Grandchildren running under a sprinkler, photo: M.Smith
My blog is unique in the world of fatherhood blogs. I am not raising babies, toddlers, or teens any longer. I’m not pushing Legos or advertising healthy foods for kids. I’m not telling funny stories about my four-year-old nor am I talking about Star Wars movies or comic book heroes. All of these topics are wonderful and have an audience. My blog, however, is a thoughtful attempt to remind parents, especially fathers, of how vitally important their role is in raising healthy, productive, children. Read this quote from my book which explains my goal.
From The Power of Dadhood: Become the Father Your Child Needs
Most would agree that fatherhood is not as natural as motherhood. I have little doubt that a woman is more likely to pick up this book than a man, even though it is targeted for men. We want to be attentive, caring fathers for the most part, and while not difficult intellectually, parenting for men is not necessarily intuitive either. The simplest of tasks appears difficult when we have no idea where to start. Swimming is not difficult, but without some basic lessons, we could easily drown. We men need help with fathering before we drown not only ourselves, but also our children.
Help does not come looking for us like it does in the workplace. If you are a lawyer, bomber pilot, carpenter, or truck driver, you have had lots of training, advice, mentoring, and guidance in your field. But as a father, you may have had little or none.
With that passage in mind, and understanding there are tons of great dads (and moms) out there, here are my thoughts on ‘The Ten Most Important Words in Parenting’. Let me start with three. And pardon the repetition intended for emphasis.
If I Could Tell You the THREE Most Important Words in Parenting, they would be:
- LOVE – PROTECTION – ENGAGEMENT
- With this, you’ve got the basics of being a good parent!
If I Could Tell You the FOUR Most Important Words in Parenting, they would be:
- LOVE – PROTECTION – ENGAGEMENT – PRINCIPLES
- You must have ethical values because you are being watched, judged and/or copied.
If I Could Tell You the FIVE Most Important Words in Parenting, they would be:
- LOVE – PROTECTION – ENGAGEMENT – PRINCIPLES – UNDERSTANDING
- It’s not a one-way street! know your children and explain why you do things.
If I Could Tell You the SIX Most Important Words in Parenting, they would be:
- LOVE – PROTECTION – ENGAGEMENT – PRINCIPLES – UNDERSTANDING – CONNECTING
- Like phone lines and bridges, the pathways must be open to communicate.
If I Could Tell You the SEVEN Most Important Words in Parenting, they would be:
- LOVE – PROTECTION – ENGAGEMENT – PRINCIPLES – UNDERSTANDING – CONNECTING – CONSEQUENCES
- With very action comes a responsibility. This must be taught!
If I Could Tell You the EIGHT Most Important Words in Parenting, they would be:
- LOVE – PROTECTION – ENGAGEMENT – PRINCIPLES – UNDERSTANDING – CONNECTING – CONSEQUENCES – NURTURING
- Teach, mentor, guide, encourage, support, and cultivate.
If I Could Tell You the NINE Most Important Words in Parenting, they would be:
- LOVE – PROTECTION – ENGAGEMENT – PRINCIPLES – UNDERSTANDING – CONNECTING – CONSEQUENCES -- NURTURING – TRUST
- Say what you will do and do what you say.
If Could Tell You the TEN Most Important Words in Parenting, they would be:
But... Having thought about it for some time now, I do believe these are the TEN most important words in parenting. But these words are not in stone nor are they 'one size fits all'.
- LOVE – PROTECTION – ENGAGEMENT – PRINCIPLES – UNDERSTANDING – CONNECTING – CONSEQUENCES – NURTURING – TRUST – BALANCE
- You must try very hard to balance children, work, marriage, self-interests, attention, and life.
- AVAILABLE would have been a good word. ‘Being there’ when your kids need you is really important.
- On second thought, maybe having PRINCIPLES should be in the top three?
- Or maybe I should have added a SENSE OF HUMOR? But that is three words.
- By TRUST I really mean, TRUST BUT VERIFY. At least until your children have demonstrated PRINCIPLES.
