When I was younger my father always had a saying, “You can either choose to be a good father or you can be a good business man, but you cannot do both to your full potential.” What he meant was that in the course of his life he had seen great men who where successful fathers at home with kids that absolutely loved them while remaining only mediocre in the business world, and in the reverse he had seen great men of industry who where indispensable in the board room and in starting companies but where straddling near the brink of failure as a parent.
We have all seen it before, the successful business man with the spoiled kid who has everything except their father’s love and attention so they decide to act out or the poor hardworking father who slaves away at a job he hates and chooses to be less active in his career because he wants to spend as much time as possible with his children, it’s obvious looking at that line up which is the more honorable title.
Yet my question to myself as a new dad and to all of you reading this is can you do both successfully or is the necessary focus required on one going to impact in the long run the other?
Obviously no successful business man with spoiled kids will really ever admit that he may have made poor choices as a father for the sake of his company. Neither is any successful father with a low paying job going to say that he didn’t do well in his career because to him the benefits of having a child that loves him overshadows that thought. It’s against our human nature for us to look at ourselves and try to fix our shortcomings and failures, people will always try to point to their successes and say “but look at how well I did in this area”.
Ultimately I believe that only when we face our shortcomings can we truly be great, for some of us it may be too late to get that degree from MIT or make a million dollars by the age of 25, yet that shouldn’t stop us from making new goals that will help propel us into the next stages of our lives.
So keeping with the spirit of the new years I will say my new years resolution will always be this, to be a good father and a good businessman. Some like my own dad say it’s impossible, and having himself raised two kids on his own before he met my mother all the while being an executive of some very large companies, I may agree with him in most cases.
Though I think it’s possible, like any other goal if I really believe in it and try my hardest to accomplish it then I will be in a better position than most. If I fall short I hope that I end up being a better father of course but how will I know unless I try? If I believed everything that everyone told me then I wouldn’t be as blessed as I am today so is this any different?
I think it’s a balance, as each business opportunity comes I will always make sure that those interests are in line with my families interests. It’s still too early to see if a meeting will interrupt a soccer game or if the stress of trying to play both sides will take it’s toll on my health.
For the sake of my family and our future though I need to make sure I succeed in business, and for the sake of my son I need to succeed as a father. All the other titles of being a good husband and a man of faith etc are also important to me, but these two titles evenhandedly will determine the future of our family and I just hope that down the road when I look back I will have made the right decisions. Will you?