All human beings crave for affection and touch. I still remember the births of our three children with reminiscence. They were cute, adorable and above all else, vulnerable. The one common thing they had was their desire for touch from my wife and me. When they were sleepy, hungry, in pain, or just happy, all they cared was to be in our hands. We would rock them to sleep, soothe them, and tickle them senseless.
As they grew older, their need for touch changed. Now they wanted us to hold their hands as we took walks. Or sit on our laps when we read them their storybooks. I remember one time our back yard flooded after a particularly heavy downpour. That evening after work, we all donned our rubber boots and played soccer in the soggy backyard. Water was splashed as we kicked the ball around while squeals of delight bid the setting sun farewell.
Bedtime used to be a lengthy affair as a bedtime story had to be narrated every night. They would wait in anticipation and would not shut their sleepy eyes until a story was read to them. Now that they read by themselves, I have had to develop a different evening ritual. The girls opt for cuddles and kisses. The boy on the other hand wants his goodnight tackle!
Goodnight tackle? Yes! He will get into bed and patiently wait for me to come into his room. The excitement on his face is to die for! I will creep up and jump on him in a tight tackle. Both of us wrestle briefly and then I bid him goodnight. Ten minutes later, he is out for the count until the following morning.
Why am I sharing this? As a leader, it is critical to constantly evaluate the stage where your family, business or career is at [TweeMe]. This will help you identify any need to re-strategize or develop new activities that will guide your family or organization to the next level.
I was in for a mighty big surprise during the 2012 Christmas season. Every year, our children and their friends stage a Christmas play directed by our wives. Last Christmas, it was a little different in that there was a surprise for all the fathers. At the end of the play, a seat was placed on the stage. One by one, each father was called up to the throne and ‘crowned’ by his children. They then said something about what they thought of their fathers in front of everyone in the audience.
When my turn came along, I was not very sure what to expect. I knew our three kids had something wonderful for me. This fell miserably short of what they had in store for me.
At seven-years of age, Tinashe [TEE-nah-shay] our eldest is already amazing us with her level of responsibility. Her desire to serve others and her kind heart is any parent’s dream. “Daddy, I love the ‘potato-sack’ rides to my bed at night,” she said of the over-the-shoulder-teleportation to her bed every night. “Thank you daddy for taking me to Dr. Mpaata. But she pricks my ‘bum bum’. When I cry, you hold me with your big hands. Daddy, you are handsome on the inside and the outside.”
Tatenda [tah-ten-dah] is our boy and the second-born. At five-years old, he is turning into a fine young man already. “The tackles are awesome!” he started. “I don’t get nightmares, I sleep very well and no bed bugs come to bite. You said that I am responsible, you are showing me how to take care of the girls but mama can be bigheaded. Thank you daddy for coming home for lunch everyday, and sending me the post card from Cape Town. It was so cool, but Tumelo lost hers.”
Finally, our littlest Tumelo [t-oo-mel-ow] who is three-years old concluded with the following. “I love when you come home for lunch. But daddy, do not chase the puss-nyaows away [stray cats that raid our backyard]. They are so cute. Don’t forget to give me cuddles and kisses.”
Not a mention of all the toys, books, trips, and candy we had bought them all year long. All that mattered to them were the relationships we had. Everything else seemed irrelevant!
What simple steps and actions are you taking to become a [better] leader? Are you investing in assets or relationships to drive your growth?