Parents Do It All and Overlook the Obvious

As parents we do pretty much anything to help our kids succeed. We give them a good education, food, clothing, iPods, a home, piano lessons, dance lessons, soccer lessons—and the list keeps going. We schlep our kids to endless practices and competitions. We get them through crises- big and small. We do our best to teach them to be good people, and we hope it sticks. Most of all, we love them no matter what.

Kids are complicated! Syndicated columnist Erma Bombeck once wrote, ―When my kids become wild and unruly, I use a nice, safe playpen. When they’re finished, I climb out.‖ One of the tools I teach in The Success Principles is to start with the end in mind in all the areas of your life—to use the creative power of visualization—and I found it works for parenting too. As Albert Einstein said, "Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions."

If you created a powerful vision around your parenting, what would it look like? What kind of family life would you like to have? Are you relaxed and resourceful even when life gets demanding? Can you see yourself remaining calm when the toddler’s thrown spaghetti all over the walls, the older kids aren’t listening, and your spouse is watching TV?

It pays to visualize. Harvard University researchers found that students who visualized before they performed a task had nearly 100 percent accuracy. Students who didn’t visualize achieved only 55 percent accuracy. Almost all Olympic and professional athletes use visualization, including legendary golfer Jack Nicklaus, who once said, "I never hit a shot, not even in practice, without having a very sharp, in-focus picture of it in my head. It’s like a color movie" So we know visualization works. And what parent doesn’t need tools that work?

Another proven approach that works is to learn from others. Great role models speed up the learning curve significantly. One book that gives great models for parents is the award- winning book called If I Were Your Daddy, This Is What You’d Learn, in which thirty-five extraordinary men tell you how they raised and inspired their children. The book looks at fathering in ways no one’s talking about—an in-the-trenches view. Instead of lecturing and theories, it tells true stories and with them, the shortcuts to great parenting. I loved the idea for this book so much that I wrote its foreword!

Having access to other perspectives and approaches on parenting is priceless! Without it, we limit what we can give our kids to the beliefs and behaviors we already know—the good and the not-so-good parts of our own childhood. Instead, If I Were Your Daddy... offers an insider’s look at some great dads did, and with it, you—whether you’re a mom or dad--can make up your mind to parent the same or to do things differently.

So in your devotion to your children—in the midst of doing it all—don’t forget the most obvious... learn from others and don’t reinvent the wheel. For certain, when you have great role models, it’s a whole lot easier to visualize yourself at your very best—as the very best parent possible.