Don’t Be Silly

Don't Be Silly

There is a quote by Adlai Stevenson that is rattling inside my head today. It has leadership implications both at home and at work. Here are the words of Adlai Stevenson.

“It’s hard to lead a cavalry charge if you think you look funny on a horse.”

Leadership In The Home

One of the things that is the most important to us as men is that our wives and children respect us. I think for many men respect comes before love in order of importance to the male psyche. But, I won’t debate that here today. Instead, I want to talk about something that in many ways may run counter to the notion of respect.

The opposite of respect is, of course, disrespect. And as dads, we cannot tolerate that from our children. But consider for a moment the importance of being silly with your children. Did you catch that? I said that it is important to be silly with your children. Why is that important?

Many times our kids see us as the great enforcers of rules and the “sucker of all that is fun out of life.” They could never have known us when we were wearing togas to toga parties in college. They never saw us perform some goofy skit in the Fall Fun Fest our sophomore year. In their eyes, we are the one who goes to work every day and comes home too tired to play.

So, what do we do?

So, what do we do? The truth is that I don’t know how to program silliness into your fatherhood repertoire. It is hard to plan these sorts of things. But be spontaneous. The next time you need to pick up all of the dirty clothes from your child’s room, do it together and make a silly contest out of seeing how many dirty socks, shorts, and shirts you can stuff in your pants. And then waddle to the laundry room with the dirty clothes sticking out of your pockets and waistband and dump them in the washing machine. OK, that isn’t the greatest idea in the world, but I was being spontaneous!

And there is a practical side to all of this. Continue reading “Don’t Be Silly”

Leadership Lessons from Tidying Up

Leadership Lessons from Tidying Up-2

Like many of you, I am still trying to work out some of the finer details from the goal setting that is so much a part of this time of year.  One of the goals that I have set for myself this year is to be more organized (less cluttered) in my own personal life. I have also set a goal of redeeming some of the lost time that I spend in my car while commuting to and from the office.  One of the ways that I am dealing with both of these goals is to listen to an audio book on tidying while I drive. Please don’t shame me, but I am listening to an audio book in the car is a first for me.

The book that I have selected is The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo. Marie Kondo is a Japanese cleaning consultant. She takes tidying to a whole new level.  She claims that if you properly simplify and organize your home just once, and you do it according to her “KonMari Method”, you’ll never have to do it again. Her method, with its revolutionary category-by-category system, leads to lasting results according to her book. In fact, none of Kondo’s clients have lapsed back into their old cluttered lifestyle once they graduate from her class and the in-home process. Further, she claims to have a 3-month waiting list to have her consult with you in your home or office.

I love many things about Japanese culture. I value the simplicity of design and the almost stark or Spartan look to the interiors of many Japanese homes. For me, it is almost like walking into a hotel room. I am relaxed and energized by the uncluttered look and feel to a hotel room. Aside from a bed, a work surface, a TV and a coffee maker, most hotels lack many of the things that we feel we must have in our homes. Apparently, for me, that is not the case. In fact, I am usually extremely productive in a hotel room when it comes to creative activities and planning.

Why is that so?

Continue reading “Leadership Lessons from Tidying Up”

A Mother’s Love Affects the Brain

Mother - Brain

No wait!  That isn’t a setup line for a punchline. A recent study shows that nurturing a child early in life may help him or her develop a larger hippocampus, the region of the brain that is important for learning, memory and stress responses.

Brain images have now revealed that a mother’s love physically affects the volume of her child’s hippocampus. In the study, children of nurturing mothers had hippocampal volumes 10 percent larger than children whose mothers were not as nurturing. And research has suggested a link between a larger hippocampus and better memory.

One of the study authors had this to say; “We can now say with confidence that the psychosocial environment has a material impact on the way the human brain develops.” Dr. Joan Luby, the study’s lead researcher and a psychiatrist at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, MO said, “It puts a very strong wind behind the sail of the idea that early nurturing of children positively affects their development.”

