Leadership is not easy. It’s something you must practice consistently and dedicate your life too. Just like being a parent is a lifestyle choice, leading a healthy life is a lifestyle choice, or being an athlete is a lifestyle choice, choosing to be a leader is also a lifestyle choice.
If you want to lead a healthy lifestyle you need to eat well, exercise regularly, get enough sleep and build healthy relationships. You can’t go to the gym for a couple of weeks, eat a few healthy meals and think you’re going to come out the other side with your desired outcome. You may see some encouraging results in the first or second week, but you must embrace your health as a lifestyle choice that you integrate into every aspect of your life. Leading a healthy lifestyle is something you must commit to for the long-term.
I have always found similarities between parenting and leadership and applied many of my parental learnings to my role as a CEO. As new parents, we dive in, sometimes having no idea what we are doing. We are navigating new territories and are often working it out as we experience new things and new situations.
When we become parents, we don’t get a handbook titled ‘how to be a great parent’ and away we go. The same goes for leadership. There is no magic handbook…I wish there was!
Becoming a parent is one of the most wonderful things that has ever happened to me, and I’m sure for those parents reading along, I’m sure you will agree, most of the time. Being a parent is hard work, being a leader is hard work, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution.
Like most fathers, excitedly awaiting the arrival of their newborn, I purchased books and magazines, I watched tapes, and I asked questions of fathers I knew. Although all the information and advice I received was fabulous at the time, it wasn’t until I was in the role of a parent that I learnt how to become one.
I do use the word ‘learnt’ because that’s what I did. I learnt every day. I learnt what to do and what not to do. I made mistakes, I cried, I laughed, I lost my confidence and I built it back up again. My children are now in their thirties, and I’m still learning every day how to be a parent. We evolve as parents, just as we evolve as leaders.
Each year of parenthood throws different challenges and as our children grow, we too grow as parents. The challenges we have as parents when our children are toddlers are different to the challenges we have when they are teenagers, and different again when they become young adults, build relationships and get married.
The thing that has never differed for me has been my approach: it has always been to teach, guide, coach, nurture, encourage, inspire, empower, and help build their confidence. It has always been to hold them accountable, set boundaries and rules, challenge them to step out of their comfort zone, let them fall and be there to pick them back up, dust them off and encourage them to have another go.
These are the exact same guiding principles I used throughout my career as a leader and CEO.
Our role as parents and leaders is to create environments where people feel safe, cared for, and supported. Where they feel part of a team and family, and an environment where they feel empowered and inspired so they thrive and shine.
In life we never stop being students: whether that be students of parenting, philosophy, relationships, or students of leadership. We are all students of life and to reap the rewards we need to be authentic, self-aware, willing to learn and committed to putting in the work.
It all sounds great in theory right, but it’s not easy. With any lifestyle choice there will be days that are going to be tough, days where we think what I am doing and days where we just want to give up. But no matter what your lifestyle choice is, it takes commitment, practice, passion, discipline, and consistency to see great results.