All day at work you experience stress. You witness other people’s stupidity. You are the victim of their moods and emotions. Your phone pings constantly with alarming news of the world, or notifications that trigger the pangs and envies which drive the social media engine. Your people are counting on you. Your organization’s future rides on you and the decisions you make.
But what do any of those things have to do with your kids, with being a good dad? Nothing. In much the way politics are supposed to stop at the water’s edge, so must the stresses of work and of the world stop at the front door of your home. You can’t bring any of that crap home with you.
During one of the Daily Stoic Leadership Deep Dives, the leadership coach Randall Stutman, who has worked with nearly every major hedge fund and CEO on Wall Street, talked about what it means to be a leader at home:
Your job as a leader is to make really fast transitions. You play many different roles in many different places—your job is not to carry the last conversation…if that means you need to settle yourself and sit out in your car for a couple of minutes before you walk in the house so you can now be Dad, then that’s what you need to do. But your job is not to walk into that house and carry with you anything that came from before.
As we’ve said before, you can’t let a bad day or a bad person prevent you from being a good parent. You can’t bring your garbage from the office into your home. Your kids deserve a safe and happy home. They deserve a father who keeps the house free of your stress and problems and worries. Your boss’s temper or your competition’s malice can’t be allowed to stick to you. The contagion of anxiety or panic shouldn’t be tracked into the living room like so much grime on the bottom of your shoes.
You must keep a clean house—free of the detritus of adult responsibility that your kids couldn’t possibly understand. You must leave that stuff outside.
When you arrive home, be ready to be present. Ready to have fun. Ready to be the dad they want…not the dad that’s left over after the ravages of the day. That is your job as the leader of the home.
A job that requires you to make really fast transitions.
P.S. If you want to become a better leader, The Daily Stoic Leadership Challenge is now available as a self-paced course. It’s 9 weeks of custom emails delivered daily. That’s 63 total emails (over 30,000 words of exclusive content) and includes 4 recorded Leadership Q&A’s with Ryan Holiday and 8 Leadership Deep Dives between Ryan and some of today’s greatest leaders. Click here to learn more about the course and the 8 prominent guests.