Responsible parenting and leadership are a start. In between reaching for the sky (Toy Story rocks).

Screw the darkness. I prefer the lightness of Pop.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Family Vacashun Lessons: We've all had them. We all need more LAMEness.

When developing ourselves as leaders -- both as parents and captains of industry -- unfortunately there are learning moments we miss like peripheral wisps of smoke.

And then came Wednesday, January 20, 2010 at 10:47 a.m.

That's when I first wrote about awakening to a recent work failure and hopefully learning from it -- weeks of meticulous planning, promotion and preaching a new way to deliver on behalf of a client, and then poof -- technical failure and poor contingency planning that called for an immediate decision.

Kill the project or forge ahead -- a split-second decision that has to be made, for better or for worse. A semi-rational decision that's emotionally driven made from the "gut" because of the situational duress (I'm reading How We Decide by Jonah Lehrer, fascinating book).

Decision made. Consequences dealt with. But was I really listening for the ill-prepared warning signs that were there?

At this point I'm convinced I wasn't. Hubris had any insight of failure licked.

But my learning didn't end there. Oh no, my Martian family vacashun this week has proven to be a big blip on the stumble-bumble daddiness radar. For all my chatter about listening and mindful presence, this wasn't a banner week for me.

We can't learn without making mistakes -- every failure is needed to foster learning and triumphant successes.

I say needed because I'm a big believer in the fact that, without it -- failure -- as parents (and leaders in other capacities) we'd never develop the capacity to:

L - Listen and Learn
A - Adapt for Adeptness
M - Modify your Melody
E - Exercise to Elevate

You know, the LAME moments of leadership development for parents and professional folk working towards personal responsibility.

We've all had them. We all need more LAMEness.

The bigger the fail the bigger the lesson -- especially when you're paying attention.

Paying attention is so important. Like the brief Libran horoscope that popped up on the TV monitor in Subway while we waited for sandwiches:

You're viewing with a magnifying glass when you should be using a microscope.

Allowing myself to be sidetracked by work issues and social media, it took half a week of vacation to acclimate to family focus.

And then there was the great article I found on Facebook yesterday (of course) by Rachel Dretzin at PBS Parents titled Asking Questions is the Key to Parenting in the Digital Age.

Definitely a broader topic for a future GOTG post, but the sentence that stuck me upside the head (but really wasn't surprising) was:

I'm much more concerned about all of our dwindling capacity to pay attention.

Wait, what?


Thank God I have such a loving (forgiving) wife and daughter.

And for those of you keeping score at home, we had lots of fun while daddy learned to listen!

Wait, what?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Martian Family Vacashun: I blame the dope. Let it try to load the damn car.

Man, am I learning valuable daddy lessons on this Martian family vacashun.

"Hey you, lift the heavy stuff and yes, it's your fault."


Here's another one -- when you decide to share a family vacation bed with your 16-month-old, be prepared for the kickboxing bedroll boogie and the toddler-WWF head-scissor lock. Also, since Mama's pregnant, the new baby keeps us all her in a hormonal head-scissor lock.

Yes, it's my fault. I'll load the car.

Don't get me wrong -- we had a psychotically different great time visiting Mama's family in Yuma before arriving back in San Diego today for tons of animal kingdom fun, and Nonna (mother-in-law) has been an invaluable travel companion -- it's just that this daddy feels like an infant, even acting like one.

The work cord regenerates and reconnects like a James Cameron special effect and simultaneously dumbs down my already stumble-bumble daddiness.

What the hell? I'm really not this useless, especially when my hand is right in front of my face.


Front of my face. Hand. Face. Wait, what?

It's not that I'd rather be channeling Kerouac like in the old days when me and Mama traveled the world together (although it was coolsville, Daddy-O), it's just that I need to better practice what I preach -- mindful presence of family when with family.

Work is hell. Or was that war? Family is fun. Or was that the red wine in Rome? Anyway, the fact is the trenches will be there when you return -- I'm talking about work now, not family, so pay attention -- particularly when you have such a great team as I do.

Leaders develop dependable autonomous teams. Families need dependable autonomous daddies.

Don't fail to learn. Learn from failing. That's what well-regulated dopamine production is supposed to help you do.

