Car racing legend, Mario Andretti, was once asked: “What is your #1 tip to becoming a world class racer?” His simple answer: “Never look at the wall! Your car will go in the direction your eyes are pointed. Don’t look at the wall!”
Yet, at home, many of us husbands and fathers are “crashing into the wall” because our mental eyes are focused and fixated on beliefs that are toxic to us, beliefs that keep us stuck and thinking like victims. And the price tag is high…and it is being paid by our most precious people, our wife and kids.
In Part 1 of this series, we de-mythified Toxic Beliefs #1 and #2:
- “I don’t NEED to grow as a man, husband and father. I’m doing just fine.”
- “I ASSUME that I will AUTOMATICALLY grow.”
In Part 2, I dispelled two common excuses in Toxic Beliefs #3 and #4:
- “I don’t know HOW to grow.”
- “I don’t have the TIME to grow as a man, husband and father.”
In Part 3, I addressed “dad guilt” and the tendency that many of us have towards paralyzing perfectionism in Toxic Beliefs #5 and #6:
- “I’m going to make TOO MANY MISTAKES as a husband and father.”
- “I’ve have to find THE BEST WAY.”
In this article, Part 4, I will wrap up this series by tackling two more beliefs that I have heard repeatedly, that keep us weak and playing small at home.
Toxic Belief #7: “I don’t have enough energy to be a good husband and father!”
“I’m too tired!” “I’m just not feeling it right now.” “I’ve had a long day and just want to relax.” “Let my wife deal with it.” How many of us have been trampled by one of these beauties running wild in our heads? Most of us, I’m certain.
Several years ago, my wife and I trained for a 61-mile bike ride on Maui, Hawaii, called the West Maui Loop. It was spectacularly beautiful, but included over 4,000 feet of elevation rise. Translation: it had a lot of hills! That might be child’s play to some of you, but to me, an amateur road biker, it was enormously intimidating.
In preparation, I created a training schedule that involved a lot of biking and intense outdoor training on “Hell Hill”, the steepest stretch of road in our surrounding area. Since we were in Seattle in the middle of winter, the weather was wet, dark & ugly. Needless to say, it would require an extreme level of dedication to stick to the plan.
But fast forward 1 ½ months and 6 hours later, and you would have found our riding group sitting in a brewery in Lahaina (Maui), slapping each other on the back and exchanging stories of the amazing experience. I even sustained a fairly brutal fall and still managed to finish the ride.
What is the point of the story: If I had allowed “I don’t feel like it!” or “I’m too tired” to run me, I would have spent most of my training hours sitting by the fireplace, with a cup of coffee and a lot of good intentions. I sure as Hades wouldn’t have hauled my tail outside into the rain and gotten to work. And the West Maui Loop would have crushed me!
Here is to gut-level truth: Being a loving husband and a patient, engaged dad is bloody HARD WORK! There is no way around it! There are a lot of hills and bad weather. It requires training and self-sacrifice, a lot of saying “No” to my own comfort and convenience.
NBA great, Jerry West once commented, “You can’t get too much done in life if you only work on the days that you feel good!” If “feeling good” was the pre-requisite for embracing our roles as husband and father, most of us would opt out. But that is not what men do. Men embrace discomfort, we endure pain and we exert our precious energy for the greater good! That’s what makes us men.
Men, winning at home requires us to do hard things, tiring things…even when our energy level is low and we don’t feel like it! We FIND the energy! We CREATE the energy. Good intentions aren’t enough.
Write this new belief on a note card, carry it with you at all times, and pull it out when you feel like checking out at home: “I DON’T NEED to FEEL LIKE IT to be a loving husband and patient father!”
Toxic Belief #8: “Other husbands and dads are better than I am!”
Aah…Comparing yourself to someone else. Have you crashed into that wall yet? This one has plagued me. I have to be on guard against it constantly. My friend, if you allow yourself to entertain thoughts that “others are better than I am” or “I’m not as good as so and so,” it is just a matter of time before you “crash.”
So, how do we keep our eyes “off the wall” and “on the track”? How do we stay out of the toxic trap of comparing ourselves to others?
Here are 3 tips that have helped me.
Tip 1 There is no UPSIDE to comparing yourself to others.
- When you determine that the other guy is “better than you,” you feel DISCOURAGED, your energy and motivation drop, and you disengage. You then fulfill your own prophecy.
- When you judge yourself to be “better than” the other guy, you become PROUD, and pride ALWAYS kicks you in the crotch.
Neither of these help you.
TIP 2 Remember these 3 FACTS about other people:
· Fact 1: There is ALWAYS someone ahead of you—MAKE PEACE WITH IT!
· Fact 2: The “better ones” are your teachers—LEARN FROM THEM!
· Fact 3: Someone is looking to YOU as the “better one”—SHOW THEM THE WAY!
TIP 3 Their story is not your story. Live YOUR story.
What do I mean? So often I look at someone else, who is living in chapter 11 of their personal story and compare them to myself, living in chapter 3 of my story. I’m comparing my beginning to their last lap. Is that a fair comparison? No way! The circumstances of their life are totally different. The characters in their story are different. The place in their journey is completely different. They are different.
Comparing ourselves to others is never apples for apples. It will always give us a skewed conclusion. We’ve got to focus our eyes on the road ahead, and win our own race.
Here is an alternative, empowering truth to encourage you: “You are the perfect husband for your wife and the ideal dad for your kids.” Grab hold of that! It really is true!
Men, I want to leave you with one final belief and challenge, taken from Og Mandino’s book, The Greatest Salesman In The World. I hope it stimulates you to “keep on keeping on” in your personal growth journey as a husband and father! You were created for greatness! Don’t you settle for anything less! Read these words as if they were written just for you:
“I was not delivered into this world in defeat, nor does failure course in my veins.
I am not a sheep waiting to be prodded by my shepherd.
I am a LION, and I refuse to talk, to walk, to sleep with the sheep.
The slaughterhouse of failure is NOT my destiny.
I WILL PERSIST UNTIL I SUCCEED!”
Tying it all together
You were created for greatness, but being a great father and husband requires hard work, even when you are tired and have little left in the tank. It also requires that you tend to your own journey and don’t get caught in the trap of comparing yourself to other men in their own journeys. You must commit yourself to the personal work of growing as a husband and father. Persist until you succeed, my brother!
What will you commit to do in order to grow and succeed as a man, a husband or father? Please share your thoughts in the comments section, as I learn just as much from you as you do from me.