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Fatherhood & Leadership: Shared Principles for a Remarkable Life

Being a father to my four children has been one of the greatest joys and also challenges of my life. (Being a grandfather is in close competition about the joy!) I have learned much, experienced immense highs and lows and it has required me to stretch in unanticipated ways. My relationship with my own dad, my kids and other dads around me has taught me much about leadership and I have found that many of the principles one uses to be a successful parent can apply to the similar principles I use to teach others on effective leadership. A few that come to mind include:

- Being a good parent/leader begins with a commitment to take better care of yourself, so you can approach life and your relationships with greater energy, thoughtfulness, and intention.

- Part of the path to joy is a recognition and intention about living in the present moment. The more we can be present and the more we can be intentional recognizing that this moment is all we have, the happier and more joyful we will be. I wish that this was a more common experience in my life, and I assure you that with my own children, I am not sure I had the insight nor the inclination to be so present to let go of past guilt or future anxiety and just be. But I’m glad that I am cultivating that ability and while not perfect, I am much more mindful of being fully present with others and when I do it well, it certainly facilitates deeper and richer connections with others.

- Good parenting is not a function of how much wealth, stuff, or success you accumulate. Children need love, affection, and intimacy and we know that when a young child does not have these, there are significant health consequences. In interviews with those who were in their last days of hospice care, they did not regret having greater wealth or success in their lives. Instead, they wished they had worked less, were more true to themselves, had loved more and had chosen more happiness in their lives.

- Deepening our connections and relationships may be the most important habit for us to nurture. The notion of the rugged, triumphant individual is widely accepted and it can be a cultural and psychological barrier to seeing the successful life as a collective and collaborative effort. But, if we are honest about history and our own experience, nothing really significant in life ever gets accomplished by just one person. The older I get the more I realize that life is a team sport and asking for help and support is not a weakness but a great strength and a pathway for greater joy and happiness.

What lessons have you learned from being a parent that apply to leadership?

Happy Father’s Day to all my fellow dads, dads to be and those who hope to be a father one day.

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