Leaders and Men, Watch Your Buts
An essential leadership lesson, with the potential of opening hundreds of half-closed doors. The implications of buts for leaders and men.
Recently, my wife and better half told me that it makes her sad when she can’t figure out how to make me happy (stomach drop). I was in one of my moods of determined sadness — sometimes I’m a sinker — and we were at the kitchen table trying to uncover the source. After some back and forth, we reasoned that I was stressed about doing my job well and feeling guilty about being an absent father. I did not realize that I was also on the precipice of an essential leadership lesson, with the potential of opening hundreds of half-closed doors.
Why do I feel more pressure to check my email than to spend time with my daughter before she goes to bed? How does my professional evaluation weigh more than my performance as a parent? Being a father is the most important job I will ever have. I know this. Still, routinely, I forget Goethe’s wisdom:
“Things that matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.”
What matters most? For me, it’s not a hard question:
What matters least is harder to discern. Examples:
- The speed at which I reply to emails. Timely doesn’t need to mean instantaneous but it can’t be too long and the longer I wait the more they pile up and if I want to do a good job I need to be responsive that way I can perform and provide for my family which is most important after all.
- Relaxing with a cold drink or two. But let’s remember that family and relationships are my top priorities and it’s a bonding/stress relieving thing and what’s good for the soul is good for my health even if all scientific evidence suggests otherwise.
- Television. Sure, but I’ve been working like a dog and I just need some time to turn my brain off and I love watching soccer and football and for me to be a good dad and husband everyone keeps…