“The thinks you can think” by Dr. Seuss was running through my mind when I woke up this morning. It is Father’s Day, but what does that mean? I remember some thought I had nearly nine years ago. “Any man can father, but not all can be a father.” My worry was if I was good enough to hold the title of Daddy.
Looking back, and three children later, I can confidently say that my fears might have been overinflated and out-of-focus. The becoming was not just biological or the passage of time. It was something that I had to fetch from deep within my soul. That becoming involved sacrifice, courage and big dreams.
I have to admit that being a father has entrenched some deep passion for authentic leadership. It means looking beyond myself at all times and in every action I take. Even when I take time to unwind and rebuild, I frequently ask myself how that can help me to recharge in order to serve better and bigger.
Let me share with you three precious leadership qualities fatherhood has taught me. These are patience, presence, and practice.
Patience, according to Wikipedia, is the state of endurance under difficult circumstances, which can mean persevering in the face of delay or provocation without acting on annoyance/anger in a negative way; or exhibiting forbearance when under strain, especially when faced with longer-term difficulties. Patience is the level of endurance one can take before negativity. [TweetMe]
For as long as they could belt out a shout as toddlers, all our children call out to me at night. For some of you night owls, this may be a walk in the park. But I am like a chicken, when the sun rises I wake up and when it sets, my shut-eye begins. So waking up three times in the middle of the night is a BIG deal for me. At first, I was uptight about it. But I began to treasure the fact that I was on the front seat of our children’s growth.
As I developed my character trait of being steadfast, it began to affect my relationships and leadership. My ‘short-fuse’ grew a little longer with time. I was becoming more appreciative of other people and also value their contributions more.
Presence is the state or fact of existing, occurring, or being present. I especially loved a meaning from the 1570s meaning carriage, demeanor, aspect and that of divine, spiritual or incorporeal being felt as present from 1660s. Although I had made a choice of being present for my family, I did not fully appreciate the work I’d have to put into it.
It meant coming up with memories for my family. I craved for anecdotes that one day we could all look back to with nostalgia. One night, we had such a heavy downpour that our backyard was left under four inches of water. Looking at the flotilla of garden equipment and toys floating on the water, it was a little depressing.
Then a light went off in my mind. Why not don our rubber boots or Crocs and play some soccer? When I got home from work that evening, that’s exactly what we did. Our older children have never forgotten that day. They talk about it with pride and knowledge of who they are and where they belong.
As a leader, not only do you have to be present. Your presence has to matter, you will have to get your hands dirty many times over. It is uncomfortable, but those you lead will remember it forever. [TweetMe]
Practice is the repeated performance or systematic exercise for the purpose of acquiring skill or proficiency. After learning patience and being present, the most difficult for me has been to keep on practicing to grow my leadership.
The pain and strain of getting into a new space of learning has left me exhausted on many occasions. However, I need to have courage to pick myself up and practice what I have learned over time. Without this, my knowledge, skill and aptitude will only but fade away. [TweetMe]
I was challenged to get out of my comfort zone two years ago. Being a father to our children was (and still is) working out pretty well. It has been comforting to know that I am great father (the votes are in from all our three children).
My challenge came in a young man who had just lost his dad to a road accident. He was hurting bad, worried for himself, his mother and siblings. He forced me to open up my heart and practice what I preached in my own home. Today, I received this email from him. I have to admit that I couldn’t help but tear up as I read it. For me, it’s one Father’s Day gift that is difficult to match.
“Id just like to let u know that you have been the closest thing to a father since Dad’s departure from this earth and in that im greatful. Even though im quiet sometimes i always know in my heart that i can confide in you and seek your council when needed. Thank you. Happy fathers day Mr.Kimunya and God bless you.” [sic]