Pregnant with a Promise

Nobody likes stretch marks. Whether you’re a body builder or an expectant mother, they’re unattractive and just plain frustrating. But they’re actually a really good sign. They mean something is growing. Growth often includes pain, change, and waiting. Have you grown lately?

Nobody likes stretch marks. Whether you’re a body builder or an expectant mother, they’re unattractive and just plain frustrating. But they’re actually a really good sign. They mean something is growing. Growth often includes pain, change, and waiting. Have you grown lately?

Even as I write these words, I hear the playful laughter of my sons punctuated by periods of sibling rivalry. Many times, I’m forced to close my office door in order to concentrate on my work but, tonight, I’ve left it open to monitor and enjoy the sounds of my family.

My wife is reading a book and the boys are roughhousing while aggravating our somewhat neurotic dog. There is no sweeter sound on earth to me, no greater vision of beauty and blessing than walking into our home and seeing my world’s smiling faces.

I was completely unprepared when my first son arrived screaming beneath the bright lights of the delivery room. Who is? I’d like to say I was better equipped for my second, but, in reality, I’m still learning. There are days my little bundles of joy truly take Daddy to school.

I’m perpetually awed at the ways they embody their parents’ traits. For example, like me, Alex is detail-oriented and introspective whereas Aiden is inquisitive and passionate. Alex has my wife’s heart for helping and Aiden has her fury. Granted, some of this is environmental learning, but there’s no denying the role genetics plays.

Quite frequently, my bride snickers amusedly when pointing out something one of the kids did that was just like me, and I do the same to her. I’ve found this same principle to be true in my practice. If you want to understand the parent, look at the child, for they are a direct reflection.

This is accurate in business as well. If you’re a professional carving out your niche, your career will mirror your personality and preferences through the choices you make. Own a business or serve as one’s executive administrator? Know that everything from its structure, processes, and style to the very culture resonating among its staff flows directly from your leadership and example.   

There’s a grave lesson in this. As with your offspring, be careful how you walk, because those under your guidance will follow your footsteps. Prone to make impulsive decisions? Your leadership team will be also. Quick-tempered and condescending? Your verbal attacks will cascade down the chain. Take actions without consulting others or communicating your intentions? This will be the standard set for your organization.

Simply put, if you don’t like what you are seeing in your children or your corporate operations, take a long, hard look at yourself. After all, you have the lead and you’re the one teaching whether intentionally or by example.

I’d like to say I’m a shining beacon for all things “positive parenting” but I’m not. I make mistakes, with my sons and with my company, but this one thing I’m always careful to do: recognize my weaknesses and strive to overcome them.

Fortunately, my wife is outstanding at pointing out errors in judgment or poor execution. She’s also stellar at supporting and encouraging me, at praising when I do well. There’s a reason, biologically, there are two parents. They need each other.

So, back to your career or business. Do you have someone on your team and in your corner that will call you on your crap and also applaud your victories? If not, you better find one right now. Unity in parenting or entrepreneurship halves the sorrows and doubles the joy.

Should you find yourself lacking this backing then take a moment to evaluate if you’ve given those capable of being your mirror permission to do so. Pride cometh before a fall. And you will need trusted staff that can pick you up when you trip and warn you of the pit before you reach it. Take a “business wife or husband.” You’ll be glad you did.  

Something else I noticed during this fatherhood wilderness adventure is the constant presence of pain. Containing toys within their designated chest or even the proper bedroom is a never-ending struggle. There’s really no agony quite like shuffling across the living room floor in the dark and impaling your foot on a Lego block. It’s an exquisite way to ensure full alertness after rising from your sleep to attend to the cries of your child at night.

And then there’s the gut-wrenching pain of watching your baby lie ill, wishing you had the power to take their sickness upon yourself. Alas, even though you can’t, cleaning up explosive vomit volcanoes all day will likely lead to your own infection anyways. Or the pain of seeing their heart broken by failure or rejection, compounded by your inability to shield them from the harshness of this life.  