- ENGAGEMENT and CONNECTING need to work together, being ENGAGED but not CONNECTED could be an issue.
- Maybe LOVE isn’t first. Some loving people are terrible parents. But it must be near the top!
:What do you think are the most important words in parenting? Certainly we all have different thoughts about being a mom or dad. Maybe the order of these words would be much different in your mind. You might think about placing them in order of those that are the toughest for you to achieve. For me, the toughest word in parenting may have been 'BALANCE'. My hope is that you think about these words as you parent your children. There is no right list, no right order or priority for every parent, or every child. Just thinking about words like these will help you to become an even better parent.
My grandson plopped on this mat to watch the firetrucks. A fireman gave him a hat.
I have a good friend named Dale who told me a story about his son. There was such a good lesson in this story, I included it in my book, The Power of Dadhood. As good friends tend to do, we slam each other mercilessly! There are things about Dale I don't understand and I'm sure he feels the same about me. But there is one thing that no one does better than Dale. Dale is a family man!
Dale's number one priority was being a husband and father. Now, as a grandfather, his family is still priority number one! He drives three hours one way most weekends to see his grandsons play ball. For a few years after his retirement, he would watch a third grandson and granddaughter during the summer when their parents had to work. He occasionally brings his granddaughter to play with my granddaughter at my farmhouse. Yep, Dale is a good guy who would help anyone, as long as his family didn't need him more.
The story in The Power of Dadhood is about his oldest son Mike, who learned from Dale what being a dad is all about. And isn't that how it is supposed to work? Mike didn't have to learn how to love, support and mentor when he became a father. He grew up knowing nothing else!
The Boy Who Wanted to be a Firefighter: Four Steps to Success!
My friend Dale once told me the story of his son Mike, who knew at a young age exactly what he wanted to do with his life. Before discussing Mike’s story, I want to mention four simple steps to achieving goals. If you complete all these steps, you will likely achieve any goal you set.
- Know yourself well. Know and accept your desires and capabilities.
- Decide clearly and honestly where you want to go.
- Develop a plan to get there.
- Have the right attitude to keep your plan in action.
When Mike was twelve, Dale took him to the local firehouse to join the Explorers, which Dale described as “a kind of Boy Scouts with hoses.” When they got there, the Captain told them Mike had to be fourteen before he could join. Mike was disappointed, but there was nothing he could do except wait.
On his fourteenth birthday, Mike went to Dale again and said, “Let’s go to the firehouse, Dad.” Dale had forgotten his son’s desire to join the Explorers but was happy to take him there. When they got to the firehouse this time, the Captain told Mike the program had ended because there was not enough interest. Again Mike was disappointed but not discouraged. The next day, he started to recruit his friends and others to join him in starting a new Explorers program. Before long, Mike had his group of friends all wanting to be Explorers. The program was successful and the fire chief even got an award for starting up the new Explorer post.
Mike had a clear interest and goal that drove him every day. With Mike’s focus and the support of his parents all along, there was no way he would not reach his goal. In my mind, Dale’s son, Mike, is one of the most successful people anywhere. He may not make a lot of money, and not many would want his job, but some millionaires are not doing what they really want to do in life. Mike is doing exactly what he wants to do, and it’s one of the most honorable professions. Today, Mike is chief of the Liberty Fire Department in Missouri.
Mike had an inherent passion that automatically took care of steps one and two: know yourself, and know where you want to go. Step three, planning, had begun but still needed attention. However, step four, having the right attitude, is easy when you have a strong desire. As a parent, you are fortunate if your child has a passion. Most kids don’t know what they want to do with their lives, but when they are ready, you can help them figure it out based on their skills and interests and remind them of the four steps to achievement.
Let's assume you gave Dale Carnegie's classic book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, to a friend or family member. The subtitle of Carnegie's book is, The Only Book You Need to Lead You to Success. The recipient would thank you for your thoughtfulness knowing you have their best interests in mind.
