I never expected that being a father would have such a massive impact on my life. At times it was fun, at times it was challenging (I have 4 kids!), and most of the time is was just the most surreal experience that is hard to describe with words. However, I never expected that my kids would teach me so much about life and would actually make me into a better businessman!
Children remind us of the most profound, yet simple skills we need to implement…in fatherhood and in business. Here are a few ways in which my children helped my career:
I let go of trying to control everything
With little children at home, I knew I had to cut back on the long hours at the office and stop trying to do everything by myself. I began to give more responsibilities to other team members, give them the wheel for a change.
I learnt that I can be a good father, spend more time with my beloved children and still be an effective entrepreneur and leader. Instead of trying to be in control, I worked on creating a good team and delegating tasks appropriately. It wasn’t easy at the start, but it has done wonders for my business, not to mention my family life.
Do I even need to mention patience when it comes to babies? From running late because they’re tying their shoes, to getting them to learn a new activity can drive anyone up the wall. Over the years though, you learn to observe instead of react. You gain patience at home, and this in turn reflects in your work.
Whether you’re making a sales pitch or dealing with a confused customer, having patience can be that defining quality that either wins or breaks the deal.
Albert Einstein said, “If you can’t explain it to a six year old, you don’t understand it yourself.”
Often at work we use fancy language to make ourselves sound professional. This can at times confuse our clients and an unhappy client is not going to sign a contract with you.
When you try to explain something to a 5 year old, he will often bombard you with a dozen “why’s” and “how’s”, which forces you to think of other ways you can describe something complicated. This skill has often helped me at work when giving presentations and answering questions about certain marketing solutions.
Breaking patterns and rules
Many people like projecting how their day will go, “I will have breakfast at 9:00, leave by 9:30, work on project A until 11:20, then take a 10 min break…etc”. However, life doesn’t always go according to your schedule.
Kids don’t stick to schedules. They do what they want when they want to, depending on the present moment. You may want them to have lunch at 14:00 and go to sleep at 21:00, but they can rebel and go with what they’re feeling instead.
Having children has taught me not to be so rigid with plans. In business, of course there are deadlines and schedules appointments, but it’s no longer a big deal if something does’t quite go the way I planned. Being flexible and not expecting a particular outcome has greatly benefited my health as I am not stressed as much, and it’s also improved my connections to business partners and team members.
As some of you may know, I have recently started up my own children’s charity, called Sleijster4Children. Is it any surprise that my kids were the inspiration for that? Raising 4 of them (hence the name) has had a great impact on the way I see life around me. I want to improve the world, and I believe that this is best done through our youngest generation. I want to teach them how to play sports, become confident and successful individuals, and I want to thank my kids for motivating me to help those in need.