As men, personal development can sometimes feel daunting – hell – even frightening. The idea that we’re not showing up as the best we can for our families can take a massive toll on our egos. Here are 9 of our most tried-and-true concepts to help you level up your game, level up your family, and become both the man your family deserves and the one you want to be. So without further ado, here are our Top 9 skills to be a GREAT family man.
You are your family’s most important role model, especially if you have children. Children are like sponges and absorb everything placed in front of them, including your actions or lack thereof. Modeling will undoubtedly set the tone for your family’s habits in the long term. Everything from how you talk to yourself, your self care, how you interact with your wife, and everything else in between is in play. To gain a little bit of clarity around modeling, try answering these questions:
- Looking back over the last 7 days, is there a situation you were confronted with that you believe you could’ve handled better with regards to your children or wife?
- Looking back over the last 7 days, is there a situation you were confronted with that you believe you handled really well with regards to your children or wife?
- Reflect on both of the previous two questions and write out how those actions could have a negative/positive impact on your family.
#2: Physical Training
Physical training takes on a few different shapes in regards to being a great family man. A physically capable man is a more resilient man, and a more resilient man is better capable at handling the stresses of life, which is a trait necessary for a strong leader of a family, i.e. you. Physical training, especially combatives training, helps create structure in your life, and security in your family. Knowing that you can protect your family if needed creates stability and feelings of safety both at home and out in the world. Lastly, in the game of life, the tortoise not the hare wins. Staying consistent with a physical training practice will keep you healthier and help you play the game of life longer.
#3: Brain Dumps
Learning to brain dump into a journal will give you clarity and a space to offload emotionally. Many times, our family can be on the receiving end of the day’s challenges, creating unnecessary tension and drama. Learning the how and when of how to effectively brain dump can put you in a better mental and physical position in literally minutes. Despite what society says, you don’t have to hold that pent up aggression and fear inside. Get it out of your system so you can start thinking logically, and show up for your family in an emotionally balanced state.
#4: Improve Your Breathing
A breathing practice, if you don’t have one already, is one of the biggest natural game-changers you could add to your life today. Learning how to control your breathing is like having sex for the first time. When you don’t know what you’re doing, you’re stressed out and you burn out faster than you and your partner would probably like. On the other hand, when you understand that when you go slower, you have more control and are more aware, it’s usually a much more pleasant experience overall. Breathing is no different. When your breathing is out of control, you’re stressing your body; you’re in flight, flight, or freeze mode, and it can be very challenging to think effectively. When you learn how to breathe “low and slow” – breathing in and out of your nose, from your belly – you’ll have a much higher stress tolerance, can stay relaxed, and improve your cognitive function – all super helpful things when the kids are screaming or you’re in an argument with your wife.
#5: Role shifting throughout the day
When you come home from work, the last thing your family wants is dad in “boss/work” mode. If you think about your day as chapters of a book, you’ll see that your role and how you’re showing up in each chapter needs to shift. In business, it’s all about getting shit done, winning the day and bringing home the bacon so the family can eat. When that doesn’t happen, and you’re about to walk in your front door, don’t carry it with you. Take a step back, leave that energy in your car, and role shift. Your children don’t care that the deal didn’t go to plan, or that Jimmy the sales guy quit. Dwelling on the earlier portion of the day will prevent you from being present and being your best self in that chapter of the day.
#6 & #7: Don’t Leave Without Stability & Effective Communication
Arguments are going to happen; they’re inevitable. If you act like a boy, you’re going to get boy results. If you show up as a man, things can go a lot smoother and get resolved much faster. When conflict does happen, make sure to always connect with your breath (see #4). Then, focus on your words and communication. In the heat of an argument is not the time to learn effective communication skills, so brush up on these guidelines from one of our favorite books, Non-Violent Communication prior to that next blow out.
Part two of this is don’t leave without stability. Many times, it’s easier to just leave, to slam the door, and leave the fight lingering for hours or even days. Talk about throwing fuel on an already raging fire. Instead of just walking out, state your intentions. You could say something like this: “I understand we’re not happy right now, I would like to go for a walk, allow things to calm down, regain my thoughts and I will be back in 20 minutes.” Doing this, instead of just leaving, shows that you’re not just walking out, or as some women would see this as abandoning them or leaving for good. Creating stability, even in the midst of a fight, will show that you still care but need to take time to reflect.
#8: Duties & Responsibilities
When was the last time you had really defined duties and responsibilities? For most it was probably at your job and not even in reference to your family. Outlining your family duties and responsibilities helps you show up day in and day out. If there are certain things that you know you want to do everyday, week, month, i.e. read to your children every night, it needs to be on your Duties, Responsibilities, and Commitments list (DRC). Your day is not complete until your DRCs are done. Think of your DRCs like an accountability framework that ensures you’re prioritizing the things you and your family deem to be important in order to maintain a strong family dynamic and ensure everyone’s needs are being met.
#9: Celebrations and Gratitude
This is one of my favorites and one that over time I believe your family will learn to really look forward to. How often do you celebrate the wins and successes within your family? Talking about them, putting them on a whiteboard or in a journal, or any other way you want to celebrate is cool with me, as long as you’re celebrating. What better way to get the family involved, pumped up, and excited than talking about what you’re grateful for, the wins for the day, what you’re looking forward to tomorrow, etc.? In a world full of victims, your family will rise above and learn how to find the good in every situation. What’s better than knowing that no matter what happens, your family is ready to take on the world because their cup is always ½ full, and they don’t live as victims.