What Did the Researchers Do?

Continue reading “A Mother’s Love Affects the Brain”

EI Outside the Workplace

EI Outside the Workplace

I spent a great deal of time earlier in the week extolling the virtues of Emotional Intelligence in the workplace. And I still believe there is a significant need for and benefit from increasing our EI/EQ and using that increased knowledge and wisdom in the workplace.

But, let me attempt to make a compelling case, and in fact a greater case, for emotional intelligence outside the office and in the home.

Consider the Emotionally Intelligent Husband

The emotionally intelligent husband is a step above the husband who is not aware of his emotional intelligence nor has he raised his emotional intelligence. What defines an emotionally intelligent husband is one who has figured out a secret to marriage that other husbands haven’t yet. That little secret, although it is actually pretty elementary, can actually be pretty difficult to develop because it requires him to become more aware of his wife and her needs. And this is contrary to human nature and a pop culture that says that it is all about me.

Like many husbands, the emotionally intelligent husband has learned to respect and honor his wife. But here is where the EI husband separates himself from the others. Continue reading “EI Outside the Workplace”

Livin’ for the moment . . .

Living for the moment

I’m just livin’ for the moment . . .

How many times have you heard that? How many times have you said that?

One of the definitions that I found for this phrase is as follows:

“To live or act without worrying about the future.”

So, I could say that I am living for the moment[.] – Period. Full stop.

To live in the moment, or to live in the now, means being conscious, aware and in the present with all of your senses. It means not dwelling on the past, nor being anxious or worrying about the future.

When we concentrate our attention on the present we focus on the task at hand. We give our full attention to what we are doing and we let go of outcomes.

Seizing each moment in life allows us to prolong its value and make it more meaningful. Rather than seeking quantity of time, when we live in the moment we enjoy and savor every minute. We don’t sacrifice quality for quantity.

I am fully onboard with the sentiment expressed in these thoughts. As long as we don’t overdo them with psychobabble that no one really understands. In fact, I can embrace the sentiment. Living in the moment allows me to focus on what is before me. My wife, my children, my grandchildren. The thrust of this is to put away the distractions and focus on what is present and not what has happened or may happen.

Or, I could say that I am living for the moment [. . . ] – Ellipsis. To show an unfinished thought. Continue reading “Livin’ for the moment . . .”

Spring Break Ideas for Dad

Spring Break Ideas for Dad

According to recent magazine article, a Swiss company will take the ashes of a dead relative and turn them into a synthetic diamond that you can wear for less than $10,000. That is a little creepy.  But that’s one way to be remembered, I suppose.

I know many of us can’t take off all week and be with our children.  But Spring Break is upon us and this is a great week to make memories with your kids that will last a lifetime.  And you can do it without the “break” in Spring Break be the breaking of the bank!  In fact, some of the ideas won’t cost you a dime!

Spring Break week ends on Friday the 13th here in Humble, TX. So, here are 13 memory-making things to do with your kids this week: Continue reading “Spring Break Ideas for Dad”

Roles and Responsibilities – Money

Roles and Responsibilitues - MoneyI have been accused often of taking an approach that is too “business-like”. I like to take an analytical look at the world around me and my environment. That works well in the office environment. But folks tend not to like it very much when I am consulting with small churches about why they are still small and the others around them are growing. This same approach sometimes extends to my personal life.

One of the basic tenets of effectively executing a business objective is the correct identification and assignment of the roles and responsibilities of the members of the team. You may have a top performer in one area, but if they are assigned to an area that is not a strong suit, then things may not go as well as you would like. Of course they can use the assignment to “stretch” them and give them a valuable learning experience. But, you will usually not get optimal performance out of them in that situation.

So, this is “Manday”. What does this article have to do with that?

There are many roles and responsibilities that are often socially assumed to be the domain of us as men. One of the common ones is the handling of money. Many times we are the provider of the largest portion of the family income and it is easy to assume that we should then handle it and manage the disbursements to all of the family bills and obligations. That makes sense, right?

