Life is about contrasts, and the month of August for me is all about those contrasts. Readers of this blog will know me as a business man, an author, and a proponent of personal empowerment that I preach about in my tweets and in the pages of this blog. For much of my life I have defined myself by my career and my professional accomplishments.
But I am also a father of two 9-year old twin boys, who this month spent three weeks with me in my home, which represents the best three weeks I have had in the last several years. It has also produced one of the most interesting collisions in my adult life.
As every proud father does, I brought my kids to my office. I introduced them to my friends and colleagues, and gave them a chance to see what Daddy does for a living and where, who I work with and what we do. Aside from the pride of showing off my sons, it also gave me the opportunity to show the boys what’s possible if they set their mind to it, and what they can achieve.
During that time I had what I call a collision. One of my colleagues complimented me first on how well-behaved, and how amazing my twins are. But he also took the time to tell me how impressed he was with me as a dad, based on my interaction with the kids while they were there. Now I don’t know how good I am or not – I certainly hope I am halfway worthy of that praise. But the comment struck me because while a normal day in my life is spent driving business results and helping people grow in their careers, my friend keyed into how I really define myself, and that is as a father, and as a human being.
We often define ourselves with how we most visibly make our mark, most often by what we do for a living. For me, it’s as a Vice President, a head of operations, as a mentor and as a consultant. I have a rich pedigree to prove that. But the place I make the most impact has no title, doesn’t pay anything, but provides the richest reward any person can ask for – a legacy. Yes I want to accomplish my goals. Yes I want to achieve some measure of greatness, meaning that I would like move the world to a better place because of something I did. But more important to me is what I provide to my sons, and while I sat in my office, the place where my more visible roles exist, I was a dad. Apparently a good dad.
It’s important that we remember that the biggest impact we make is in how we affect others’ lives. It may not receive a lot of recognition, it may not pay a great deal. But it could have the biggest payoff. So as you look at your world, chasing paychecks or titles or some other reward, think back at what you truly affect. The answer might be silent, but it is often closer to home.