There is nothing that can prepare you for being a dad, as the cliche goes. No book. No class. No amount of seeing your own parents or siblings do it.
So one way to look at this thing is that it shows us how little we know. The other way, the more positive way, is to see it as something that teaches us. Being a father is an opportunity to learn—to learn all the things you didn’t know how to do before, to acquire all sorts of skills you never even knew you might need.
Shane Parrish, a former intelligence operator and the founder of Farnam Street (one of the best blogs and newsletters out there), is the parent of two kids. As he explained to us, being a dad has helped him see the world again through “curious, playful eyes.” That yes, fatherhood is about teaching, but it’s primarily about learning:
“From a selfish perspective,” he said, “fatherhood is an incredible mechanism to learn skills and develop attributes through lessons I’m not sure I would have gotten anywhere else. ‘Waiting at the DMV patience’ and ‘listening to your child practice the recorder’ patience are not even in the same zip code. As a father, you get plenty of opportunities to put others’ needs before your own, care for another’s physical and emotional well-being, and practice true unconditional love.”
Being a dad is a humbling, overwhelming thing. Nothing can prepare you for it. But also, it can prepare you for life like nothing else. It begs you to learn. It gives you opportunity after opportunity to acquire and practice new abilities…if you choose to recognize them.
So that’s what you should think about today—whether you’re seizing this opportunity to learn. Whether you’re developing as you should.