Some dads deal with a lot of opposition in their lives. But it’s how they respond to that opposition that will dictate how they go down in their family’s history books. Our ability to learn, to grow, and to adapt is what separates our success from our failure in our pursuit to become great dads.
We are surrounded by people that we can learn from. I’ve made it my life’s ambition to become a “greatest hits” of all the good I see in others. I’ve learned that the key to self-mastery in this life is to observe others closely and to learn from them. Take the bad that you observe in them and discard it. Take the good that you observe in them and apply it. Over time, having applied all the good that you’ve observed in great people, you’ll become a walking “greatest hits” of good principles and behaviors. This concept of adapting, learning, and growing is what enables a dad to help his own children become the best they can be.
Displayed on our living room wall is a quote from President Gordon B. Hinckley that simple reads, “Try a little harder to be a little better.” If we do that and block out worldly influences, we will indeed become better. Around AD 321, a man named Ammaron made an observation about the young boy, Mormon, who eventually ended up compiling and abridging the various sets of scriptures that had been passed down from dad to son throughout the years on the American continent. Ammaron told Mormon that he believed him to be a “sober child” and that he was “quick to observe” (Mormon 1:2).
I believe there is one attribute above all others that will help dads effectively reach the hearts of the children they have stewardship over. That attribute is emotional intelligence. When someone is emotionally intelligent, it means that they are quick to observe. The great Hall of Fame baseball player Yogi Berra said, “You can observe a lot by just watching.” Great dads pay attention and watch closely. They don’t allow themselves to be oblivious. Instead, they can read a room and know exactly what to bring to the table and how to bring it. They are simultaneously empathetic and sympathetic. They are strong and stalwart in keeping to their standards, yet are able to adapt to situations, providing an atmosphere in which the best possible outcome can be reached. You will need this attribute as your kids grow and get older, and as you are required to understand their various personalities. Just being the “stubborn old you” will not enable you to get inside their heads and help them make crucial life-changing decisions.
When someone is emotionally intelligent, they are truly able to “mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort” (Mosiah 18:8-10). Christ, in my mind, was the most emotionally intelligent being to walk the earth. He was able to “succor his people” according to their needs because He was so quick to observe (Alma 7:12). He placed himself in the positions of others and truly walked in their shoes. I believe that this attribute, coupled with the principle of love, was what enabled Him to carry on for us in that lonely garden those many years ago.
We can seek to acquire the gift of emotional intelligence. We can learn to be quick to observe, and it will benefit every aspect of our lives in every situation. Being quick to observe will enable us to more effectively teach our family throughout the years.
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This is an excerpt from Dads Who Stay and Fight: How to Be a Hero for Your Family.
Viral blogger Greg Trimble has reached millions through his blog by writing about topics he’s passionate about. But when it’s all said and done, he feels most passionate about being a dad. In his debut book, Dads Who Stay and Fight: How to Be a Hero for Your Family, Greg approaches fatherhood in a way that is fun and easy to understand. By drawing upon the wisdom of some of the world’s greatest dads, Greg is able to help future dads, new dads, and even seasoned dads leave a legacy, be remembered, and be a hero to their family.