Mike Berry is done being a good dad, because he wants something more—for himself, his wife, and his family.
I’ve come to a realization with fatherhood. Mostly, it’s due to my own self-evaluation. For decades now, men across the globe have worked hard to be good dads for their kids. I have too. But is good really good enough?
The world is full of good dads. Really good dads, in fact. Everywhere I look, I see good dads. Dads who coach little league, dads who drive their kids to school, dads who attend school functions, dads who take their daughter to a “Daddy-Daugther dance,” dads who play in the backyard with their family on a Sunday afternoon, dads who take their sons fishing … Good dads!
It’s what this world needs more of. Men who put their wives and children above everything else.
I believe in this to the core of my being. I take it very seriously. In fact, when I first became a father, nearly 14 years ago, I made a promise to myself to be the best father I could be. I do all of those things I just mentioned. I don’t often self-appreciate, but I’ll go ahead and say it—I’m a good dad.
I struggle though. Mostly with that last statement. My good-dadness (if that’s a word). To be perfectly honest, it keeps me up at night quite often. Even though I do a good job with my kids, I keep having this feeling that something’s missing. As if there’s a void in my fatherhood somehow. For months I wrestled with this feeling until, recently, it hit me: It’s easy for me to be a good dad. Not hard at all when I really think about it … attend their games, go on walks with them, watch their school play, listen to their stories about who did what in the cafeteria, play in the backyard with them, gives lots of hugs in the morning and at night before bed, etc. etc.
I’ve been told that I am a good dad because I do all of this. But is this really good enough?
How Good Is Good Enough?
I’ve started to look deeper into my life as a father. Specifically, the other stuff that battles for my attention. Let’s call it, “the margin in-between.” In between spending quality time with each one of my kids, my mind is divided. Actually, it’s preoccupied. Actually … no … it’s owned, by other things of way less importance, way too often.
What I tend to do in response is use my good dad moments as compensation for all of the in-betweens, the margin, where I’m preoccupied, owned, hard to get a hold of, even when my daughter is standing next to me, asking the same question five times. I’m consumed with stuff of way less importance. Who said what on Twitter … who sent me an email asking for this ... how many visits to the blog … deadlines for this article or that guest post … the list goes on and on. Yeah, I’m being a good dad most of the time. I do good at paying attention to my kids most of the time. I do good at being dialed in and focused on my family most of the time.
But I don’t want to be good anymore … I want to be great!
The Difference Between Good and Great
Greatness is found in what we choose to do with our entire life, not just some of our life. This has never been more true than with our parenting.
There’s quite a difference between being good and being great. Good is status quo. Good is acceptable around the world. You can get by with good in just about every area of life—your job, your personality, your extra-curricular activities, even your parenting. I’m just not okay with it anymore. I want more. I want to be more. I want my kids and my wife to be certain, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I am dialed into them, hearing them, and walking with them personally every day we are blessed with. I don’t want to split time between them and the in-between moments any longer.
This change begins when I consistently work on a few key areas of my life.
• My Time I’ve been guilty party #1 at wasting time. Mostly, I waste work time. The problem with this is that it causes work to spill into family time. Nine times out of ten, work ends up winning. Funny how that happens, right? Here’s the question I have to answer: Am I capitalizing on the time I have while they’re at school, to get work done, so that when they’re home I can focus my attention on them?
• My Focus A few months ago I redesigned my daily work schedule to keep me more focused than I’ve ever been in my adult life. I cut out nearly all meetings throughout the week, except Thursdays. I divided my tasks up into hour-long chunks throughout the day. I defined each minute of my workday from 9 am until 4 pm. All to achieve focus. I decided that if I could keep a strong focus on work during the day, while my kids were at school, and my wife was at her workplace, then I would have nothing else to focus on but them when they came home.
• My Energy How often do we give our energy to everybody, or everything, else, besides the very human beings who live under the same roof as we do? I’ll answer based on me: a trillion! I have allowed my energy to be zapped by so many unimportant things, or people who have no concern for my family or personal agenda. Much like my time and my focus, I have to spend energy wisely, and precisely, so that I have some left for the most important people in the world.
This is certainly not an overnight fix. It hasn’t been for me, and it won’t be for you either. Moving forward, I challenge anyone who’s reading this to take a hard look into your parenting. Ask yourself this: “Am I doing what it takes to just be good, get by, or maintain status quo? Or am I taking the opportunity to be great at the most important job in the world?”
I’m finished with good. I’m over status quo parenting. I want to be great. For my wife…for my kids…for our family!