Have you ever thought about how you define success in life? Particularly for parents I believe this is an important question to consider. I read a definition this morning during my quiet time that was really inspiring. It’s by John Maxwell, and it’s one he decided on earlier on in his marriage, parenting, and career. His definition is: Success means having those closest to me love and respect me the most. Can you sense the intentionality in this definition? For most (myself included), it’ll be easier to win the praise and affection from strangers and those who don’t know you too well, because those folks don’t know the whole you. They don’t see your flaws everyday, nor do they get to make the commitment of unconditional love to you. So they see what they want to see.
Our families on the other hand have no other choice but to see what they see, and sometimes it ain’t pretty! Nevertheless, what’s so powerful about success meaning having those closest to me love and respect me, is that it places my family squarely at the center of how I view my own accomplishments. If I’ve achieved greatness but didn’t bring my family along for the journey, then in reality I’m a failure.
I’ve been thinking about this concept a lot lately as I have been pursuing multiple opportunities to expand my impact in my community. On the one hand, it’s been great because my wife and I have always wanted to be more engaged in our community, supportive of other young families growth, our marriage mission is to lead in community building efforts through our own experiences. However, anyone who has pursued their dreams can tell you that it’s hard work balancing pursuit of dreams, career, etc with family. That’s why it’s so important to place your family at the center of your dream definition of success.
Yesterday, I wanted to be at a school board meeting, but instead I choose to take my girls to the park (I enjoyed the park time, but afterwards I regretted not being at the school board meeting- I probably should have just brought them with me). This morning, I wanted to be at an educational council meeting but I choose to help my oldest daughter get ready for school (probably the right call). There will always be choices to make about how to spend my time which will inevitably create conflict, yet my job is to find the right balance of making those choices. I don’t want to be the guy at work wishing he was home with his family, or the guy at home feeling like he should be out doing other work. I’ve got to learn to be present where I am, and confident with the decision I made to be there, and this comes from remembering my own definition of success. I believe that I am successful as a father, if my daughters become leaders in their own right, and this only happens if they see leadership modeled. Sometimes that means expanding my own leadership potential in my work way from home. Sometimes that means being present to help my daughters see themselves as the leaders they are. It just depends on where I’m needed the most. Sometimes I get the decision right, sometimes I get it wrong. Hopefully as I grow as a parent, I’ll get this more right than wrong with increased practice.