Now let's change the subtitle to How to Not Be a Jerk! It's the same book, but now the recipient's reaction is different. "Does he think I'm a jerk?" they wonder and quietly ignore the book. Or they say
, "What do mean I'm a jerk", and they throw it back in your face.
That brings me to my book, The Power of Dadhood: Become the Father Your Child Needs. The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. I believe it is honest, encouraging, and simply written.
The one thing that I may regret is the subtitle, which is Become the Father Your Child Needs. It is not the subtitle I had written. When my publisher changed it I didn't object because my initial reaction was positive and others agreed. A child does need his father and it suggested my book would help with that duty. To some people, however, it sends a different message when it is received as a gift.
My original subtitle was A Better Society One Child at a Time. I chose that subtitle because there was much emphasis on the impacts on society when families break down. Every father that stands by and supports his family is one step toward a society with less crime, fewer births to teenage mothers, more educated youth, and more community-minded people—I could go on and on.
I have heard, however, that when someone gives the book to a friend and/or relative, their initial reaction may be to be offended! Their interpretation is, “Are you saying I’m doing a terrible job as a father?” Certainly, this is not the intent at all!
The true purpose of my book is threefold!
- To prove to any man, no matter what he thinks, or what he hears, that he is a crucial and undeniable influence on the lives of his children and it is vital that he be there for them in a positive way.
- To be a reference for how to handle the challenges of fatherhood which, most assuredly, will occur.
- To save precious lives from a path of self-destruction, underachievement, and/or being a burden on society.
When my book was translated into Chinese, the publisher there translated the subtitle to “A moment for dad, a lifetime for (his) kid”, which I think is an interesting and positive subtitle. It doesn’t have a potential to suggest anything negative to someone who may receive it as a gift.
My publisher, Familius, did not have the last word on the subtitle, I did! These few examples of the reaction to the subtitle were not anticipated by either of us. The subtitle is an honest and true reflection of the content, yet I can now see how people’s sensitivities may be provoked. However, the message of the book is too strong and important to ignore, so don’t let anything stop you from gifting this book!
If ever there is a second edition of my book, I may come up with another subtitle. Even replacing the word 'Become' with 'Be' would help. But for now, it can't be changed. What I ask for is this; anyone who may consider my book as a gift to a current, expecting, and even a future father, please be aware of the potential misconception that may occur and let them know it is no reflection on their performance, ability, or future as a dad! The Power of Dadhood is simply a tool to help fathers in their pursuit of being a first-class parent. #powerofdadhood
On this Veteran’s Day 2015, I wanted to share a letter I wrote to my son as he was about to join the Army in September 2001. It was just ten days prior to the attack on the World Trade Center in New York. I share it for two reasons. One because it is Veteran’s Day and I want to honor my son who faced all his fears and worked very hard to became an Army Blackhawk pilot. This Veteran’s Day he is currently in Afghanistan on his second tour there. The second reason is to show an example of a father mentoring his son. It doesn’t matter that my advice is good or bad. What matters is a father’s desire to help his son. That desire will mean more to him than the advice itself. All sons and daughters need the full support of their family.
Thanks to all you veterans out there. Your service is much appreciated!
A Letter to My Son Prior to His Joining the Army Mike after earning his pilot wings.
1 September 2001
I know you are very nervous and full of self-doubt about going into the Army and the challenges ahead. You’re not crazy for feeling this way because it is quite natural. I have gone through all this myself. Facing your fears and seeing them melt away is a part of growing and maturing as a person.
All the fears and doubts you have are made more or less tolerable by your way of looking at these things. One way to put challenges into perspective is to really look at how likely things will turn out and what the consequences will be if they do. But before I go any further, I have no doubt of your ability to be successful in the Army if you apply yourself to your best ability and if you will do the things needed to be successful.
You’ve mentioned to me that some guys who have signed up don’t seem worried or nervous at all. Let me tell you why that may be. First of all, some are much more nervous than they let on. They don’t want anybody to know they are apprehensive because being cool is very important to them. Inside, the want their mommies. Also, it may be that they are not nervous because they are ignorant of what is before them and are not thinking past their noses. Or maybe they just don’t care enough.