I blame the dope. Let it try to load the damn car.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Learning to Love Life on Mars. While Skipping.

It's difficult for me to fathom dialing up or down a career over time to focus on career/life fit like in the article I recently read in the latest Workforce Management print magazine. It was all about Deloitte's Mass Career Customization program, which lets employees tailor their jobs to suit their lifestyles (the article isn't online yet).

Fascinating. Reading the article remind me that there is always room for exploration, for a new ways to work effectively and productively beyond the work/life balance cliché while embracing personal prefer. For me, it's like training to be an family-friendly astronaut while tethered to the gravity of my firm's leadership laptop and iPhone via 24/7/365 umbilical customer-biz-dev data streams.

To become a family-friendly astronaut to see if there's life on Mars -- the rare opportunity when American Mommies and Daddies take time off for a family trip and explore beyond the backyard (although all things considered including budgets, ain't nothing wrong with a stay-cation).

A family vacashun is supposed to be about shunning the everyday doldrums of home- and work-related responsibilities. It's about seeing the world again through the perceptive lens and innocence of your children, relearning things you'd forgotten for decades.

It's about seeing the world again through your own newly calibrated connection with strangers and friends, extended family visits, volunteering to help, playing for fun, learning, teaching, skipping -- there should always be skipping.

Family daddy time at home or on the road is about learning to love life on Mars.

While skipping.

Mama, cut the cord.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Family Time Love and the George Foreman Grill

Family time is important, particularly when you're strapped to the laptop as I am 23.5/6.5.

Last weekend we had a family picnic at Wilder Ranch State Park. It's such a great place to take kids to because of it's history and the farm animals.

And Bea loves the farm animals.

And getting stuck in the fun bubble bucket.

That's what I mean -- fun family time at the expense of your children! No worries. It's okay until they can talk back.

Today was family brunch day, and now that we've got the universe of Bryce coming, Mama's had a really rough time with cooking.

Cooking anything of the animal variety. In the kitchen. In the house. Anywhere inside (because don't you fry pork rinds in the bedroom like we do?). The smells just kill her.

So, because her nausea has been much worse this time round, I've been cooking meat outside on the George Foreman grill.

Really. The George Foreman grill. Outside.

Like today for brunch. Cooking bacon outside on the porch. In a storm. How exciting is that?

Family time love and the George Foreman grill. Right on.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The vibrant moment of light traveling from a universe birthed in the belly of Mama

The rush of heater air through the house vents. The static white noise from the baby monitor. Random swoosh of cars and trucks passing on Highway 1. The creeking joints of the old cat shuffling past my chair.

It's the comforting stillness of pre-dawn family that links the frantically busy days for me, giving them tinker-toy structure where there otherwise would be none. Allowing me to feel my think after too many mind-numbing synaptical transactions.

The physics of this is even simpler yet more ambiguous than it seems, the fact time is relative from moment to moment, seeping beyond and within the linear construct we give it. So much life in so little space like tidal pools we miss under the rush of seas.

These moments are vibrant, like light traveling from a universe birthed millions of years ago -- and they are cruel, like earthquakes killing tens of thousands of impoverished people (find out how to help here).

And they are loving moments of mindful presence, fossils of the heart -- like the moment we met, the world we've seen, and the Bea we conceived.

We took two pregnancy test before this last Christmas: the first was negative, the second positive. We left the second one out like we did the first time with Beatrice, just to ensure that it wasn't an illusion.

But definitely no illusion with the intense punctuated moments of nausea over the holidays and the past couple of weeks, and that was just me (rim shot, please).

Then the pièce de résistance -- the first prenatal visit and sonogram on Thursday -- the vibrant moment of light traveling from a universe birthed in the belly of Mama.

A new universe call Bryce, arriving on earth August 2010.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

When teaching life lessons to toddlers, don't forget the water.

I'm not a Bostonian, but saying I had a "wicked busy week" sounds so much cooler than "super busy" or "really busy" or even "crazy busy".

Just a plain jane Central Californian who lives in "wicked crazy" Santa Cruz with his lovely wife and baby Bea.

That's why it was more than a pleasure yesterday afternoon to push Beatrice down to Natural Bridges to see the Monarch butterflies, something we've done a handful of times in the past few weeks.

