer than I needed to. Mommy was right there wanting to help me and I wouldn’t let her.

The Lesson Learned

“You know what I learned from that? I learned that when you try your best and then ask for help, people will help you. They will want you to succeed. I ask for help all the time now. I’m not afraid to say when I don’t know something. People respect me more because of it. I learned that lesson at forty-one. I’m so happy we have a chance to talk about it when you’re twelve. You’re almost thirty years ahead of me!”

I could tell by her facial expression and body language that my words resonated with her. They made me human and helped her realize that we’re not so different. I created a safe harbor for her to take refuge in when seas are stormy. Will she use it? Time will tell, but I am optimistic. She’s a great kid.

The Power of Our Own Story and Struggle

The fact that I own my story is what allowed me to tell it to her. I’m not afraid of her thinking less of me. I know she’ll think more of me because I am willing to take what I have learned and use it to help her. Regardless of how I’ve learned it. Loving yourself enough to be vulnerable is a game changer folks.

She came to me later and said, “Daddy, I have some solutions on how I can get better at reading.” A girl after my own heart 🙂

Please visit Jason Mackenzie at The Book of Open to read amazing stores of courage and overcoming.

jason mackenzie

Free Resources:

Check out a free chapter from: THE DAD’S EDGE on UNLIMITED PATIENCE HERE

The Dads Edge Book

Check out this free resource on: CONNECTION WITH YOUR SPOUSE

Check out this free resource on:  CONNECTION WITH YOUR KIDS