The best reason for not showing anxiety for a new situation is preparation. Some guys and gals have known they wanted to serve most of their lives. They have read about it, asked questions, and visualized themselves in uniform since they graduated from kindergarten. They are ready to ‘get going’!
I think your fears are the same mine were. I was afraid to fail. It takes courage to move toward a goal that seems elusive. If you go for something, everyone will know if you didn’t make it. If you don’t go for it, you never have to explain why you failed or be embarrassed by it. When your desire is great enough for you to take a chance, you have taken a good first step. But to keep from being worried all the time, you have to do something very important. It’s something Buddhists teach. You must detach yourself (your self-worth) from your goal. In other words, you must realize that with failure, you can move on, it wasn’t meant to be, and you can rebound and find your value elsewhere.
Don’t be confused. In simple words, have the attitude of “I will fight like hell to meet my goal, but if I fail, I will be satisfied I did all I could and be proud of that fact, then move on”. Strangely, a healthy attitude like this will almost assure your success given your diligence in doing everything that is in your control. Don’t place all your dreams for yourself through one path.
One more thing, when you start your journey, it will become easier because you are acting, not thinking about it. While there, help others and they will help you. You will feel like a team and less focus on yourself is always good. Remember, you can have an easy life or a fulfilling life, but you can’t have both.
I know you will succeed! I’m very proud of you!
Christ the Redeemer, Rio de Janeiro Getty Images
Can you name the Ancient Seven Wonders of the World? Or the New Seven Wonders of the World?
That got me to thinking. There are things I wonder about that I think are inexplicable, but the wonder is not about their majesty, but their insanity. For instance, how does evil like ISIS even exist in this day and age? What is this fascination of following other people’s lives (e.g. the Kardashians)? Or less serious--selfies with ‘duck lips’? Enough already!
But what I wonder about the most as a writer of fatherhood topics are the inexplicable problems of fathers and families. With that stated, here are seven situations I wonder about that never seem to be resolved.
The Seven Wonders of Fatherhood!
- I wonder why 24 million children (34%) do not have a father in the home.
- I wonder how society would be impacted and how many lives would be saved if estranged dads connected with their children and helped raise healthy families.
- I wonder why so many men (and boys) have children, then turn away from being responsible for them.
- I wonder what can be done to reach young men who have no idea how, or desire, to raise a child that they have fathered.
- I wonder why men without custody are aggressively sought to pay child support but not encouraged to engage and be involved with their children.
- I wonder when TV shows and commercials will allow dads to occasionally look like the smart, responsible parent.
- I wonder why our leaders don’t understand that to solve social issues, we must first fix families.
Without question, there are also many amazing fathers and their positive influence upon their children is obvious and wonderful! After writing my book, The Power of Dadhood: Become the Father Your Child Needs, I recall some of the truths that are quite clear regarding Dadhood! Here are seven of those truths.
Seven 'truths' that are quite clear regarding Dadhood!
- Only a father can love his children as deeply as their mother does. (p. 9)
- Society cannot replace good parenting. (p. 40)
- Children with involved, loving fathers are significantly more likely to do well in school, have healthy self-esteem, exhibit empathy, and prosocial behavior, and avoid high-risk behaviors such as drug use, truancy, and criminal activity compared to children who have uninvolved fathers. (p. 38)
- Defeated mothers and absent fathers create more defeated mothers and absent fathers. (p. 43)
- It is in the home . . . where children should learn kindness, goodness, values, discipline, and manners. . . where children should find understanding, care, and comfort. . .where successful lives should begin, with open minds, encouragement, and love. . . where compassion should exist. . . where the safety nets of our children’s failures are made of rubber bands, ready to sling them back into the world—stronger, wiser, and with new momentum. (p. 46)
- One thing you need not worry about—it will happen with certainty—is this: your children will learn from you. They learn in two ways: First, they learn by what you point out to them that they may never see on their own. I call this parenting. Second, they observe and mimic you. I call this parental osmosis. (p. 137)
- Be a good Dad to your children and your rewards will make you feel like you didn’t do enough to deserve them. This is a promise. (p. 201)
Of course, we could guess the answers to my ‘wonders’, but they are guesses and likely all would apply to some degree. The lack of action or answers to solve the father absence issue and the rare occasions in which it is mentioned as a cause of so many social issues is the greatest of all my wonders. I just hope the truths in my book catch the ear of a few uninvolved or hesitant fathers that may have an "AHA" moment and become the father their child needs!