Professionals walk a similar path. There are times when you stare helpless as your client flounders and self-destructs. You feel the disappointment and frustration of having to terminate an ineffective or toxic staff member. The reality hits home that budget shortfalls will translate into loss of benefits, bonuses, and potential layoffs.

But while pain is real in fatherhood, so is joy. These are the moments that overshadow every fatiguing difficulty experienced, reducing them to nothingness in the light of embracing your child. I remember beaming with pride when Alex first learned to escape his playpen, unaware that his climbing had only begun. I recall Aiden’s first word and the bliss of watching his first steps.

From good report cards to bulls-eyes in archery, a father feels his sons and shares their transformation. But real men give credit where it is due. These things were possible because their mother constantly labored alongside me to give them the best future possible. So it is with business.

Insightful professionals are aware they have only attained the success they enjoy because others came alongside them and assisted: teaching, mentoring, and disciplining along the way. Entrepreneurs and CEOs alike glow with satisfaction when they see their companies expand and their staff perform harmoniously. These little moments make every growing-pain completely worth it.   

I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that, like fatherhood, maintaining a professional career or operating a business brings not only rewards but also responsibilities. Good fathers provide when there are needs. Good fathers protect when there is danger. Good fathers assist when there is struggle. Good fathers discipline when there is error. Good fathers praise when there is achievement.

I trust you get the point as this relates to businesses. If you’re going to be a father, be a good one. Don’t be that guy that demands results from his subordinates but doesn’t equip them with necessary resources, exposes them to peril, ignores their difficulties, excessively criticizes failure, rarely applauds success, and fails to correct negative behavior.

While we’re on the subject, discipline is not simply punishment. The root word of discipline is “disciple,” which means, “to teach.” But we’ll leave that as a topic for another day.

Therefore, I’ll end this post with how parenthood begins: pregnancy. Launching a career, starting a business, or taking a company to the next level all start with a dream, a promise of things that could be. Although unhealthy examples abound, most babies are conceived in love or passion, often both. This is also the way most professions, companies, and ventures begin.

Being a man, I’m ill-equipped to outline all the nuances of this miraculous live-giving event. But fathers that are present during it know that carrying a growing baby is difficult. Expansion is painful. Heaving around the extra weight is awkward, unbalancing, and uncomfortable. Strange cravings arise. Emotions vacillate like a sugar-high parakeet on a swing. Clothes that used to fit well no longer do at all. And, right before the end, everything is miserable and you long for it to just be over.

Ladies, I trust you recognize the parallels here between being with child and carrying an entrepreneurial vision. Gentlemen, this is your chance to understand a woman’s perspective of the process. I frequently see people give up and abort their dream right before the moment of birth because of the struggle it requires.

Perhaps you’ve been pregnant with your promise for some time now and it’s beginning to wear on you. The scale keeps announcing higher numbers and your ankles are swollen beyond recognition. You’re nurturing something inside you that kicks and nauseates and demands every ounce of your money, energy, and time. Exhausted, you consider being free of it.

Never take this route. We are fools if we mistake the labor involved and the time required as signs it’s not meant to be or will never occur. The larger your dream, the more intense your labor and the greater your wait. Small things happen fast but are often worth little.

The gestation period of a mouse is roughly 20 days. A housefly is conceived and “birthed” in only 24-hours. If unable to exercise patience and endure, then all you’ll ever have is an abundant litter of rats and insects. But humans average 40 weeks to arrival.

Being larger, we require more intense resources and greater time to grow into fruition. Consider elephants. These massive creatures have a gestation period of 95 weeks, more than twice that of humans. Momma killer whales carry their enormous offspring for 17 MONTHS!

So don’t lose heart whether this is your first child, your first venture, or your twelfth. The greater the struggle and the longer it takes means you are cultivating something truly magnificent. Don’t allow fear to force your settling for less than everything you can imagine, and then some. Forego small and weak for large and breathtaking.

Be a good father or mother to the business associates in your care and they’ll carry in the groceries for you when you’re old and frail. Put some ice on your ankles and take one more step. Being pregnant with a promise inevitably culminates in a joyful birth.

Until next time, don’t just be transformed: be Kinged.

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