Several years ago when Emma and Max were small, I heard that on average, fathers spend 5 minutes per day with their kids.  This seemed impossible.

Yet this morning, after being away all last week, while Patty & the kids were having breakfast, I was answering email.

Why?

Partly just habit now… maybe it grew from a pattern of mine: When I feel overwhelmed, I retreat and make myself busy.  When there’s “too much going on” (ie, normal family chaos), I retreat to the office and get on the computer…and maybe now I’m just used to hanging out at my desk?

But I have this sense of the window closing – the time when the kids WANT to be with me is growing shorter – and I’m feeling a bit sad and anxious about this.  Those important, valuable, unpleasant feelings are leading me to wonder about the choices I’m making.

As I wrote in my Heart of Leadership book, of all the “hats” I wear, the one that feels most significant to me is “daddy.”  But at the same time I recognize that I short-change that role as I allocate the hours of my day.  I believe I am a good father, and my kids seem to be wonderful — complex — challenging — strong — amazing — people.

And I fear that they’ll grow up and say, “Our dad is a good person, it’s just too bad he was gone so much.”  I hope they’ll say, “We admire how he was always committed to making a difference and sacrificed to make the world better…”  But this is a fine line, and I’m not sure I’m able to land firmly on the latter.
I just added a line to our home page about making a positive difference — everywhere, all the time.  To me that’s the commitment and promise of EQ.  By using this intelligence, we are, every one of us is, able to add love, hope, possibility, vision, and energy (to make a positive difference) in every interaction, in each moment, in every sphere of our lives (everywhere, all the time).  And, as I think about how I’m spending my time, I wonder:  is there enough to go around?

It’s a rainy day here on the California coast.  I’m home in front of the fire listing to Jack Johnson.  And in this kind of quiet moment, I am totally confident there is — there is enough, there is abundance.  The challenge, I suspect, is to hold onto this certainty amidst all the “noise” that comes into the small moments.
My boy just came home — so I’ll get off the computer now!

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Joshua Freedman

Joshua is one of the world’s preeminent experts on developing emotional intelligence to create positive change. With warmth and authenticity, he translates leading-edge science into practical, applicable terms that improve the quality of relationships to unlock enduring success. Joshua leads the world’s largest network of emotional intelligence practitioners and researchers.
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