In honor of Father’s Day this weekend I thought today I would like to share some of the lessons that I have found important in raising my two boys.
- Lead by example. Saying one thing and then behaving in a way that contradicts those words confuses any message. Above all else, I strive to show my boys through my actions what I truly believe. Whether it’s exercise, how to treat people, how much time to spend on a handheld device, what to eat or any other example; I know my children will learn more from my actions than my words.
- Never give up. Whether physically or in times of trouble I talk continuously to my kids about never quitting. In fact since they were old enough to talk I’ve asked them “when is a good time to quit?” and each time they respond “never!!” My goal is to teach them that quitting on what you believe will never leave you at peace, in fact it will eat you up inside. Conversely, persevering through challenges will lead to amazing achievements and greater self esteem.
- Respect your body. From a young age I believe it is important to teach children to enjoy taking care of themselves and that it is NOT a chore to do so. My goal has always been to empower my kids with knowledge about things such as exercise and nutrition and then allow them to make good choices for themselves. It is a great source of pride for me that they regularly seek out fun forms of exercise, healthy food (not always), chiropractic adjustments and other positive choices without any prompting from me. This tells me that my boys see the benefits of those actions and want them for themselves.
- Challenge yourself. I talk to my boys regularly about the importance of seeking to achieve things outside of our comfort zones. One of my favorite recent examples was my son asking to do a race. His longest previous race was 3 miles so we signed him up for an 8 mile race – more than double what he’d ever done. He successfully completed that race (through 9 inches of snow and 20 degree temps) and since then I’ve seen both his confidence and belief in what he can accomplish in the future grow. Comfort zones can be physical and/or mental but breaking out of them is crucial to growth and achievement.
- Honor what you say. Throughout my business and personal life I’ve dealt with all sorts of people. I often tell my boys stories of those I’ve encountered that do whatever necessary to honor their word and how that leads me to respect and trust them so much. Conversely, I also tell them about people that lie, don’t stay true to their word or make excuses for poor behavior and how that affects a relationship. I believe showing both sides motivates them to want to continue to behave with honor and integrity at all times.
- Put the work in. I try to teach my boys that what you put in is eventually what you get out. Tough, consistent and smart work will ultimately help sharpen your skill set, increase your resolve and lead to better results. This lesson is extremely important and applies to almost every (and any) aspect of life. 2 weeks ago after we’d played football at the park my boys designed a series of races for me where I had to carry one of them at a time while sprinting or crawling with them on my back. At one point I was bent over breathing heavily and remarked how tough it was. My older son immediately said “well that’s why we do it daddy, it makes you better.” Apparently, they understand this particular lesson.
- Stick with winners. A major component of how we grow and develop is the company we keep and the people we choose to look up to. I make it a point to teach my boys to seek out positive role models and to learn from those that they respect and admire. This helps foster self-confidence, happiness and personal growth. By seeking out these types of people we create a healthy network of people while also avoiding the personality types that have the potential to bring us down.
- Laugh at yourself. I joke around with my boys a lot in fun and creative ways and they have no trouble returning the favor. I am also not afraid to share embarrassing moments that I’ve experienced in my life with them. Not only is this fun but it teaches them not to take themselves too seriously and to have a sense of humor about things. I believe this creates self-esteem, prevents them from becoming hyper-sensitive, helps them relate to people better and makes it easier to laugh off certain mistakes when they occur.