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What have you learned today about being a dad?

“I’m more capable then he is to raise our son.”

When I heard this statement, it shot through me like a bolt of lightning. My lawyer leaned over to me and asked…”What type of education does she have?”

“She has a bachelor’s degree,” I replied while still feeling like I wanted to explode.

It was a shot at my ability to raise my son!

At this point in my life I also had a bachelor’s degree and on top of it had been raising our son on my own as his mom traveled.

Though there was no truth in the statement thrown at me, a few questions popped up in my head?

What other knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSA) will I need as a father?

What else do I need to learn?

What type of dad do I want to be?

Now, if you’re looking for a laundry list of KSAs you will need as a dad in this blog, you won’t find them here.

That is because what I discovered on that day and every day since is that our development as a dad is never-ending. We need to continuously learn! We need to seek out knowledge where we don’t have any. We need to learn new skills where we might be lacking. We need to increase our abilities to take on those challenges that come with raising kids.

Everdad Hack #4 - Continuous Learning

As dads, we need to seek out knowledge where we don’t have any. We need to learn new skills where we might be lacking. We need to increase our abilities to take on those challenges that come with raising kids.

As Brendon Burchard states, “the more competence you have, the more confidence you feel in trying new things and taking on bigger challenges; the more you do that, the more mastery you develop and the more competent you feel” (2012, p. 59).

A critical factor in being the dad you want to be is about your competency level. Your “ability to understand, successfully perform in, and master [y]our world” (Burchard, p. 60). And the way to increase your competency level is to continuously learn.

The tricky part is when we go from having a high level of self-confidence to a low level of self-doubt.

When we start to self-doubt our ability or competency level, we begin to feel inadequate, anxious, angry, disappointed, hopeless, helpless, and then our fear takes over and becomes our reality. Leading us to stop learning, growing, and developing ourselves as a dad.

And as dads, we have some self-doubt when it comes to being a dad. Which directly impacts our ability to learn and move forward.

Unfortunately, many of us stop learning the day we graduate from whatever level of education we complete in our life. Continuous learning is a lifelong journey, a journey that can take you down multiple paths, stretch you, and change you into the dad you want to be. Albert Einstein stated, “Once you stop learning, you start dying.”

Though this may be a bit extreme, there is something to his statement. When we stop learning we stop our growth as an individual, our well-being is impacted, and the level of success we want to experience is limited.

Want to be a lifelong learner? Want to increase your dad KSAs? Want to become the dad your children will cherish?

Then here are five blind spots to be aware of as you become a lifelong learner as a dad.

  1. Believing learning stops after you receive your diploma. Learning doesn’t stop after you leave the classroom. If anything that is when your real education starts because life is hard and continually changing. By continuously learning you can adapt to whatever life throws at you.
  2. Thinking you know everything or have all the answers. Nobody likes being wrong so we will fight to the death to support our case on being right. The reason for this is because we become addicted to being right (Glaser, 2013). Our brain releases adrenaline and dopamine when we argue and win which makes us feel good (Glaser, 2013). So, the next time we get into a situation where we need to provide an answer we fight for being right, whether we are right or not, so we can get that release of adrenaline and dopamine to make us feel good. When we do this, we stop listening to others which impacts our ability to gain new knowledge, skills, and abilities.
  3. Not being curious. Remember when you were a kid and would explorer your neighborhood or took apart your bike? You did it out of curiosity. You were curious about what else is out there or how your bike worked and if you could put it back together again. At some point in our life, we stop being curious. We start to believe we have experienced everything, know everything, or we have been told “no” enough times that we just don’t bother anymore. Being curious is a gateway to unlocking new knowledge, skills, and abilities. Want to learn how to be a better dad? Want to know what your kid likes? Explore. Take things apart. Create. Get curious!
  4. Not asking questions. Like curiosity, at some point in our life, we stop asking questions. For some of us, it is out of fear. Fear of asking a dumb question, looking like a fool, showing you may not be smart enough, or believe you will just be told “no.” As men, we are taught to always be strong, don’t show any weakness. It is this myth that holds us back from asking questions because we believe it is a form of weakness. Asking questions is a form of learning! It always amazes me when it comes time for an assessment to wrap up a class, it is those who were engaged and asked questions which do the best on the assessment. And it is those same individuals who go on to be successful because they understand asking a question helps them move forward in their development.
  5. Having a fixed mindset. In her book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Carol Dweck talks about two types of mindsets. The first mindset, Fixed Mindset, is one that dads can fall into when they believe that nothing they do can change their circumstances, skills, or abilities. The second mindset, Growth Mindset, is one where dads believe they can change their circumstances, skills, or abilities through their actions. Having a Fixed Mindset keeps us from taking action and moving forward in our lives. This type of mindset is typically developed over time from listening to other people who don’t have our best interest, negative self-talk, or what we believe to be a failure. By having a Growth Mindset, we can move from failure to what did I learn, and we can recognize that our efforts do have an impact on our success. What kind of impact can a Growth Mindset have for you as a dad? What kind of impact do you think it would have on your children?

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Donnie Boroff, M.A., CPC, ELI-MP, C-IQ is a father of four boys and husband with a passion for dads. A Dad Coach and founder of Everdad. With a Master’s Degree in Industrial Organizational Psychology along with being a Certified Professional Coach, Energy Leadership Index Master Practitioner, and Certified in Conversational Intelligence, he assists dads in exploring and discovering how they are showing up in their children’s lives.

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