I know how it starts…
When I held our daughter for the first time.
It’s 3am and nothing is going to be the same again.
I made secret promises to her, her little eyes piercing my soul. Promises I hoped I’d be able to keep.
Promises about what sort of Dad I would be..
Wanting to make my late Mum proud.
But not knowing what the hell I was doing!
Worrying that I would drop my daughter was just the first thing!
Would we have enough money? One income and lots of extra costs!
I was worried I couldn’t be a great Dad and have a great career.
Worried our relationship would take 2nd place to our children.
Worried we’d just be parents, not partners.
I’d have to grow up – no more spontaneous trips to the pub with the boys.
No more gaming, end of social life?
I muddled along as best I could.
Wanting to be there with our baby.
But then wanting to be somewhere else.
Because no-one tells you how boring life can be with a new-born. Everything arranged around nap time!
But throughout I knew one thing for sure.
I wanted to be a different type of Dad.
I wanted to share responsibilities with my wife.
We wanted an equal marriage.
And the opportunity was there.
My wife went back to work - I took on the nappies and the naps.
Without work I was worried people would see me as a less of a man.
Doing “women’s work” – not providing for my family.
I remember telling people I was a management consultant - stay at home dad was just a temporary job.
I got patronised by old ladies in the supermarket.
Ignored by the Mums who couldn’t get their heads round it.
Treated with suspicion by the Dads who were ‘real men’, out to work.
Men who thought I was out to hit on their wives.
But there were guys who got it.
Who structured their working lives around their children.
Understood the amazing opportunity we had to shape and guide our little people.
The importance of work
I did some freelance work – kept my hand in – earnt some good money.
My skills and expertise were needed.
I was needed.
And it wasn’t just to have baby food thrown at me.
I had what I wanted. Right?
But I knew it wouldn’t last forever.
I couldn’t be a management consultant anymore. Not with the travel and the hours.
Being a great Dad wasn’t temporary.
Consultancy was the temporary gig.
I was 35 and literally had no idea of what I was going to do next.
I hadn’t worked out my path.
So, did I talk about it?
What do you think?
Of course not!
I'm a guy, so naturally I didn't share my anxiety with anyone, but wrestling with these dilemmas took some of the joy out of becoming a Dad.
I couldn’t wait for my daughter to start nursery, so I didn’t have to look after her for 5 days in a row.
I was struggling to balance the conflict of wanting to be there and wanting to work.
The certainty of my previous existence had gone.
The uncertainty and the lack of clear purpose was depressing at times.
I should have felt happier. I beat myself up about it.
Blokes are supposed to have all the answers.
But the reality is, I was woefully unprepared for the challenges ahead.
It’s not a problem I could easily solve.
How to be a great dad and have a great career?
And then the worst thing happened
I learnt that a university friend had died. His son had suddenly died and overcome with grief and post-traumatic stress he had taken his own life a few days later.
It put everything into context.
Everything can change in an instant.
Having somewhere to turn is vital.
Men need to support each other and connect, tell stories, inspire each other.
And not just in the pub. In everyday life.
I set up annual hockey match in memory of Paul. To remember and to connect.
Men remembering a great man.
Raising some money to help others.
So that there would be the support when they needed it
I knew I had to live the life I truly wanted to live.
A life focused on family, work serving the life I wanted.
Work serving the life we wanted.
I didn’t want to look back and wonder if it was all worth it.
You can’t buy time with your children.
When you are working hard - you’ve got to know it’s all worth it.
What I wanted was simple to say, harder to implement.
I wanted to be a great Dad and have a great career.
Three things happened in my life that set me on a path to achieve that…
1. My wife missed the opportunity for a promotion at work.
She was no longer going to be able to earn as much as we thought she might
It forced us to look hard at our family objectives.
We needed to make it every penny count.
I needed to find a way of earning money – now I had to have a great career.
But it had to fit around our children.
2. I discovered a 2 -day coaching course
I learnt that I was creating stress and frustration for myself.
Comparing myself to a small number people on LinkedIn.
Their amazing job titles.
Their financial success.
I was measuring “success” in a very limited way.
Armed with new self-awareness and some coaching skills, I started to take action.
In only 4 weeks from that point I had earned my hockey umpiring promotion to the National League.
I invested in the Personal Performance Diploma
I started using coaching to help people achieve their goals.
My wife and I got crystal clear what we wanted as a family.
Worked out what it would cost us and made sure it was totally worth it.
3. I got the help I needed to create a business that would fit around my life
I had a qualification, but a qualification does not equal a career.
I needed find a way of converting my skills into a great career that served me and our family priorities.
Justin Devonshire’s Expert Authority Programme taught me how to build a scalable business that fitted the life I wanted.
Now I don’t have to worry about whether I can be both a great dad and have a great career.
I know I can have both.
Of course, I’m always working on it.
It’s a process not a destination.
It took me nearly 10 years to work it all out.
You don’t have to spend that long working it out.
You can start your fast track to success now.
Because I have written it all down and created a 6-step process that I call:
The 6 Steps to Working Dad Success
First step - grab your Free Work Life Balance Top Ten Tips PDF and look out for more great content including the 6 Steps to Working Dad Success.