It's a great little walk (for Daddy - Bea's still in the stroller most of it) and there are always life lessons to teach along the way.

Like walking past the Global College of Natural Medicine where staffers take smoke breaks outside.

"Beatrice, that's the nastiest and most dangerous monkey you can ever invite to ride on your back."

Of course, all she heard and most likely understood was Beatrice -- blah, blah, monkey, blah-blah-blah, ride, blah. However, she is a smart little bug who knows how to sign and is learning more words every day.

So I continued.

"One of Nana and Papa's close friends passed away this morning, Bea. She had an operation last night to repair severely damaged arteries but she didn't make it. She was a long-time smoker and her lungs and heart were in pretty bad shape. Smoking can make you very, very sick."

Nana, Papa, blah, blah, morning, blah, night, blah-blah.

Birds chirped. The sun bathed us in mellow warmth. Bea kicked her legs in the stroller.

"Papa smoked for a long time too. He had an abscess on his lung that had to be removed in 2002 and he was very, very sick for months and almost went to heaven. But as you saw this last Christmas, he's feeling pretty good."

Papa, blah-blah-blah, Christmas, blah, well.

"And your daddy, well he smoked for a long time too, but I hope to be around for a lot longer now, Bea. I'm feeling pretty good. That's why I take you running sometimes and we go for these walks."

Daddy, blah-blah-blah, Bea, feeling pretty good, blah, running, blah, walks.

After we got to Natural Bridges I let Bea walk and run around a little. It was such a nice day for this early in January (which is always mild anyway). I had planned for us to stay a little while, to see how many butterflies we could spy, but when she gave me the sign for drink I realized I had forgotten the water.

"I'm sorry sweetie. I forgot it. Can you wait?"

The drink sign sped up frantically and escalated into a crying jag.

Daddy, I promise I won't smoke, but don't you ever forget the water again, or I'll get wicked crazy on your butt.

Get me home, Jack. I'm thirsty.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Nothing changes, not even when there are life-changing smiles.

On New Year's Day she stood in front of me smiling, a smile now filled with two more teeth than she had a month ago. The two upper front teeth, still white stumps pushing outward with a slight gap between the two, have begun to fill out what will be a life-changing smile.

What already is a life-changing smile as far as me and Mama are concerned.

But then I freak a little and think, What the hell?

It's my daughter and I'm her daddy. My daughter who will continue to fall and bang her head and skin her knees. My daughter who may someday play soccer or the saxophone (damn that daydream time traveling again). My daughter who may someday make the honor roll year after year, her walls filled up with certificates and ribbons. My daughter who will someday fall in love over and over while I stand by to help Mama pick up the pieces and to berate those who break her heart.

My daughter who may someday make a wrong turn, maybe abuse alcohol and drugs, and maybe get involved in abusive relationships.

And we will love her and help her help herself be better and get it together again. Maybe she'll join Narcotics Anonymous and get a job at 7-11, turning her life around one day at a time, filling the lives of her customers with life-changing smiles.

Like Nicole in Santa Cruz, whose life ended on New Year's Day when an ex-boyfriend showed up during her early morning shift at 7-11 and shot her and then turned the gun on himself -- what the police are calling "a deadly case of domestic violence," the first homicide of the new year.

Nothing changes, not even when there are life-changing smiles.

I don't know anything more about Nicole's life other than what was revealed in the newspaper article, which wasn't much.

The killer's uncontrolled cowardice is telling enough, though. The wrath of insecurity and self-loathing rips holes in the hearts of too many, holes that can only be filled with dominance, abuse and violence.

I believe we can help others help themselves to be better if we intervene early enough. My daughter may someday be a social worker or volunteer at a domestic violence shelter or be a counselor for at-risk children and teens. Or maybe she'll work for an organization like the Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence.

Twenty-four percent of workplace violence is related to domestic violence according to Bureau of Labor Statistics survey data. That's one-quarter of violent incidents at work. I'm moderating a workplace violence panel discussion on Wednesday, January 20, 2010, from 11-12 PST, sponsored by EmployeeScreenIQ. I encourage you and your employer to attend.

And Beatrice, keep the life-changing smiles coming. We'll all keep working on the rest of it for Nicole and countless others.