He was a busy guy who had big dreams. His little girl slowed him down and helped him focus on what’s important.
Fatherhood is a very natural thing; it’s not something that shakes up my life but rather it enriches it. –Andrea Bocelli
Before you become a father, you hear people talk how it can affect your life. I know I heard many comments about how it would change my life and my career. Quite a few people told me it would change my life in ways I couldn’t, at the time, understand.
The day my daughter was born I got to meet someone who was more special than I could understand. She changed our lives, and we couldn’t be happier. Fatherhood made me a better person and better at my career too.
Put things in perspective
Having a little girl to come home to at the end of the day made life real. The problems at work were put into perspective and helped me become more level headed. Before this, I could become agitated easily and say or do something out of line.
Prioritize your activities
When you are single, you can sometimes get engrossed in work and spend long hours at work. After my wife and I had gotten married, she worked a second job for a long time to pay off college debt. During this time, I could also work longer hours and spend time doing things that may not be the most productive.
Once you have a family and little ones you want to get home and see at the end of the day, you start to look at work differently. “Is this the most productive thing I can do?” is a question I started asking myself. We can start to do a lot of busy work if we don’t watch what we are doing and screen out the time-wasters.
Develop good routines
I wasn’t consistent about sleep and meal times before I had children. This would make my routine kind of haphazard and I would get to work at different times. This was a problem to get to meetings on time.
We quickly realized our daughter liked to be on a routine. She seemed to sleep better when we followed a schedule. Our daughter wasn’t initially a good sleeper, so we began to value sleep more. After getting on a routine myself, I started to notice I was more productive at work. Being a dependable employee made for better annual raises too.
Master the fundamentals
Before our first daughter was born, I was one that would do tasks quickly and perhaps not give my best effort. If you saw the first timenI changed a diaper, it was a messy situation. I soon learned how important it was to take the time to do these things correctly. I took the time to master the fundamentals and become a better father.
Working in technology for a few years before my daughter was born, I didn’t learn some key things I should have picked up. I saw the parallel in my work to my home life; I needed to slow down and sharpen my skills to become more productive. This step helped me shore up my technical base and allowed my career to prospers.
Learn something new
Children see the world through fresh eyes. Working in a field for a few years, you start to think you have it mostly figured out. As our daughter grew, she was constantly learning. You could see the twinkle in her eye when she learned something knew and understood.
My first few years in software development I concentrated on one technology and learned it quite well. Right around the time my daughter was born, I began to learn a new development language. I found my interest in going to work and learning something new made me more excited to be there. That is one thing I try to keep constantly learning new technologies to keep my passion for learning strong.
Rekindle your curiosity
My daughter loved going to zoos when she was younger. There were many new animals for her to see and learn about. She enjoyed going to the petting zoo and touching the animals. As she got a little older, she started to ask more questions about the animals, “Where is this animal from?” and “What does the lion like to eat?” Her never ending curiosity always seemed to be wanting to know more.
Dan Miller, career coach and author of 48 Days to the Work you Love, talks about ways we can keep our curiosity up. He urges us to periodically look for new experiences and opportunities outside of our normal activities. So if we find our self in a rut we can go to a new concert or eat some new type of food. I try to break up my routine and challenge myself and I even amaze myself what I can do.
Today I have two kids, and they are quite a bit of fun to be around. My youngest is a boy who always has a smile on his face. A few month ago, I was listening to Michael Hyatt’s “This is Your Life Podcast” where he spoke about how he had to learn to smile as a leader of Thomas Nelson.
That made me conscious of this small but important gesture we can make to help us be more personal. It made me think how my son already knows this important step. My kids have taught me a lot and helped my career a ton!
Photo: Flickr/ Amélien Bayle