Leadership Starts at Home

Ask my son to do something. Ask my son if he wants to do something. Ask my son if he will do something for you. I can fairly accurately guess, his answer will be, ‘No.’ Not because he is rude obstinate or being rebellious. His answer is no because he is two and that is what two year olds do.

On the other hand, if I tell my son what I am going to do and then start doing it, he will trip over himself to come join me. He will perform his fastest run-waddle possible to get over to me. He will help me, do it for me, do a part of it, or somehow be in the midst of the action of whatever I am doing.

As a parent, I get the opportunity to learn how to parent a toddler who wants to do what I am doing, not what I want him to do. Which means I am learning how to lead him.

I get to learn how to lead him and show him the right things to do. The simple mundane tasks of cleaning up the living room at the end of the night. or not throwing his fork across the dinner table. Then there are the complex tasks of voicing my emotions and helping him voice his emotions. When he is ramped up and he is losing his mind because he is upstairs and he wants to be downstairs.

At this stage, leading my son is more about modeling the right thing to do. Leading him is an invitation to do the right thing more than it is about telling him or asking him to do the right thing.

As you work with your team, friends, and family, how are you modeling the right things to do? How are they modeling for you the right thing to do? What do you do to invite them into the right thing to do? How do you respond when they invite you into the right thing to do?

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Sharing Tears

The other day my son did something dumb, but it was something he knew he was not supposed to be doing. I had removed him from the temptation several times. Emphasized and been stern in how he was not supposed to be doing what he was doing. Finally, he was not listening and I sat him down in time out and made it explicitly clear he was being disobedient.

Next, he starts crying. Not the wail of pain or the cry of whining because he wants something. He just stares at me, with tiny little tears rolling down his round little cheeks.

And I am standing there watching him cry.

Then I start crying!

He is a good kid and he is learning boundaries, but I also need him to listen, the first time. It is only so long that until I need him to listen and it is the difference between him running out into a busy street or listening the first time when I tell him to stop and he does not run out into the busy street.

Until that day, I can only bond with him with the minimal vocabulary he has and the nominal understanding of the world he has. But in that moment when he was sitting, staring, and crying. It was the best thing I could do to meet him there, staring, and crying.

We can understand one another when we meet each other in these moments of tears and mutual emotion. We can share a moment together and know that despite our differences, we see each other and though we are different, we are still humans meeting each other where we are. We share emotions and humanity together.

Where are you meeting other people where they are at? How are you showing other people you are human and the same as they are despite your differences? How are you sharing moments of humanity with your coworkers, friends, and family?

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Acting Out

Children react to things that they do not want to do with a pretty standard reaction. They push back on reasonable requests. Say no. Throw a fit. Or just plain ignore you and do what they want to do.

As they mature we help them see healthy ways to have these conversations. We help them see when they should do things they do not want to do. We help them convey their emotion in a healthy way. They start to develop their own ability to process their thoughts and feelings and convey them in a socially acceptable way.

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Through the process, they become more mellow.

Their behavior changes when their parents call them out on unacceptable behavior.

How are you acting like a child (saying no, throwing a tantrum, ignoring requests)? How are you acting like a parent (calling others out when they act in unreasonable ways)?

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Mama Bear

**DISCLAIMER: I am not pregnant and my wife is not pregnant in any sense of the word.** 

I am afraid of parenthood. For 1000 different reasons, I am genuinely afraid, both from the perspective of a healthy respect for something. My fears range from viewing a mama bear across a valley through binoculars, respecting the mama bears power and strength from afar; to, the genuine terrifying fear of someone who is fleeing from a mama bear after they accidentally stumbled into her and her cubs. 

Really, it is quite terrifying when I think about. I am bringing a small, miniature human into the world. My teammate and I are uniquely responsible for feeding them, clothing, changing, and appropriate nutrition. Then there are the psychological needs as well. We have to encourage them, love them, and provide the essential building blocks of human social interactions. All the while also maintaining their physical needs. I can’t divide these tasks between my wife and I. If one of us doesn’t do enough, in the physical or emotion needs then we have a disaster on our hands. And the thing that really gets my goat about it all, I don’t even know how good a job I did for 18 years? 20 years? 25 years? 40 years? The nail in the coffin is, there is no test drive, manual, or perfect recipe.

No amount of babysitting will ever prepare me for a lifetime of parenthood. 

Trial by fire. 

Much like our friend who is being chased by the mama bear, he only knows if he is going to live because is or is not caught by the mama bear.

Now that I’ve hopefully given you a glimpse of my minor apprehensions about having children, it is time for the coup de grâce in the conversation, “I do not get to set aside my own issues in order to rear this youngling.” All of my upbringing, good experiences, bad experiences, and brokenness will be present in the way I bring up this little “bundle of joy.” I do not get much of a choice in this either. 

Finally, we have the the wildcard in the conversation. Me and my friends.

I had a conversation with a friend about the contents I of the post and he picks it apart for me immediately. I had a conversation with a friend who knows me, who has lived with me, who has known me through my life’s struggles. He says to me, “Yeah, you really need to work through your stuff with your dad, it will make all of this so much better.”

How right he is. I am afraid of my children being negatively affected by my decisions and my wife’s decisions in the same way my life was affected by my dad’s decisions.

This is my friend who loves me and knows me.

Who knows well enough to point out where your hurts are dictating your decisions?

**DISCLAIMER: I am not pregnant and my wife is not pregnant in any sense of the word.**