Read time: 6 minutes
Three years ago today, everything in my world changed.
Three years ago today, the most challenging and rewarding chapter of my life began.
My son, Teague Ellis Wills, was conceived in January 2020, three months after Sonya and I got married.
One month later, we were in Mexico. I was in the middle of emceeing Anarchapulco when Sonya broke the news. We were going to have a baby!
We flew home, and two weeks later… the world shut down.
And things got weird.
In the preceding months, as Sonya's belly grew, so did the weirdness.
2020 was the year of COVID-19. The coronavirus "pandemic." Lockdowns. Masks. Social distancing. "Slowing the curve."
For me, 2020 was the year I became a dad.
18 months later, my second son, Oscar Wheeler, was born.
And what a wild ride it's been...
"Character" comes from the Greek word, “kharakter,” which means chisel, or the mark left by a chisel. A chisel strips away waste material from an object. The stuff that might get in the way, to get down to the essential thing, the thing that really matters.
Character is who you are after you’ve chiseled away all the unnecessary material.
"Character isn't something you were born with and can't change, like your fingerprints. It's something you weren't born with and must take responsibility for forming." - Jim Rohn
Fathering my boys chisels my character every day in ways I could not have predicted.
Here are 3 ways being a dad is chiseling my character and making me a better man.
The first thing I do every morning, with a pencil and paper, is write out my 10 primary goals. Number one is always the same:
"I remain calm in every situation."
Am I calm in every situation? Not yet.
More than before? You better believe it.
Having two very small children forces me to face myself and who I am every day. No flaw is safe. Every undeveloped aspect gets exposed.
Can't run, can't hide.
In a sense, babies show you where you're still a baby. The "terrible twos" show you where you're a "terrible mid-to-late-30's."
Before having kids, you can get away with blowing your top from time to time. You can explode for a moment to let off steam. You can drop a series of f-bombs and other expletives with no consequence.
They're always watching, always listening. They're everywhere.
Babies and toddlers have a unique ability. One minute they're melting your heart, the next they’re melting down and driving you out of your mind. But showing them how crazy they're making you is wrong. They have no context for literally anything yet. So every reaction you have is teaching them how to react and behave.
One afternoon, when Teague was 1 1/2, I dropped a screw down the drain. Why? Doesn't matter. All you need to know is that when the screw dropped, so did this:
Teague didn't repeat it exactly, just the plosive.
He then ran around the house shouting, "Fa! Fa! Fa!"
The consequences of reacting inappropriately outweigh the annoyingness of whatever they're doing.
And giving into outbursts weighs heavy on my mind, far beyond the moment in which they occurred.
“Calmness is the rarest quality in human life. It is the poise of a great nature, in harmony with itself and its ideals. It is the moral atmosphere of a life self-centered, self-reliant, and self-controlled. Calmness is singleness of purpose, absolute confidence, and conscious power, ready to be focused in an instant to meet any crisis.” - William George Jordan
The ability to stay calm in any given moment is no small feat. It's actually incredibly difficult. Hence, it's the first thing I remind myself of every single morning when I wake up.
I'm calmer at home now, and therefore calmer in life. I'm slower to react and more patient in my approach. Everywhere with everyone.
I've realized that:
The best gift I can give my children is a devotion to personal development.
In the last year, it has become clear that to be the best father I can be, I must commit to becoming the best version of myself.
This also applies to my marriage and extrapolates out beyond the walls of my home. To be the best coach, I must become the best me. To produce great work, I must be great. To be a leader of men, I must lead myself first.
“Freedom is not the right to live as we please, but the right to find how we ought to live in order to fulfill our potential.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson
My little guys give my life a structure I didn't know I needed.
In my early 20s, I got into the habit of escaping. I will not qualify that habit as "good" or "bad." I accomplished a lot in my 20s, and I regret nothing. BUT one big thing I lacked was discipline.
When Teague was born, I didn't want to give up anything. I wanted to go to bed late and wake up whenever I felt like it. I wanted to do what I wanted when I wanted to do it. Just like I'd always done.
I wish I could say I adapted quickly and easily to my new circumstances, but I didn't. I was stubborn. I resisted. I was whiny and pouty like a, well, like a baby.
There's that mirror again. That mirror named Teague. That unrelenting mirror that shows me where I need to improve, where I need to mature, and where I need to grow up.
Kicking and screaming, I started changing my habits and altering my routines.
And wouldn't you know it, I fell in love with the process.
Becoming a better version of myself was, and is, exciting! I'm finally unlocking WHO I really AM.
Not giving into vices is empowering.
Going to bed by 9 and waking up at 4:30 is energizing!
Every day of fatherhood, I have the choice of being selfish or selfless. It’s not always easy, and sometimes it sucks, but choosing selflessness is always more helpful to my family. And the rewards of that are greater than those of personal, immediate satisfaction.
Selfish choices provide instant gratification. Selfless choices are in service to others. Consistently choosing selflessness over selfishness is a surefire way to chisel your character.
Concern and worry are not the same.
Concern is acknowledging a problem and calmly doing what's required to solve it.
With worry also comes indecision.
I became an anxious ball of worried thoughts during Teague's first year. It got so bad that I stopped being able to fall asleep. I've told this story before, and you can read about it here.
Now, much like calmness, I practice the subtle art of not worrying every day.
To worry about anything is unhelpful and unproductive.
"I've had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened.” - Mark Twain
I've determined that the root cause of most worry is confusion. And the remedy for confusion is clarity. After Oscar arrived, I made the decision to get clear on exactly what I wanted out of life. Because I don’t want my boys to experience a worried dad. After all, I am the man responsible for leading them into manhood.
They have helped me identify what I want to achieve and when. No more vagueness, no more waffling, no more confusion, no more worry. Being a father has clarified my purpose.
Having a family has increased my boldness tenfold. There's no room for worry now, and there's no time for doubt.
It’s been an obstacle for me in the past. My newfound responsibility as a dad has made me almost impervious to it. I trust myself more, and I no longer let the fear of people’s opinions get in my way. When I hesitate out of fear, I think about my boys, and self-confidence returns.
Have I completely eradicated worry? No. But almost. It still creeps in sometimes, but I can vanquish it more quickly than before.
Supporting a family of five (yes, 5, our next son will arrive next month) makes it so that personal success is no longer an option but a requirement.
I have no choice but to succeed, so any moment spent worrying is a moment I’ll never get back.
Am I concerned about things going on in the world? Of course.
But I'm not worried.
Don’t lose faith. All is not lost.
Not if my sons or I have anything to say about it.
“This time, like all times, is a very good one if we know what to do with it.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson
Men, if you’re struggling, let’s talk.
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Click Here to book a call with me today.
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