I mentioned early on I wanted to take the things I learned in my career and use them to better my parenting and family life. Below is a selection from the leadership book I published a year or so ago. I’m A Leader! Now What Do I Do?: 50 Real Tips and Tricks for New Leaders
Now – how can this apply to being a dad? Well, I don’t know it all. I don’t even know most of it. Neither do you. So here is a reinterpretation of the original, just for us Dads that don’t always feel like we are doing a great job.
Dad- you don’t have to know it all.
Wow, somehow you managed to get yourself married and she actually agreed to reproduce with you. Well done. No really, in my humble opinion, it’s the best and most worthwhile portion of my life and I wish you the same. But, if you are like I was – you might be freaking out a bit as you are strapping that perfect little creature into his or her car seat for the first time. You are driving 10 under the speed limit on the way home form the hospital and thinking how real life just got.
It just got really real.
I cried. I’ll tell you – when I first saw my new child – I cried more than they did. Every time. I cried because I was in such awe of their beauty and perfection. I cried because I was scared I wasn’t worthy to be their dad. Even typing this, I might tear up… ok – I’m fine. I am not a big crier – but I cried.
And I cried because I didn’t know it all. I still don’t. And, unlike starting a new job where you can remember past experiences, this dad thing was brand new. There was no thinking back to a time.
So – now that I’ve been a dad for awhile, I wanted to give you some peace of mind. No one knows it all. Not you, not your wife, not your dad, not the child psychologist who wrote a dozen books.
So, what can you do?
When this came to work, I would have said I felt better in about 6 months. I said to set a reminder in your calendar to reflect back after 6 months. For parenting, the cycle is a bit different. It’s faster. So much faster. There is SO MUCH going on, I found that I was comfortable in a matter of days or weeks with some things. Like diapering – I was a pro in no time. But with being a dad – once you master one thing, it’s time to learn another. So it’s this perpetual cycle of learning, mastering, accepting, starting over. Daily. Hourly even…
What can you do?
Take a ton of photos. People always say that because they grow up so fast. But I say take photos for another reason. Why? I scroll through photos of my kids and think back. I remember, ‘ Oh, I was so worried just holding my little girl here.’ or ‘This is when I taught him to throw a ball.’ When you can recall times of challenge and look back feeling successful, it will comfort you when it’s time to take on the next parenting challenge.
Talk with your wife. She’s probably feeling the same sense of fear of failure. But you won’t fail. Well, probably wont.
Talk with other dads. There is always a dad whose been there. It could be your dad or granddad, an uncle or friend.
Search the internet. There are so many great sources for parenting advice and reassurance. Just ensure you are finding quality and trustworthy sources. Like this site…my site…. trust me.. no really, trust me.
- Discuss this feeling with your wife. Keep communication open and build each other up.
- Take photos and review them. Set a reminder to scroll through photos weekly or monthly to remember how far you’ve come.
- Make a list of dads you trust and reach out to them often. Soon others will be reaching out to you.
- Find good sites. I have met so many talented writers and dads and I know there is amazing content out there.
Leader – you don’t have to know it all.
So you are a new leader. You did so well your company trusted you to lead some people. Congratulations. Now you will learn like we all did, just because you’re the boss doesn’t make you any smarter. You don’t magically have the answers. You may feel like you have to fake it until you make it. Don’t worry, that’s how you should feel. So take a breath and get ready.
Most likely this feeling of panic or overwhelming stress will pass in about 6 months. Each time this happens to me, I try to remember the last time I changed positions and how that felt. If you’ve only just begun your role, you are on fire to do a great job but may be struggling to determine just how to fill your time. It is OK. I promise. It is perfectly normal as you begin this leadership journey to feel unqualified or overwhelmed. I remember thinking “how did I talk my way into this job?!?” I promise; you will get there.
If you are feeling this way right now, place a reminder on your calendar for six months from today. When it alerts you, see if you don’t feel significantly better. Things may not be perfect, but I’m willing to bet you’re doing a lot better than you though you would.
- Discuss this feeling with someone you trust like a friend or spouse.
- Set a reminder in your calendar for 6 months from today to check in and see how you are feeling.
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