A good father will make an enormous difference in a child's life. It happens through his strength, support, and discipline as a parent. Being a dad is never easy, but it is rewarding. Seeing your well-adjusted children succeed is beyond comparison. Conversely, the world suffers when fathers are not positive influences! So with tongue-in-cheek, here are my top six fathers under the sun!
1. Mike Mentor
Mike is aware of the need to give constant guidance to his kids. He helps them to understand why things are as they are and teaches them how to avoid trouble and how to handle problems. Mike encourages and motivates his children to always do their best.
2. Alvin Attention
Al knows his kids! He knows their strengths and weaknesses. By supporting their strengths and helping with their weaknesses, Al is shaping his children’s ability to handle their lives in the future. He listens to them with his eyes and ears. Whenever his kids have an important event, it is Al’s top priority. They know he is there for them!
3. Conrad Consistency
Conrad doesn’t confuse his children. He has rules that are fair and reasonable, and he enforces them. Conrad never makes promises he can’t keep nor does he forget to follow up on a deserved punishment. This dad is dependable and his kids know what is expected of them. They can always count on their dad!
4. Harvey Humor
Harvey is a serious parent but a fun dad. His kids love to be around him and they look to him when they are down to see the bright side of things. Harvey knows when to be serious, but he also knows that having a sense of humor can bring his family closer together. He plays with his kids, teases gently, but doesn’t go too far. Harvey's children are thrilled to see him walk through the door!
5. Peter Principle
Pete strives to live his life with integrity and wants his children to do the same. He has strong values and is an example for his children to follow. Peter accepts that mistakes will be made, but never hesitates to correct his children when necessary. He is honest, moral, and has rules and limits. He teaches by being a model for his children to follow.
6. Larry Love
Larry is open about his love of his family. He is gentle, kind and available. He tells his kids when they do well, but will not hesitate to show he cares enough to correct them when necessary. Larry is known for pats on the back and his constant shouts of encouragement. He’s not afraid to look his kids in the eye and say ‘I love you!’
Every father has his own strengths as do the six dads above. The key thing to know about these six fathers is that they are all related—all in the same extended family. For example, every father above also has the characteristics of the other five fathers because mentoring cannot be done without attention, nor should it be done without principles. Love alone will not enable you to raise well-adjusted children. There must be consistency in their lives or they will be confused. There must be humor or there will be a lack of interest and/or memories without smiles. There are many best fathers in this world because you can only be the best dad in your own family. And that’s all that counts--and that’s all that matters.
These are the fatherly ideals I discuss in my book which add up to “Dadhood”!
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There are absent fathers, bad fathers, good fathers and very good fathers. I haven’t made up my mind which is worse of the first two. Absent and bad fathers are a discussion for another time. I do know that every father can be a better father. It has a great deal to do with awareness. To help with awareness, below are 10 habits we men can get into that can hurt our effectiveness as fathers.
1. Lack of Focus – giving halfhearted attention to parenting.
It happens to all parents to some degree in moments. Unfortunately, there are some parents where this inattention happens way too frequently. Parenting must have more focus in not only families but from the private and government leaders in this country.
2. False Priorities –something is always more important to do at the moment.
It could be a deadline to be met, bills to be paid, the grass needs mowing, or you haven’t exercised yet. How about taking a walk with your kid after coming home from work, or getting on the floor and playing with cars or dolls? Your children are a huge priority you should consider. Then pay your bills.
