Monday, December 26, 2011

20 days to 40

When each of the boys were born, I bought each of them a nice Moleskine notebook and metal bookmark and decided that I would occasionally jot down pearls of fatherly wisdom that one day I could hand over. Rather than have the whole thing come across like some saccharine, fatherly riff on "Life's Little Instruction Book" (or whatever it's called,) I wanted to draw as much on real life experience so I could pass on truly authentic advice, rather than glib "just be nice to everyone" bullshit.

The past eight years have certainly been eventful, and I've been able to draw on a lot while jotting down those notes. I think (hope) the most poignant thoughts I can pass along to my boys concern the handling of mistakes. I've certainly made my fair share over the years, both personal and professional, but I've learned more from them than from my successes. Beyond the specifics of these, the overarching learning has been to take full ownership of mistakes. Deflecting blame, or denying the existence of a fault always leads to further problems and, in my experience anyway, never to a solution.

Thankfully, I've been able to rectify some of the biggest mistakes of my life by tackling them head on and taking ownership of them, rather than trying to avoid the consequences. To say that this has been difficult is beyond an understatement, and on more than one occasion I would have much rather hidden and ignored the problems rather than try and do anything about them. In fact, on numerous occasions I have denied my problems, and life certainly didn't improve as a result. I've faced the fear of loss because of colossal mistakes and have been able to ultimately stitch things back together by acknowledging what's important.

No doubt the boys won't fully comprehend this until they've lived through some mistakes of their own. The challenging thing about trying to pass along wisdom to your kids is realizing that you can't protect them from everything, and understanding that for them to really become fully-rounded people they need to face their own difficulties. If I can at least arm them with the emotional strength to proceed, then hopefully I've done a good job as a dad. 

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