Chasing The Carrot

Today was a day that reminds me why I’ve always worked harder than the next guy. We took off in the middle of the day to go play tennis with the kids, grab a fresh deli pizza on the way home, watch a movie and eat some watermelon on a 95°F day. 🙂

Are you working tirelessly with little results? Learn benefits of chasing the carrot (goals) together. Click To Tweet

It was hot, exhausting and simply perfect.

Can you image taking 5 kids (nine years to two months) to play tennis? I know from experience that most people cringe when hearing me say things like that. “What?! You go out in public?” Yes. And we play tennis. And we go to the movies and parks and museums and, yes sometimes we go crazy.

Here’s How Our Day Went

But here’s the image. Now, let me preface this for those of you who don’t know me. I am a very loving father. I say ‘I love you’, I say ‘you are an important part of this family’, I say ‘man, I really appreciate the person you are becoming and I enjoy your personality’. I’m a Teddy Bear, ok?

But Teddy Bear goes commando (not the underwear kind, the military kind of commando.) And then I start saying things like ‘Get it done NOW!’, ‘Move it, I’m not waiting 20 minutes to load the car’, and ‘Cry and you’ll get another.’ Yeah, I’m a regular ole softy-kinda-hardass. When I’m loving, I become doting. When I am upset, toe the line and face the consequences cause here comes your own little mini-version of hell.

So, when we play tennis, there’s plenty of ‘Great shot!’s but there’s plenty of ‘What? There’s no crying in tennis! Run to the corner and back and let’s see how your attitude is.’ I do that with the girls too. 😉 In fact, Jonathan threw a temper and stormed off once today. Once. He didn’t realize Daddy had ‘skills’ until a green fuzzy object gave him a new crew at 60mph from 80 feet. Yeah, I still got my game. And his reflexes are pretty darn good. Of course, he gets ‘practice’, so they should be good.

We ran 1 lap to warm-up, 2 to warm down, as a family. Even two-year-old Olivia. But don’t think it was all militant. There was plenty of laughter when someone hit a ball over the fence or buzzed the tower of someone looking the other way.

But, guess what? At the end of the day, we circled up, hands in the middle, hoorah! Everyone is tired, everyone feels like a tight member of the team and everyone feels like they did something pretty rewarding. In two days of playing, Lauren and Nicole are drop hitting shots into the server’s box and Jonathan is hitting long volleys. Nicole the youngest player at five and a half, is even maneuvering to hit (though not successful yet) backhand shots. Wow.

So what’s the takeaway here?

Find the Middle Road

Be a Commando, kids need to respect their parents, but only use that personality to reel everyone back into established boundaries, be a Teddy Bear most of the time and let them know the difference. There’s no problem in telling a child he or she is not meeting expectations or not pulling their expected weight. It IS a problem however if you are degrading them or deflating their spirits in an attempt to ‘motivate’ change. That won’t happen so don’t do it.

Be Challenging in a Supportive Way

Push your child’s limits in a supportive way and stick with it despite unknowledgeable oppositionDon’t praise them when they suck. They know they suck and they know you suck when you tell them that they don’t. Trust me. I’ve coached kids and I am raising quite a brew. When kids experience ‘real’ success and overcome a ‘real’ challenge they appreciate the times they sucked and they appreciate the accomplishment. But mostly, they’ll appreciate that you noticed the difference and made a big deal over it. If I were to put together a Top Ten list to raise great children, appropriate praise would be #2 only to #1 security. (I’m probably going to write on that this week FYI).

When our 2nd-grade tackle football team started zero to two, the parents realized and appreciated the lessons and the teaching that was going on. But they were probably starting to prepare, as I would have as a ‘parent-only’, a big ‘you sucked, but you tried your best’ speech for what looked like a zero to five season. To make matters worse, I had an assistant coach who was adamant that we needed to change our plan.

My two-word response to his lengthy plea started with ‘No’ and ended with ‘change’. We then went three to zero to finish and moved into the top playoff bracket in which we mopped up the team that bullied us for our first loss, tied the league? Second place team and lost to the #1 team to finish 3rd in a league of 12. I assure you, had we implemented change just as the kids were getting used to their blocking assignments, we would have gone zero to five.

And trust me, those kids, those parents, those coaches felt achievement. It wasn’t a BS end of season party. We were celebrating hard work, a few practices that required headlights and we were basking in accomplishment. And that accomplishment was real and it was valid only because we had the good fortune to start off sucking. 🙂 We should all be so fortunate!

Get Your Priorities Right

If your job keeps you from spending that kind of quality time, quitI have two businesses and we’re doing work on 4 continents. I ‘get’ job satisfaction, I ‘get’ career motivation and I ‘get’ cash flow. And from time to time, I’ve had to push and ask my wife and children to sacrifice emotionally, physically and financially. But if those sacrifices are not short-term and sporadic (three to six months, no more than once a year) and if our kids are hating life and learning values, morals and priorities from someone other than me and my wife, then who cares?

Chase the carrot with your spouse and kids and let them have a say in which carrot from time to time. After all, you’re not the only one sacrificing and you damn well should not be the only one enjoying the spoils. But, don’t be the parent who forever chases that carrot only to find at the end of the race, there was no reward worth the sacrifice. I’ve seen that happen first-hand and it’s not pretty. The only acceptable thing you can say after many wasted years is “I’m sorry. My priorities were wrong. I would not make the same choices again and I won’t from now on.” But for too many parents and adult children, that comes too little and too late.

Go. work hard, play hard and have fun. As we say at PIQ Mentoring: Life’s too short for trial and error.™

The Challenge

No one wants a life that ends with regrets. Get ready to make sure yours, is full of team victory!

  1. What goals are you chasing and how far until you achieve them? Is your family aware and involved in achieving the goal with you? Don't let one person burn the midnight oil, only to reach top of the mountain; all alone and miserable. What is the family gaining and what is it losing in the process, most importantly is it all worth it?
  2. How often and how long does your family sacrifice for goals. Do you run too hard for too long? Inspire your family to focus on team needs and then reward them individually, charging up their energy for the next goal while you enjoy the well earned team rewards.
  3. Which kind of leadership is in place? Does your family use the Teddy Bear method, which if overused masks needs and tampers with progress? Or is the family lead in constant commando style, with fear and anxiety creating noise in your lives? Strike a Balance.

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