They might even be the key to making them better
I have a very easy tell when I am scared or nervous, I stutter. From the moment my wife told me she was pregnant, right up until the birth of our first son, it was not very difficult to figure out how I was handling it — I was in machine gun mode.
When friends and family asked what was up, and why I was so stressed out, I told them I was worried about what type of influence I would be over my son.
But that was a lie. I was way too self-absorbed at the time to think that far ahead.
The real reason why I struggled to get out a complete sentence during this time, was because I thought my dreams would die.
And don’t get me wrong, they have.
Every single one of the aspirations I had prior to the birth of my children are dead.
Not one worked out, and as I sit here writing this today, I could not be happier about it.
What I failed to mention above, was that the dreams I had prior, were just that — dreams. Like a lot of people, I had a lot of ideas, but I lacked the discipline to finish them, and in most cases, the motivation to even start.
I was all talk, and I firmly believe I would still be gabbing away today, building castles in the sky, if it wasn’t for my two little men. They have influenced me more than I could have ever imagined, and in the process, played a double handed role in helping me reach a place I hadn’t dreamed possible. Below are just five of the biggest reasons why.
1. Kids will teach you how to attach greater meaning to your work:
The first time I held my first little man in my arms, I made a promise to myself that no matter what happened during the day, I would take a minute and force myself to smile every evening before I put the key in the door. I didn’t want to be one of those parents that brought negative things from work into our home.
In the beginning this was a challenge. However, somewhere between sleepless night number one, and dirty diaper three hundred, something funny happened: I didn’t have to force myself to smile anymore. This wasn’t because the work had changed, it was because my kids changed how I interpreted the work.
I no longer saw the work I didn’t want to do as a pain. I saw it as a way to take care of my children, and when this happened, I realised that bringing your passion to work, is much more effective than trying to find it.
2. Kids will teach you to prioritize:
Between kids, making sure my wife has more than one good reason to love me, work and friends, I don’t exactly have a lot of free time on my hands. What “they” say is right, kids do indeed take up a lot of time.
But if you pay attention to what you do when you do have some free time, you can learn a lot about what you want out of life.
Prior to having kids, despite wanting to write, I never found the time. There were too many beers to drink, shows to watch and days to waste. However, my kids forced me to ask myself what I really wanted. They helped me to buckle down on my dreams, and slowly, day after day, I started to chip away at them. The compounding affect of doing something daily, if even for a short amount of time, has single-handedly put me in a position where every day I get to do what I want, where I want, with the people I want.
Quick but very important aside: If you are a man and you own a business and you think hiring a mom will negatively affect your bottom line — WAKE UP. The women I know who have children, not only know how to get stuff done, they know how to get the right stuff done.
3. Kids will teach you to roll with the punches:
Prior to having kids, when something bad happened, I obsessed over it, and allowed all my energy and focus to go there. This bad habit not only negatively affected my mood at work, but also outside of it.
However, my kids changed that. This is for the simple fact they taught me how to rebound. When it comes to shrugging something off, kids are masters. One minute they can be balling their eyes out, and the next, they are back in the game laughing uncontrollably.
As adults we know that bad things are going to happen. However, we often forget that it is our decision how long we are going to allow them to stir. It is OK to cry, as long as you can find a reason to laugh soon after. My kids taught me that, and this one lesson alone, has boosted my career, and life, in more ways than I can count. Momentum is everything and the faster you can gain control of the speed and direction of the roller-coaster, the more creative and kind you will be to both others, and yourself.
4. Kids will teach you to live in the present moment:
I have always been a bit of a “time traveler” and have a tendency to get stuck stressing over the past and worrying too much about the future. However, with my children there is absolutely no room for this.
They can smell a fraud a mile away, and demand that when I am in their presence, that I am present. I am not going to pretend this is easy, but it becomes much harder if you sit and watch them instead of getting off the couch and joining in on the fun.
Some people meditate alone to connect with the moment. In my house, we do the opposite — we play together, and to my surprise, it has not only greatly reduced my stress, it has improved my energy levels and appetite to smile.
5. Kids will teach you the power of patience:
About two years ago, my son spilled his cereal, and I lost it. The look on his face woke me up. As we grow older the world teaches us survival skills, and part of this includes hiding our feelings and emotions. However, with kids it is different. Their faces say it all, and if you hurt them, you know it.
Our words have power, both good and bad. But every time you yell at someone, or demean them, whether you can see it or not, you are hurting them.
Today, when my children do something that pushes my patience, instead of getting caught up in the problem, I breathe, look for a solution, make a joke and move forward together. After seeing how effective demonstrating some level of self-control can be, I decided to not stop with them, and I know my relationships are better for it.
Pulling it all together:
A wise man once told me (cough, cough Conor Neill), that in order to be successful, people need to get clear in three areas: clarity of vision, certainty of action and certainty of values.
By just being their adorable selves, my two little men have taught me how to do just that.
They have given me clarity of vision by forcing me to ask myself what I wanted out of life. They have given me certainty of action by providing me with daily deadlines. Most of all, they have helped me to instill values by showing me the power of being kind and patient with not only the people around me, but also myself.
When you put these things together, partnered up with my wife, have helped me to reach dreams I hadn’t considered possible.
Everybody today wants to be an influencer.
I want to be influenced and I couldn’t think of a better team to be surrounded by than my wife and our little men.
Thanks for reading and today please be good to people — they’re all we’ve got.
Enjoyed this article? Feel free to read more here and learn more about how you can create quality opportunities by building quality relationships.
Article first published in The Startup (Medium.com)
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