Wouldn’t it be great if you felt inspired to all the time? With the heaviness many of us have experienced since March 2020, it’s something I wish I could tap into more often.
While that would be nice, I know inspiration isn’t something that can be turned on and off. But there is something you can do as a dad that can help you be inspirational to your family - regardless of the circumstances.
John Maxwell’s book Everyone Communicates Few Connect: What the most effective people do differently shares principles and practices that help people relate to others in deeper and more meaningful ways. In his final chapter, Connectors Inspire People, he talks about a simple equation to bring this to life. I’d like to offer his formula as a starting point for our roles as dads. When we apply these practices they will help us connect in more meaningful ways with the people who matter most.
John's Inspiration Equation
What they know + what they see + what they feel = Inspiration
Practically, what does this look like and how does it apply to dads? Here are four specific things you can focus on to apply the inspiration equation in your family.
1. Your family needs to know that you are on their side
This might seem obvious, and you may even feel like they already know that you are on their side. But how do you know for sure? Have you asked them if they know you are on their side? As parents or partners, the biggest trap we can fall into is thinking the other person we’re in relationship with knows exactly how we feel about them. Or, we may have never actually verbalized our feelings to them. They should just know, right?
I have been a part of several groups where struggling dads are about to lose their family, and upon reflection, they wonder how it happened. Many times its simply a result of not opening up and sharing how much they care for their family, or not showing caring behaviours on a regularly basis. In the absence of you showing and sharing it, they’ll always wonder.
Your family deserves to know how much you care for them, so leave no doubt in their minds – even if it means sounding like a broken record or annoying them with your caring actions.
2. Your family needs to know you believe in them and have high expectations of them
This means always believing the best about your partner and kids while encouraging them to achieve their full potential. My guess is most dads don’t struggle to express their high expectations. The challenge might be how you communicate them. As my young kids grew, I noticed that I expressed high expectations in the form of disappointment and frustration at their behaviour. Unfortunately, this was not effective and instead of showing I believed in them, it caused them to feel judged. How are you doing at believing the best about your family members?
John Maxwell has a simple process of putting a “10” on everyone’s head. By that, he means he sees everyone as having the potential to be a 10 on a scale of 1 to 10. Are you seeing your family members with that same lens?
The most powerful action you can do for your family is communicate your belief in them. Encourage them. Affirm them and show your unwavering support even when you might not feel like it.
3. Your family needs to see your convictions, evidence of your character, and credibility
Three big words that carry responsibility. This is where your example speaks the loudest.
Convictions are your deeply held beliefs that drive so much of your action. What are your convictions and how are you influencing your family with them?
Character is the most important one of the three, but it also drives your credibility. When I was growing up I heard character described as, “what you do when no one is watching.” Regardless of your exposure, most of us recognize and understand the character of an individual because of how they behave. Are you modelling good character to your family?
Are you modelling good character to your family?
The clarity of your convictions and stronger your character, the more likely it is you’ve developed credibility with others. The crucial ingredient that comes with credibility is the “T” word – TRUST. When you earn credibility then you gain people’s trust and they believe [in] you.
4. Your family needs to feel your unconditional acceptance, confidence in, and gratitude for them
I have a small poster in my office of this quote from Jay Danzie:
I don’t remember where or when I got it, but it has really helped me evaluate what others experience with me. If I’m honest, I think I apply this better at work than at home. And this really challenges me to think about what my trademark would be if my family were scoring me on this metric.
My goal is to leave my wife and children feeling loved, uplifted, encouraged, and appreciated. To do that I make daily efforts to give my best amount of patience, kindness, gentleness, empathy, compassion, caring, forgiveness, and understanding to the people who matter most in my life.
How can you help your family feel your unconditional acceptance, confidence in, and gratitude for them?
Yes, its true inspiration can’t be turned on and off, but it’s also true that making daily decisions to apply the inspiration equation to your life can help you connect more. When you do, you'll see the rewards of deeper, more meaningful, and fulfilling relationships with the people who matter most.
Please share or comment – I’d be honoured to hear your thoughts and feedback.