When my daughter was born, I joked that being a father reminded me of long nights spent as a fraternity pledge at the beck and call of upperclassmen who would summon me at a moment’s notice.

Four years, an additional child and a couple of job promotions later, I find myself more often comparing fatherhood to the trials and tribulations of navigating a VUCA (volatile-uncertain- complex-ambiguous) business landscape. In celebration of all of the dads (and moms) out there, here are three things that parenthood has taught me about being a better executive:

  1. Hone your negotiating skills: When I was in law school, learning the foundation of forming arguments and building cases, I had no idea that what I was actually preparing for was life with a toddler. If having a “threenager” has taught me anything, it’s that my daughter will exploit any loophole in my argument that spaghetti and M&M’s do not constitute an acceptable breakfast. There is tremendous importance in ensuring that your position is sound and your objectives clear before entering a negotiation.
  2. Know your Why: Readers of Simon Sinek will be familiar with the principle of honing your WHY before starting on WHAT you will do or HOW you will get there. I learned that principle firsthand on a four-hour drive to Lake George, spending approximately three hours and fifty-seven minutes fielding questions about why Prince Hans was mean to Princess Elsa. No book or TED talk could make me appreciate the imperative of knowing your WHY like a toddler inspired by the magical world of Disney’s “Frozen.”
  3. We crawl before we walk: Every new parent wants to rush through the infancy stage with all its sleepless nights; then the baby becomes mobile and creates a whole new set of challenges. My son just started crawling, and now no sparkle sneaker or princess doll is safe from the child we have lovingly begun to refer to as our “weapon of mass destruction.” My wife and I remind ourselves that we will soon miss the crawling stage and should enjoy this special time before he is off walking into furniture and wondering how to fit his fork into an electrical socket. Likewise, as an executive who wants to leap tall buildings in a single bound, I’m starting to recognize that sometimes growth means appreciating milestones along the way.

What lessons have you learned as a parent and executive?

By Michael Lazar

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