My One-Year-Old Daughter Taught Me 3 Leadership Lessons

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Leaderonomics

16-06-2017

6 min read

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I could safely say I witnessed a miracle when our newborn came into my life. It was a moment that changed our lives forever.

Well, probably not literally, or as dramatically as it sounds, but her presence surely made a big difference as we had a third (very delicate) person crashing into the lives of two love birds who just got married.

I still scroll through my phone for pictures of that very special day in the labour room. I still remember her baby smell, her soft, tender skin and the odd wrinkles on her hands and tiny fingers. Every moment of tending to her, watching her feed, sleep and the whole works seemed so magical.

Today, my newborn Lily, is one-year and seven months old and all the“magical feelings” seem to have dissipated.
We are all creatures of habit and coping with work and family demands turned me into a ruthless robotic dad.

It was tough to adapt at first but sacrifices had to be made. I had to let go of some “me-time” and date nights with my wife. Life eventually taught me how to accept my responsibilities and helped me place those chores on an autopilot mode.

The novelty feeling that I had in the beginning is now gone. Yes, I enjoyed learning how to change diapers initially, but now a full diaper makes me squirm especially when my wife is not around. I will spare you the other details but read on to learn how fatherhood made me the man I am today.

It is easier when all you have to do is provide but in this day and age, where both parents have to work, it is not fair for us to expect our spouse – in my case, my wife – to manage all the washing, cleaning, teaching and caring.

Having a newborn is like a chance to paint on an empty canvas. The first point of contact for a baby is the mother and the father. Both parents are equally responsible for providing love and support for the child.

Although feeding may be out of the equation for me, I realised men can play a huge role in raising a child by being the pillar of strength to their spouse. One of the best gifts a father can give the child is a safe, harmonious and loving family.

I am not going to dive into my journey or responsibilities of fatherhood but I am going to share my experiences of being a young father and three valuable lessons my toddler had taught me.

Never procrastinate

As a young father, the first thing I learnt is how important it is to get my act together and get things done. There is no such thing as waiting for the right time. Growing up, one can never escape from “mastering” the art of procrastination.

I was caught in the habit even at work – delaying tasks, avoiding complicated projects until the very last minute and going through the chaos of completing the backlogs.

Now that I have a child, I can’t afford to procrastinate because when work starts piling up, I have to stay back to deal with it and miss the opportunity – and quality time – to be with my daughter.

I realised procrastinating when you have a young child, is like delaying your diaper duties. When it’s full, it gets nasty. The repercussions of it – think along the lines of soiled diapers leaving a stain on your carpet or sofa – can be quite troublesome.

Knowing when and how to plan your tasks ahead makes you more organised as days go by. I am not a professional planner or an organised person to say the least but putting in some effort to improve on my planning skills will get me there somehow.

I am confident that by the time my daughter turns 10, I would have mastered the art of planning for myself and her future.

Trouble shoot immediately

Next, I realised that I can actually learn anything in a jiffy.

There is no formal training or certification to be a dad – from soothing a wailing baby to taking care of them when they are unwell – tasks that seem impossible yesterday can be sorted easily today because of the love for your child.

You tend to learn what is needed for the job along the way.

When I feel like complaining about sleepless nights, I think about friends who have it worse.

For instance, a good friend’s child has leukaemia and I don’t know where he draws the strength and ability to handle his child, family members and work.

That’s life. At the workplace, some people have a tougher journey but remain composed while others may seem to have it easy but can easily lose control. Everyone’s journey is unique. Experience them in a way that makes the most sense to you.

Sometimes, skills that are needed to manage a crisis – big and small – need to be self-taught. I suppose we may not get it right in the first few tries but you will eventually become good at managing issues on your own.

I’ll give you a good example.

When communication between you and your toddler is limited to a wail, pout or other bodily gestures, you automatically trouble-shoot and have a checklist in your mind.

As soon as I hear my daughter wailing, I have to either check her diaper, her stomach, her mouth, her temperature or just hold her to find out what would calm her down.

If you are a leader and there is a crisis at your workplace, you will have to take immediate measures to find the root cause of the problem and mend it.

At times, no one can teach you how to do these things. You will just have to observe and learn how to pacify yourself and others when there is a need.

Eliminate the distractors

I thought by providing her with a comfortable home, quality food and clothing, my child will be contented but by the time she was six-months-old, she developed another need: to play. She needed quality interaction on a daily basis to “survive”.

There was a need to hold, talk and entertain her until she’s tired. And they can have what seems to be a never-ending supply of energy.

This was a huge challenge for me while it was much easier for my wife. It dawned on me that I no longer have “me-time”.

I had to give up my evening routines – a game of football, the usual hangout sessions to watch ESPN with my buddies and spending time reading things online.

I had to be efficient with the way I managed my time, eliminating activities that took my attention away from my main priorities.

I also didn’t have the luxury of time to hit the gym so I resorted to home workouts. Despite all these, my wife still cries for help as she too, is finding it difficult to cope and I try my best to manage her emotions and needs as well.

To put things into a professional perspective, when we assume new leadership roles (or even as established leaders), we may find ourselves overwhelmed with responsibilities and we will have to eliminate – or deprioritise – activities that distract us from our main tasks.

On top of all these, we should also enhance our EQs (emotional quotient) to manage ourselves and our staff or team members in the process.

In a nutshell

As a parent, we tend to focus on fulfilling the financial, education and academic needs of our children. But remember that we also have the responsibility of instilling the right values in them and I am saying that this can be achieved through our own behaviour.

Just take things like appreciating family time, helping others, showing compassion to the elders and observing common courtesy for example. I have to walk the talk before I can expect or teach my child to practise these things.

Raising a value-driven all-rounder is not an easy task but it’s not impossible either.

Translate the values that you want your child to imbibe into your own lives and practise them first, at all instances even at our workplace, and when these values become your foundation, it’s easier to model them to your children.

The same applies to our workplace. Model the right values, character and even working style that will help your team or business achieve the intended goals.

When leaders walk the talk, they are setting a progressive culture in place for the rest to follow suit.

Qhairyl is a ninja daddy. He trains his toddler at night and youths at school during the day. He is currently a growth partner in Corporate Services. To find out more, e-mail info@leaderonomics.com. Have similar stories to share or unique lessons that your children have taught you? Share your thoughts with us by writing to editor@leaderonomics.com or leaving a comment at the end of this article.

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