No always!

This is an area that we as men need to take a real hard look at and discuss with our wives whether or not it really should be our primary role and responsibility. In many marriages there are a myriad of things that one partner is good at and the other is not. And the handling of the family budget is usually one of them. But it is also one that carries with it the burden of a traditional or social norm that it is the man’s job to handle the money.

I challenge you as a man today to examine this vital role and responsibility within your family. Are you the best one for the job? If so, do it with diligence. If you are not, then delegate it decisively.

I want to make one final point. This is not a “free pass” to totally abdicate any responsibility for the hard work of managing the family budget. This is especially true when the outflow exceeds the income. No one likes paying the bills when there is not enough to go around. So, in those tough situations, work together to establish the priorities and establish a spending plan that both of you agree to completely. Then, the one with the role and responsibility of executing that plan can do so with the full knowledge and support of the other.

Happy “Tax Day” everyone!


 Photo credit: teamjenkins / / CC BY-NC-SA

Financier, Friend or Father — Part Three

father-son-13_lIn parts one and two we looked at two of the many roles that a father plays.  We looked at him as financier where he has a role in being a provider for the family.  But we saw that being a provider is not what our family needs from us the most.  We then looked at his role as a friend and how hard it is to be something much more than our child’s buddy.  In this, our last installment of the series, I want to explore the most important role that a man will play in life and his relationship to his children.

Father – “Father knows best.”

>Boy, I really wish this last statement were true 100% of the time.  We all know it isn’t.  But at the end of the day, we are responsible.  President Harry S Truman said, “The buck stops here.”  And the “buck” of responsibility stops with the father.  Another way of looking at it is this.  “We may not always be right, but we are always the parent.”  And we need to act accordingly.  We need to step up and make the tough decisions.  We need to make decisions that may be unpopular with our children.  And we will make some bad decisions.  And when we make a bad decision or a mistake, we need to acknowledge it.  Our children will not lose respect for us when we admit a mistake.  In fact, the opposite is true.  They will come to respect us even more by seeing that we love and respect them enough to acknowledge when we have failed them.Father and Son Blurred

I think homes in America today are places of “Fatherhood Vacuums”.  Divorce has ravaged our families, our homes and our society.  And so often, Mom has had to step in to fill the void left by an absent father.  There can even be fatherhood voids in homes where the father still remains.  How tragic is that when a father is present physically but absent emotionally?

So what is my point today? 

My point is this.  Is it my role primarily to provide for the needs of my family if possible?  Absolutely!  But that is not the most important role that I have.  Is it my role to be a friend to my children and build a relationship of closeness and camaraderie?  Absolutely!  But of the three roles, financier, friend and father, being a real father is the most important of them all.

Go be a “father” today!

Photo credit: Thomas Leuthard / / CC BY
Photo credit: Tojosan / / CC BY-NC-SA

Financier, Friend or Father — Part Two

Friend - JumpWe recently looked at the role that we play as a financier for the family.  And that role is important.  But consider part two of this three part series.

Friend – “Hey, who is your buddy?”

One of the other traps we fall into is the trap of trying to be a buddy or pal to our child rather than being their father.  And the reason we do is fairly obvious.  It is much easier to be a friend than it is to be a father.  And besides, who doesn’t want to be a pal or to have a pal?  The problem is Continue reading “Financier, Friend or Father — Part Two”

Financier, Friend or Father — Part One

Money TreeAs Dads, we have a lot of roles to play as part of our overall responsibility to the family.  This is especially true when it comes to the relationship that we have with our children.  In a brief three part series I plan to consider three particular roles that we play in our children’s lives.

Financier – “What am I made of?  Money?”

I think one of the things that is the hardest for us to understand early in the life of our family is understanding what level of importance to place on the role of money within the family.  And one of the traps that young fathers fall into is the trap of Continue reading “Financier, Friend or Father — Part One”