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Updated: Nov 29, 2023

Posted on January 2021
"A boat is safe in the harbour. But this is not the purpose of a boat” - Paulo Coelho

Isn't our primary role as parents to be the kind of adults we want our children to grow up and be? To teach our kids how to live successfully without us?

If we genuinely want our children to become great and empathic leaders, the parents and adults of their lives need to be the example for them to emulate. It means giving them exposure to great leadership qualities long before they ever get to a work environment.

Leadership is taught at home.

The future belongs to our children and the best gift we can give them is for us to simply yet profoundly be what we want them to be. Not perfect, but honest and forthcoming, considerate and calm, resilient and striving. Little people are like sponges as they observe our every move. I wish I could say my child only witnessed the best of me. I am admittedly a work in progress, and I did the best I could with what I knew at the time. What I do know however, is that despite my downfalls and weaknesses, she also witnessed me clean up my own messes, take action to improve and be truthful about my own struggles and being accountable and responsible.

It's rarely what we say but, more importantly, how we take care of ourselves that impacts our children most. How we lead our lives, personally and professionally really matters. Teaching our children to effectively communicate, problem-solve and make decisions by demonstrating this in our own lives is like the most powerful book on leadership our kids could ever read.

I once read a blog post from James Altucher who said as a result of his privileged life growing up as ‘suburban lucky’, it ruined him and made him complacent. And so, he admires people such as Jewel who wasn’t so lucky and suffered as a young girl. Who became homeless singing for pennies on the streets. She had ‘nothing to lose’ and everything to gain - so taking some bold steps was far, far better than where she was. Jewel had to fight for her basic needs of food, shelter and clean water while people like James took it for granted along with a whole lot more.

You could say that out of desperation, people like Jewel perhaps take greater and bolder steps than the irritable and discontent yet comfortable middle-class kids. What James like many others admire in people like Jewel is the courage and enormous desire to do something great. It isn't necessarily the best ideas or most talented that achieve. It's the ones with the most grit and tenacity. The ones that want it bad enough.

As parents this is a big lesson that we need to nourish our kids yet keep them hungry enough to keep that flame lit. The best advice ever given to me that I will never forget: “Give our children enough that they can do something with it, but not too much that they end up doing nothing.”

But let me ask you this: aren’t most parents suburban lucky too? Perhaps we're all just a little too comfortable ourselves that we give up aiming higher? Perhaps our children have witnessed us become complacent? Perhaps the middle class reach a point in Maslow's Hierarchy somewhere in the middle of that pyramid, believing that full self-realization may not be in the cards for them.

Too risky. Too hard. Too uncomfortable.

I want my daughter to know and see that I don't stop growing and thriving because I've reached some mediocre point of comfort and success or because society tells me I might be too old. I want her to see that I can do anything I want at any stage in my life because life is filled with endless opportunity if we allow ourselves to seize them. I want her to see me continuing to grow and lead my own life in a way that stretches me…challenges me.

We all want our children to become masters of their lives don't we? We want them to be great leaders in what they do and in their community. We want them to be emotionally strong and to be kind, disciplined and loving. We want our children to be courageous and follow their hearts and find their happiness. We want them to do good in the world! We want them to find true and lasting love and live happily ever after! This is what most parents hope for their kids - isn't it?

The future leaders of the world are in our own homes. It starts there. We teach leadership in our homes by our actions and resolve not our words. We have the ability to mold and nurture a pipeline of decent human beings and great leaders by living our own best lives and being the best we can be.

Monkey see. Monkey do.


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