As a father there are a lot of things that I want to teach my children, so much I hope to share. There are many things I am looking forward to doing with them for the first time and sharing with them as they gain some wisdom from those experiences. I believe all parents are lifetime teachers and, do not ever be confused that because I write predominantly for men that I undervalue the position of mom. Mothers are another huge mission, but I write mainly for men. Fathers are often undervalued; before you argue that, you must stop and look at the statistics. This is one of the reasons The Fallible Man exists. We hope to encourage and inspire men to do everything they can to be the best version of themselves. To the men who wish to be good fathers and are being prevented from doing so; never give up, because your child never will. There is an ember in every child’s heart that refuses to be extinguished, hoping their father loves them. Never give up hope and never stop trying. To the men out there who have fathered a child and shunned your responsibility, step up and fix it. Be the man you were meant to be.
With all the many things we are to pass on to our children I have often wondered about what to prioritize. What would I tell my daughters if I only had minutes left to pass on knowledge that would shape their life without me?
This is the list.
1. Your Life is Your Responsibility
There is one person and one person alone over whom you have control in this life—and that is yourself. Since you are the only person you can control, you are the only person who can take responsibility for your life. That includes your energy, your happiness, your fulfillment, your career, your choices and more. You are responsible for you and you alone. You are not responsible for anyone else. How could you be? It is their responsibility to take care of themselves. Yes, you can and should support someone in making good choices, building a life that makes them happy, and taking care of themselves. In fact, taking responsibility for your own well-being is precisely how we are better able to be present for those around us. Just remember: Support and responsibility are two extremely different approaches. You take responsibility for yourself. You support other people. Do your best not to reverse or mix up the two.
You will have friends, close friends and loved ones and maybe one day a family. You are responsible for you and you support them. Teach your children about this and support your children, they will make their own way with what you pass on.
2. Being Afraid is Okay, letting it stop you from doing what you should is not.
Have courage. This is how fireman run into burning buildings, police officers chase bad men trying to do people harm and soldiers stand their ground in hell. You must be courageous, and courage is not the absence of fear, but the ability to overcome it and not be imprisoned by it. It is the ability to move forward when all others run away. Fear can keep you sharp and alert to dangers but never surrender to it.
No person is “fearless.” We are all often fearful of things we cannot control and things that will likely never happen. Healthy people learn to control the fear and use it to shape themselves into a better person. Meet fear head on, scream into the darkness that you will never bow before it. You will come out stronger than you ever knew was possible.
3. Just Keep Going No Matter What
You might lack skill, you might lack hope, you might lack money—honestly, most people, at one point or another, have lacked these seemingly important endowments. But if you have grit, determination, and persistence, you will always make it through to brighter days because you can outlast the days that make you want to give up. If you learn to become comfortable with the discomfort of rejection, uncertainty, and obscurity you will forever persevere to claim the moments of joy and accomplishment you seek. Life will not always look how you imagined it because life is rarely predictable, but it will feel familiar, it will feel right, it will feel like home.
All you have to do is keep going. No matter what.
Stagnation is the anthesis of this thought and by far one of the worst things you could possibly do. Dead things stagnate, all that is life is in motion. Constant change and growth allow you to become all you are truly meant to be.
“Around here, however, we don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things… and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”
4. Listen More than You Speak!
You were given two ears and one mouth for a reason. Perhaps it is because you were meant to spend more time listening than speaking. Listening is a full body activity. Your eye contact, body language, and what you do with your hands defines if you are listening no matter what you say. Be in the moment and actually “hear” people.
As humans, one of our basic needs is to feel heard, seen and understood. When you honor someone else with your undivided attention, you help assuage their anxiety, wash away their worry and find clarity in the chaos. Because you are showing them that despite how bad things might seem, they are not alone.
Listen intently. Do not just hear the words and syllables—listen so you can understand and relate. Listen to learn. Open your mind up to comprehend what is happening in the world around you and within you. Listen to empathize. Open your heart up to imagine what someone else is going through.
Sometimes, we just need someone to lend an ear. The more adept you are at doing so, the better. And the more likely you are to get the same in return.
A note of caution on this, many people will try to take advantage of you and your valuable time. Learn to decipher who is in need of your valuable attention and those who just want to manipulate your generosity.
5. Release the idea that things could have been any other way
There is no point in wondering what if. There is no point in pondering what could have been. There is no point in believing in what should have been. There is only the way things actually are. The rest is all made up in your mind. Truth is, it is useless to try to make sense of the past. The past only exists as a memory—a recollection kept alive by your belief in its importance. Like using an abstract painting to interpret reality, your mind misconstrues what happened to fit your prior experience and to influence your future expectations. The future is similarly a figment of your imagination. It does not yet exist. Thus, the only thing that matters—the only moment of any significance—is this one right now.
Life could have played out in a million different ways. But it did not. And now you are here. It might be painful. It might be uncomfortable. It might be frustrating. But it is the way it is, nonetheless. The sooner you come to terms with this fact, the sooner you can go about living a peaceful life. Would you rather torture yourself with scenarios that never played out or would you rather be at peace? Either way, you get to decide.
Many people have wasted a lifetime pondering “what if?” Do not ever become like them, you have what is now. Wasting time on things you cannot change is life draining and will rob you of the possible value of now.
There is a bunch of other advice to impart as a father, generational wisdom to share. Maybe you have one that you think ranks in the top 5, I would love to hear about it in the comment section and hear what you have to say about it. Please share with us. I would like to leave one more piece of wisdom you need to share with your child if you will allow.
6. It is Okay to fail as long as that is not where the story ends.
Failure is the greatest teacher you will ever have; you will learn more from failure than almost anything else. Do not be afraid of it; everyone fails. What separates people is who gathers their newfound knowledge and keeps going and who chooses to stop at failure.
Thomas Edison once said “I never failed at making a light bulb, I just found 99 ways not to make one”
Failure is part of the education process that provides critical knowledge, Edison also said
“of the 200 light bulbs that didn’t work, every failure told me something that I was able to incorporate into the next attempt.”
Embrace your failures with gratitude, if you can learn to do this then you will never have limits.
Thanks for joining me!
The Fallible Man
Be better tomorrow because of what you do today!