3. Lacking Attention to Detail – dealing with issues your children may have, without really understanding the problem.
When a father comes home and punishes or praises a child for a situation they, the father, misunderstand, it can cause harm or confusion. It is very critical to get the facts before you react. Know your children inside and out.
4. Procrastination – it’s like the sign in the bar that says, “Free beer tomorrow”.
When you realize that you need to attend to your children, don’t find yourself waiting for the right moment that never seems to come.
5. Climbing the Ladder– Young dads are also getting established in careers.
Getting established in a career is important and a problem. It’s not really a bad habit. The habit is giving too much time to your career. Making an impression at work must be balanced with making a very important impression on your children.
6. Squabbles –It happens in families!
When mom and dad are constantly fighting about this and disagreeing about that, nothing gets done and children suffer. Beyond that, show a united front to your children in all matters that concern them.
7. Parental Ignorance – Not knowing how to handle children or the situations they present is a real issue.
Too many fathers rely on their gut to raise their children. It’s much more important and complicated raising children than to trust your gut without some other knowledge or experience. Educate yourself, ask questions, read up and pay attention.
8. Lack of Mentoring – Men need help being dads.
Much of the ignorance in parenting is when men who were not raised by fathers become fathers. They have no reference of how their dad handled certain situations. Even remembering what was handled incorrectly can be of help. Men are adverse about asking for help, especially in this area. Be open to advice on parenting. Friends, uncles, grandfathers, etc. can help.
9. Lame Interests – Video games? – Really?
There are many lame interests, some not mentionable. Have your innocent fun, block out times for yourself, but NEVER let them dominate your time with family!
I admit to being guilty of at least eight of the nine habits above. Some often, some rarely, most without really realizing it. None of us are perfect as men or fathers. We will always fail in that goal. But we can always strive to improve, but improve how? I’ve tried to present some areas above to consider which, hopefully, will help you evaluate yourself as a dad. Simply not being aware of your habits can cause serious family issues. If reading any of these habits make you feel a little uncomfortable, it will be a big step in an effort to be a better dad!
Click on cover to read
If you are a parent, grandparent, foster parent, teacher, counselor, or other child-service professional, and you want to help children, teens, and their families move past problem behaviors or difficult circumstances, or simply reach a healthier, happier state, you're in the right place. Enjoy, and please share this site with others. --Dr. James Sutton, Psychologist & Host "The Changing Behavior Network"
Arch on the Mississippi River
Memorable moments often have a hook. A hook is something that nails that moment into your memory. Arch Grounds
I’m from St. Louis and this year is the 50th anniversary of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, or as we call it in ‘the STL’, the “Gateway Arch” or simply--“The Arch”. The Arch, if you have never seen it live, is an amazing piece of architecture! It is beautiful in its graceful simplicity, yet becomes visually complicated as you approach it from different directions, seemingly contorting into endless shapes and amazing viewpoints. There may have been more photos of the Arch taken over the years than I have of my grandchildren. Actually, a lot more! Almost every snapshot by a tourist, St. Louisan, or professional can be unique. As an example, I will add a few of my own Arch photos I’ve taken over the years as an example of its photogenic nature.
A Memory Arch Reflection
Occasionally, I will post a photography article even though the blog is usually dedicated to fatherhood. But here I will combine photography and fatherhood because the Arch was the focal point of one of the few fond moments I had with my father--and it has stayed with me for over fifty years.
It was late 1963 or early 1964, I was 13 and due to circumstances I don’t recall, I found myself downtown on an observation deck overlooking the Arch work site with my dad. The shiny metal legs had started to poke through the earth like two huge transformer-type trees leaning towards each other.
It was very unusual for me to be hanging out with my father. He was not the kind of guy to take any of his six children on adventures, even when he was around. It was just the two of us. The last time he did anything with me was about six years prior when he took me to my first Cardinal baseball game at the urging of my mother.
