Two Truths About Fatherhood That Have Helped Me in Business

In a recent post I talked about the importance of leveraging your professional tools and skills for use in your home. Conversely, there are skills you can develop in the home that can help you advance your career goals. Of the several you could explore, there are two that I have found the most potent and widely applicable. The first truth is my favorite:

No is strong. Yes is stronger.

Two of the most powerful words in the English language. As a father, it’s easy to use the wrong one.

For instance, I’ve been guilty of saying no because what a kid is asking to do is annoying to me. No, I don’t want to listen to parody songs about Fortnight. No, I don’t want you to make a batch of slime at the kitchen table. Saying yes wouldn’t have hurt anyone, I was just being selfish and I withheld from them some simple joys.

Conversely, the permissive yes can get you in trouble, too. Saying yes to late night snack indulgences has led to middle-of-the-night vomit cleanups on more than one occasion. You get the idea.

The permissive yes is not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about the empowering yes. I’m talking about resisting the urge to be overprotective and controlling and choosing to have faith in your child’s ability to navigate tough situations. Indulge their curiosity and creativity.

Some of the best bonding experiences I’ve had with my kids have started when I said yes and indulged their curiosity or creativity. Yes, you can walk the dog by yourself. Yes, you can try to make pancakes all by yourself. Yes, I will teach you how to mow the lawn.

These were situations where my children were demonstrating maturity, initiative, and responsibility. Saying no would have been a disservice to them. It would have meant that I didn’t want the trouble of having to re-mow the lawn or clean up the kitchen after them if it went poorly, and that’s a selfish no.

Instead, I responded with an affirming, encouraging, empowering yes.

And it has payed off.

The result is that my kids are now that much closer to the kind of independence and self-reliance that they need to have in order to be successful adults. This has become an ongoing practice in our home that has transferred will in my career.

Yes to new challenges.

Yes to new opportunities to grow and flourish.

Yes to new responsibilities.

Yes can take you far in your adventure in personal development. Consider how it can empower and encourage the people you manage as well.

The second truth is the most powerful of the two:

Gentleness is not weakness. It’s the noblest strength. 

This is not necessarily the most obvious statement for many men. Especially young men. But this truth has affected so much of my household over the last decade that I can’t stress it enough. But what exactly does this mean, and how would this apply in business? There are several ways.

There’s a passage in the Old Testament book of Proverbs that my dad used to quote to me: 

“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”


The implication here has to do with our speech and the manner in which we respond to situations.

My wife brought seven children into this world in a nine-year span. Don’t get me wrong, we’re incredibly blessed, but you can imagine the noise level in our house in the evening. There’s a certain time in the day, usually after dinner, where parental stamina starts to run low, precocious questions increase, and a donnybrook or two are underway. It’s at this point that my tongue starts to loosen up and my typically-pleasant nature starts to erode.

The only way we safely weather these little storms is when mom and dad refrain from erupting. When we remain firm, yet gentle, when attitudes and behaviors are out of control, we demonstrate something invaluable to our children: the power of controlled, measured, focused strength.

This is gentleness.

Gentleness does not mean soft and weak. It is not effeminate. It does not mean abdication or caving-in. Gentleness recognizes the potential damage of energy applied recklessly. Gentleness is the power to harness that energy and apply it with grace and precision.

An example from our home: an excitable son runs up to me screaming about some injustice. I do not match his tone or volume, I start low. I do not defend myself for being yelled at, I remain in control. As he carries on, I get lower, until I’m almost whispering. Along the way I see what’s really wrong (which usually isn’t the thing he’s crying about), and we address the heart of the issue. By the end of the conversation we are both talking.Gentleness prevailed.

Gentleness is also the humility to refrain from defending yourself. This is why I call it the noblest strength. People lash out and get nasty when they get defensive. Gentleness is the wisdom to recognize those affronts for what they are: defensive reactions to conflicting interests. Children have trouble behaving because they are people with interests that conflict with yours, not because they hate you. 

The same can be said for clients and coworkers.

Imagine these workplace scenarios: disciplinary reviews with a subordinate, tense negotiations with a client, heated boardroom debates, etc. You will find that as you respond with controlled, measured, focused strength to folks who are highly-intense, angry, and defensive, that situations will tend not to escalate out of control, more favorable outcomes become possible, and fewer feelings/egos are hurt.

There’s wisdom in that proverb my dad used to quote me. You can answer gently when you recognize the power of self-control, the real nature of any conflict, and that the better way to deal with people is with your guard down.

Two important truths to remember today: 

  1. No is strong. Yes is stronger
  2. Gentleness is not weakness. It is the noblest strength.

I hope you find these truths to be as effective for you as they have for me. I’m always eager to discuss these topics further. Leave a comment or connect with me here and let’s explore further.

To your adventure,

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