As Father’s Day is approaching and I get to spend the day with my fantastic kids, I am looking back over the years and thinking about how having children has changed the way I look at Leadership or life in general. I was recently asked a couple of questions…
What has fatherhood taught you about Leadership?
In business, RANK (the sum of our privileges in a particular system) typically comes from tenure, experience, role, hierarchy, socio + economic and psychological variables. Our leadership capital and ability to get things done is somewhat predictable and emboldening.
With kids – especially young ones, all bets are off. Being Dad has no inherent RANK, and in my experience is based on momentary relationship, immediate impact of context (and access to sugar, treats and micro-bribes). My RANK is slightly above or below our cat, depending on how long I’ve been out of the house.
I’ve frequently been out-maneuvered by my two kids, and I’m clear that I’m getting dumber every day as they are getting smarter.
Whatever smallness, before I was a father, stopped me from making the difference I came here to make evaporated when I started to take on the responsibility of their future. I want a better world for them. I can’t explain to them what we are doing right now as humans around the globe.
What advice would you give your children about life?
Suck the marrow our of a wide range of experiences – see, experience, do, be, feel all you can, with as much diversity as possible, with many people, in as many places as you can.
Understand how much you have and how little you deserve it – you have a privileged position. Use that privilege for good, to make a difference, to move the needle on something that’s important to you.
Feel at a deep level – all the ranges of pain and joy, physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. Get up early and stay up late to learn and grow. Ask questions and challenge assumptions – starting with your own. Get off the couch, stay away from the TV and seek out people who don’t see the world the way you do. Don’t shy away from love and don’t lose yourself in it either. Life is meant to be eaten with both hands – like a cheesecake. Dig in.
What lessons have your kids taught you?
To simplify what’s important. To never give up – even if there is no dessert involved. To see my family, friends and community as they do – as playmates. To get down on the floor, get dirty and get involved. To be ultra-present and to leave the distractions, especially electronic ones, in the other room. That after the toughest slog of a day, where nothing goes right and life has been going at me like a cheese grater ….. a hug from one of my kids melts it all away.
To the all the father’s out there – enjoy the day with your children. Children – Try something new outside just a tie or a pair of socks!