How Awesome Dads Make Great Leaders

I thought I was a pretty awesome leader back in the day… until I had my son. Not to say i was a terrible leader, but being a dad helped me realize the leadership skills I was avoiding to develop all these years.

A Life-Defining Moment

I remember the day Quinn Michael Trong Nguyen was born. I learnt the power of love. It consumes you and fills you up like nothing you've ever consumed! You can eat all the chocolate, favourite meals and refreshing drinks and you'll never feel as fulfilled as the love you feel when you hold your child. You make a promise that very moment.

I am here for you no matter what happens. I will help you grow into the amazing person that you are meant to be."

What an amazing day it truly was!

The Broken Promises

And then the rollercoaster started. I was going through the crumbling of my marriage on top of the normal challenges of running a business. I had days where I woud pick up Quinn and put on a fake smile...at which point I later realized that kids catch all of this stuff. No hiding from them. And that made it more difficult - as I felt not fully present to him. I didn’t feel as if I was fully engaged with him. And especially when I wake up in the mornings with these crappy guilty feelings, the rest of the day was shite (last part was said with a bit of a Scottish accent..because if it’s not Scottish..it’s….haha..I know some of you got that! I digress).

My business and how I connected with people was … shite! And nothing I did felt great. I had no idea what I was saying to clients, prospects or people in general. I was losing money and moving towards being broke. I got angry and frustrated. I had co-founded a non-profit called CASCO Telfer at the Telfer School of Management at the University of Ottawa. I’ve lead and mentored students for over 15 years through this organization. CASCO was pretty much a part of my skin. And yet, I had lost my leadership strength during those years...and ask ANYONE...literally ANYONE who knows me here in Ottawa. CASCO is ME! And when I fell apart...well, CASCO went on...but I was not a present leader. I missed so many meetings. I was sick often. And when I was there, my mind was in space. That was me in business as well. I remember trying to figure out how the fuck do I get my mojo back in my business. I read a whole bunch of leadership books and none of the business strategies worked to pull me back. 

HOWEVER... I came across a famous quote on leadership and somehow it resonated with me that day.

Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others. —Jack Welch"

The lightbulb finally went on and I realized that everything stemmed from the feeling that I broke the biggest promise of my life...the one I made to my son. And that was the moment I knew that in order to get back on that track to keep my promise, I had to work on me first. Living up to my promise...living up to my purpose... would change how I showed up at work and at places I cherished, like CASCO. And so I went on a mission to give my own definition of what makes a awesome dad and pursued it. 

And here were the TOP 10 POINTS I learnt in pursuit of being an awesome biz dad...aka..a DudeBuddha (but you already knew that!)

TOP 10 POINTS on MY PURSUIT OF BEING AN AWESOME DAD!

  1. The natural voice you speak to your children becomes their internal voice. You speak to them with anger and frustration, you will breath that into them and it will come out of them in the future when they are stressed and pressured. As a child and into parenthood. Find ways to be truly happy from within and it will show in your voice.
  2. If you want to give your kid strength, believe they have it. If they fall, believe they will be ok. If they are crying because they don’t want to go to bed despite feeding them properly and doing all the “right” things before they go bed, believe that they will be ok. You will see that your child will build that strength. Now..believe you can do it. Believe in your own strength.
  3. Don’t be afraid when you realize that they may actually be smarter than you! I call that the “on snap” moment. Kid says something they noticed that you had hoped they did not and you say...oh snap! My freakin’ kid is smart!” When the master becomes the student is when the master succeeded as a master. 
  4. Before you can help them be healthy in mind, body and spirit..ya kinda have to do it yourself first...or really, you just have to show you are persistently working towards it. 
  5. Never ever give up on yourself and by virtue of that, you’ll never fail your child(ren)
  6. Will be present and feel grateful with every moment
  7. Worrying will lead to nothing. So focus on solving the problem and what you can control.
  8. It’s ok to let your kids know that you don’t know the answer. They start figuring it out with you...or even better, they figure it out by themselves
  9. Showing authority sucks. Intimidation is harmful to them and to yourself. Creating a more father-child partnership environment is better.
  10. Never discount what they are feeling. Accept it. Love them for it. Listen to them. Then guide them towards greater self-empowerment. 

So...now how do these exact 10 points translate to making you a great leader?

  1. The natural voice you speak to employees become their internal voices. So many leaders wonder why their staff become so resentful and difficult and soooo everything bad underneath the sun. And few leaders will see or admit to taking responsibility of the actions and more importantly, attitudes of their staff. Your pursuit to have the same positive and inspiring tone at home is exactly what you need to kill it in business! Kill it is a good thing here by the way. Feelin’ me?...you know what I MEAN by that!
  2. Don’t try to do everything for them. Don't try to look over their shoulders. Believe in them. Let them fall. Guide in their rise. Build your own strength to let them do all of this.
  3. We’ve all heard hire people smarter than you. Let them grow “pass” you. Leaders are not afraid of building leaders.
  4. Show up healthy and happy and you’ll see your staff will move towards there as well. Watch how you starting hiring different types of individuals.  Watch how some individuals may not seem as a good fit. Stats show that healthy and happy individuals perform way better.  You think you can attract them in the long-run without committin to being one yourself?
  5. Never ever give up on yourself and by virtue of that, you’ll never fail your team.
  6. Be present and feel grateful with every moment.
  7. Worrying will lead to nothing. So focus on solving the problem and what you can control.
  8. Showing vulnerability will turn you into a more powerful individual. It’s ok to let your team know that you don’t know the answer. They start figuring it out with you...or even better, they figure it out by themselves
  9. Showing authority sucks. Intimidation is harmful to them and to yourself. Creating a more team-like environment is better.
  10. Never discount what they are feeling. Accept it. Love them for it. Listen to them. Then guide them to learn what you feel is going to protect them and help them become more in self-empowered.

I barely changed the wording of some of them even!! So to those business fathers out there! Want to see how you can be a stronger leader, try taking a goooood look at yourself at home. In there can be amazing nuggets that will transform your life at home and in business.

Do you have any awesome correlations between a great leader and an awesome dad? Please share, comment and any other thoughts that can kick up a notch for awesome biz dads in this world!