When I was a kid, I decided I wanted to build a step stool as a gift for my mom. I used a few scrap pieces of lumber and nailed the step to the legs. But once I tried to step on it, the thing collapsed. I wanted to give my mom a gift, not send her to the hospital. So after inspecting other step stools in the house, I discovered the problem: I didn’t have any braces. I added 3 braces between the legs, which instantly changed the stool’s structural integrity. Similar to this stool, we need some braces in fatherhood.
We want to level up our abilities as men, husbands, and fathers. Almost all of us are working on areas of weakness, hoping that someday, we’ll be able to show our families that we’ve genuinely changed. But many times, we come up short. We start strong, but after a week or a month, we drift back to our old ways. The stool keeps collapsing. To live life at a higher level, we have to support the changes we want to make. Here are 3 ways to live life at a higher level.
The first brace we need is time. We tend to give up too quickly. Whether it’s impatience or lack of grit, we allow the gravitational force of status quo to pull us back into the orbit of who we were. In her book Switch On Your Brain, Dr. Caroline Leaf says it takes 21 days to develop a long-term memory and another 42 for that memory to start to have an impact on how we live.
Often, by the time we’re ready to quit, we’ve barely even done the work to get the idea of change embedded into our thinking. Let alone getting to the point where that thinking changes our actions.We become like the people we spend the most time with.
2. Supportive Environment
The second brace is the physical environment. Our surroundings are really important. It makes sense with the more tangible issues. If you want to lose weight but keep a bag of chips on the end table next to your spot on the couch, good luck. But our environment affects us with more than just weight loss. If we want to watch less TV, we’ll need to make physical changes in our environment to make it harder to watch TV.
Our physical environment is set up to support the current systems that keep us stuck. If we want to change the system, we have to change the environment. The results we’re currently getting are braced by our current environment. We need to replace that brace with new support for our new way of life.
3. Supportive Community
The third brace is the people in our lives. We become like the people we spend the most time with. To become better fathers, we need to spend more time with good fathers. If we want to stay the same, we just need to keep hanging out with the same group of guys. That guy at work you spend so much time with might be successfully climbing the corporate ladder, but is it at the expense of his family?
Are your friends helping you achieve your goals or slowing you down? How are the 5 closest people to you affecting your life? Are they making you better or bringing you down?
Sound off: What do you do to live life at a higher level?
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What do you wish were different in your life?”