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Raise a child: The toughest thing you can ever do!!!

To explain what Fit2Thrive means, I need to start by explaining the challenge that I want Fit2Thrive to help me with. That challenge is raising my children. For now, it is about raising my son.

I’ve always felt that nurturing a human from a dependent baby to a free-thinking adult is both the best and the toughest thing you can ever do because I’ve always noticed how open-ended the task is. There is literally no limit to your responsibility and what may be asked of you.

Unlike work, for example, where there are limits because at work, contracts and law define the limits of what you can be asked to do, and there is plenty of training to help you get there. The education system itself is primarily focused on preparing you for your work life. Your private and personal life is left up to you.

Even running a company, being a CEO may sound like raising a child, but there are still limits to your liability. That can literally be because when you founded your company, you chose to limit your liability, but also because the law again limits your liability, even as CEO. I do think that such a responsible position is the closest in work that you can come to the challenges of being a parent because you literally have to live and breathe the role, but it really comes down to nature or nurture. As a parent, it’s your fault either way. Either your genes are at fault or your parenting skills. There is no middle line. Of course, it could be your partner’s fault, but as a parent, that is the only way of limiting your liability. At the same time, it means you never have complete control.

As a CEO, if things go wrong, you have all sorts of help to call on and a legal system that is very used to dealing with your problems. It’s not perfect by any means, but there is plenty of training out there. I completed a degree in management, and boy, did I learn a lot about all sorts of aspects of running a company. I still felt I had all sorts to learn before I had even founded a company.

Yet when I actually had a child, I always felt I had less knowledge of how to bring up a child than I had to raise a company. I feel I am not alone in this because everyone I talk to pretty much agrees. Some were raised in large families or have wide social groups and thus a good network to ground them in the baby basics but most mums and dads I know felt they knew so little about the most important aspect of their lives.

I’ve always wanted a family. I have really looked forward to it, and so I have prepared for it in the way most people prepare for a career. I felt that having a family was actually the point of much of my life. It’s where all the fun really starts. Not everyone thinks like that, but I do, and so far, it’s been true.

This is part of the reason I trained in Physical Education, Sports Science and Recreation Management. It’s not clear from the title, but in fact, it’s a series of lessons all based on aspects of normal human life. In practical terms, I learnt how to teach through movement, how to overcome challenges through sport and how to make fun part of life and part of business.

Of course, everyone thinks I’m a bit crazy because my dream is to run around a tennis court all day and somehow pay the bills, but in fact, that’s where humans started, as hunters and gatherers.

Tennis is basically glorified hunting, where you compete for the prize. That’s why it is a lesson for life: You must learn to overcome the challenge in front of you. Like any other species, our job is simple: to obtain what we need regardless of the pressures we face. That is what my training has been about, and that is why I think it is the best preparation for being a parent and father.

I see the truth in the parable, “Give a man a fish, and he will eat for a day; teach him to fish, and he will eat forever” I also believe that “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink”. Both of these analogies are about education, lessons and knowledge. They are why I don’t want my sons inheritance to be money, I want it to be knowledge and skills. I want to teach him how to pay for the life he wants to live, teach him how to figure out the right life for him and along the way how to accept the life he is living and own the life he is making.

I want him to be in control of his life, which for me means using life itself as a teacher. I base it on three principles

  1. Read: Read the situation. What do you already know? What can you learn? Everything you face can teach you something. What do you have that you can risk?
  2. Risk: Without risk, you learn little. too much risk and you can lose everything. Knowing the best balance is a lifelong quest. The risk you take is the cost. Do you really understand the costs of the risk you take?
  3. Recover: All risks have a cost. This is a debt. To recover, you must pay the debt. What did you learn? What could you do better next time? How will you do it? When will you recover your balance?

The guiding principle is that most real failures in life come from risking too much for too long. That means not recovering properly. Often because you either don’t know how to recover or don’t realise how important it is that you should.

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This is a critical principle with humans because, believe it or not, we are incredibly resilient.

Don’t believe me, then consider this. Our hearts beat without fail on average 60 times a minute, every minute, every day, every year of our lives. We know this because when they stop beating, we die.

Man has yet to invent something so reliable, yet all mammals, not just humans, have this amazing hardware. In fact, it is so advanced that it can heal itself. Healing is the process of recovery. The heart is so well designed by nature that it can recover, unlike anything made by humans. Of course, in order to recover, the heart needs space and help.

So, given the three principles I have outlined, my path in life is simply to teach my son

  1. how he works so that he can read what he is capable of,
  2. how to overcome life’s challenges, given his abilities and the situation,
  3. how to recover given the risks he takes. He must be able to figure out the cost of his risk, how to pay for it and when that debt has been paid.

There is a lot to learn and a lot to teach, which is why I have spread the load. Since graduating from university, I’ve spent over a decade building my knowledge of real life.

I find too many advisors who preach too soon, so I wanted to evolve my views in the hard light of day and put into practice what I preach. With over 15 years behind me, I now have the confidence to share and promote what I have found. In truth, I share now because as my son grows, I must prepare for his coming needs. I learn so much from others who have shared their experiences raising their children, and I feel it may help to share mine.

This is my journey. The great thing is that every year is getting more and more fun, particularly as I meet more and more parents to give me ideas. Thanks to everyone who has made suggestions. Here is to the future fun 🙂

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