What does success look like? It can take many forms in many industries. It can be financial or it can be prestigious. It can be high profile or it can be quiet and boring. All of us, before we were fathers, chased success in our own way. Some of us wanted it more than others. Some of us got it. Some of us didn’t.
But then we had kids. And what did that change? Well, it certainly took up more of our time and energy. It made financial security more important. It made us grow up. But mostly what it did is it utterly and irrevocably changed what our definition of success is. As Theodore Roosevelt explained:
“There are many kinds of success in life worth having. It is exceedingly interesting and attractive to be a successful business man, or railway man, or farmer, or a successful lawyer or doctor; or a writer, or a President, or a ranchman, or the colonel of a fighting regiment, or to kill grizzly bears and lions. But for unflagging interest and enjoyment, a household of children, if things go reasonably well, certainly makes all other forms of success and achievement lose their importance by comparison.”
We still want to be good at our jobs, of course. We want to win championships or land big clients. We want recognition and we want the thrill of the chase. But we know now—because we’ve felt it—how small these things seem compared to a quiet evening at home. A Sunday in the park. Breakfast full of laughter. Watching them on a stage or running from the sidewalk to your car or your arms.
This is the only success that matters now. Everything else is extra.