I remember looking at the two legs, maybe at 10% of what would be their final height of 630 feet, and projecting in my minds-eye where they would intersect in the sky. It was at night and the weather was cool. We exchanged a few words about how awesome it would be and wondered how each leg would keep from tumbling over before they met at the 630-foot level. Air Show
Just a couple of blocks away, the construction of a new baseball/football stadium was going on. It was someplace that I would spend quite a bit of my time the next 42 years until another new baseball stadium was built in 2006. I’m feeling quite old having watched Cardinal baseball in three different home stadiums.
Knowing how being with my dad on this night stayed with me, I wanted to provide memories for my kids. I even took my son to the construction site of the Rams football stadium in 1994 and took photos of him with the iron framework in the background. I told him how fast time flies and someday he could show this photo to his son. I was thinking back to the time with my dad, wishing we had taken photos that I could show my kids.
We all know people who had great memories of growing up with their dad. We also know people who did not. Those relationships may or may not appear to have anything to do with their success in life. But they always do! It may be that a child is successful because of an inadequate relationship with a parent, driven by the need to prove him or herself. That’s not how I wanted my children to succeed.
I mentioned a hook in the first sentence. I’m not sure if the hook in this particular memory was the construction of the Arch or having one-on-one time with my dad. Maybe a little of both.
Find something to do with each and all of your children. Have some family time and one-on-one time. Create traditions that will be anticipated with delight and discussed in later years. It’s about happiness, warm thoughts, pleasant memories, constructive relationships, and even mental stability. That is the success I'm talking about! My memories of my father afforded me an opportunity focus on fatherhood, turning around a dysfunctional relationship into a forum where I can speak openly and honestly about “The Power of Dadhood”. It is a power that should never be wasted or misused!
I met a man at a charity event the other day. He was a very successful man of about 70 years of age. How did I know he was successful? He told me. After I heard all that he had done, I had to agree it was quite an impressive career! The charity event itself would not have happened without his influence and help.
This gentleman only knew me as an author supporting the event and briefly commented on the title of my book to start a conversation. Of course, I thanked him for his charity and asked how he became involved. From that, he got into a monolog of his career and accomplishments.
I learned that over the years this man had many responsible and impressive positions. Currently, he was a vice president of a large company and the president of an international organization. He traveled extensively and knew many influential people. I’m being vague to protect his identity and unlike some who boast, I was certain all he said was true.
I wasn’t sure why he was pouring out all this information to me. Clearly he wasn’t trying to sell me anything or influence me to do something for him. When I asked how he managed his time, he said he worked eighteen hours a day, surviving on four and a half hours of sleep a night. I confessed that I needed at least 7 hours of sleep a night, or I was silly putty.
I don’t measure up to this fellow in the resume wars but I, too, have a story. However, he wasn't interested enough to ask. Continuing the conversation and trying to be clever, I asked how his wife even knew him with the many hours he worked. As it turned out, he wasn’t married. One wife had passed away and he had divorced the second. But he did have a grown son and daughter, but no grandchildren. I wondered, to myself, if he might be lonely.
Why do I bring up this incident?
I had a hollow feeling after talking to this man because he seemed to be missing something in his life. His success and influence took a back seat to his demeanor. While likable, there was no life in his face. Maybe I’m wrong. It’s not for me to judge his happiness. I don’t know his relationships with his grown children but when you work 18 hours a day, there isn’t much time for family.
We need people like this man, who work hard and give much. But where’s the balance in his life? Certainly we need people to invent, build, lead, teach, save, feed, invest, protect, serve and support society. But when you stop to think about it, that is what good parents do, they invent, build, lead, teach, save, feed, invest, protect, serve, and support their children who, in turn, serve society.
I learned quite a bit from this man. I learned that he was a leader, a giver, and a lonely person with lots of friends. I learned that with all he had done, he missed something along the way. I think what he missed was a good family life. But hey, I could definitely be wrong. Being an involved father or a loving grandfather will remove all doubt of your contributions or your role in life. In that, I believe I'm correct!