I remember when my first son, Rocco, was born back in 2011. Life-changing doesn’t do it justice.

My wife and I tried for many years to have a baby and went through the heartbreak of multiple miscarriages.

Nobody ever prepares you for that.

Fast-forward a few years and, thankfully, my wife and I now have two sons.

Nobody ever prepares you for the realities of parenthood, either.

When you’re expecting a child, you get a few comments from people who’ve already had children like, ‘you’re having a baby, great, good luck with the sleep!’, and, ‘oh, great, congratulations … it’s a lot of work you know … but well done …’.

Looking back I always wondered why they had a certain look on their face akin to, ‘you have no idea what’s around the corner buddy … no idea at all.’

I remember starting my first ‘official’ business in 2005. My former business partner and I worked at the same company and had tried several times to present various ideas to ‘the board’ about how we could expand and grow the business with creative ideas. They fell on deaf ears. We couldn’t get backing due to ‘other priorities’.

So we decided to put our houses on the line with the bank and do it ourselves.

Nobody prepares you for the realities of running a business.

There are a few comments from entrepreneurs like, ‘good luck, it’s hard work, but well done …’, and, ‘a business … great! Staff are a nightmare, but congratulations …’.

Looking back I always wondered why they had a certain look on their face akin to, ‘you have no idea what’s around the corner buddy … no idea at all.’

Parenthood and business have numerous cross overs.

Being a Dad I now see it more than ever.

The ‘fantasies’ of what life will be like when you finally have a baby, or finally start a business, can be just that — fantasies.

Fantasies often turn into nightmares.

Why? Because of the expectations we put on what life will be like when a healthy baby arrives … or startup business is born …

When baby comes along, we expect it will be all laughter, love, fun, and a feeling of wholeness inside. There are moments like that … but there are also several challenges … like lack of sleep, for one …

We expect that running a business will be a breeze and that, when we exit for millions of pounds, we can finally feel happy. There are moments of joy … but there are also several challenges … like making the transition from having a job to being responsible for paying several salaries each month …

The realities of both parenthood and business are very different from the stories we tell ourselves about how life will be when both come along.

This can cause resentment, low moods, and a feeling of not being in control.

In some cases leading to postnatal, or post-startup, depression.

A lot of people project their low moods onto, and into, the children and the people in the business.

Blaming the child, or the staff, for being the reason all their problems exist.

You hear comments like:

‘They’re a nightmare, they never sleep, always wanting my attention’, and, ‘my staff are such a pain in the arse, they never do it the way I want them to, they just don’t seem to care. Why is it I just can’t find good people?’

I’ve played this out in my own life, several times, as a parent and business owner. I am by no means perfect.

And, it still arises from time-to-time now. My judging and unresponsible self.

This is otherwise known as a strain of the deadly virus, ‘victimitis’.

I had it for years.

Common symptoms are an outward blaming of other people for things not going as you ‘fantasised’ in your life. Anger, resentment, hatred, low energy, mood swings, self-distraction, substance abuse, self-medication, escapism.

I have experienced all of these, many times. And, sometimes still do.

As Rag n’ Bone man says so beautifully, ‘I’m only human, after all …’

All because I perceived the fantasies I’d created in my mind had actually turned into nightmares.

Until, one day, I worked with a coach, Josef. He said something very profound when I was bemoaning to him about how it was so hard with me being a parent, running a business, having a family, blah, blah, blah.

He slowed me down and said something similar to:

“What if you were to surrender to the opportunities to grow that life has presented you with?”

I actually didn’t know what he meant at the time, so my defences went up. “Yeah, yeah, sounds like a good idea. Anyway, about me and this client, I’d like some help with …”.

I didn’t really take it in, not until I listened to the recording of the call a few days later and it hit me like a bolt of lightning … commonly known in coaching terms as ‘an insight’.

I realised I’d been resisting parenthood and entrepreneurship.

So, right there and then, I chose to change the way I related to being a Dad.

Rather than resist it and blame everyone and the baby for ‘taking so much time … life will never be the same again … my freedom has gone’, which was the inner dialogue I had running in my mind I chose to go ‘ALL IN’ with being a present parent.

Guess what … everything changed.

I stopped comparing my idealistic view of how being a ‘Dad’ should be (built on fantasies and stories I’d created in my mind) and realised that it was going to present me with an opportunity to learn and grow like never before.

To give myself to the fellow human I’d co-created with my wife, and love as I’d never loved before.

It felt hard. To love unconditionally in the midst of sleep deprivation and the stress I’d created in my business.

But it was ultimately the most rewarding investment of my time I ever made, and continue to make.

Being a parent is an honour that not everyone gets to experience. It’s also a responsibility. The biggest one of all.

My role model for parenthood was very different. My Dad was an inspiration in many ways with his loving nature and drive for success, but he wasn’t around much. So, my ‘model’ of what a Dad should be was the one that didn’t do ‘home stuff’ … he grafted and created money so we could have a home, food and holidays.

No judgement here, at all, I’m very grateful for my childhood.

But, I didn’t have to follow his example … I could choose a different path.

I did. And, it was one of the best things I’ve ever created.

Not without challenge. There are times when being a Dad can feel so hard, draining, frustrating, and tiring. The same for Mums, too.

But, that’s the way life is. Nothing worth having is without challenge.

Creating a thriving business, or bringing up a rounded and healthy child, takes commitment, energy, time, and the choice to stop playing victim to outside circumstance and own the fact that you chose both — parenthood and entrepreneurship.

Once you surrender to that fact and break the fantasy you had in your mind of how you ‘thought’ things should be you are free to create something far more empowering.

And you stop judging the child, or the business, for changing your life …

By choosing to see parenthood and entrepreneurship as a choice you made to grow and develop yourself in ways you never knew possible … to lead as you’ve never lead before … to inspire yourself and others … you start to see challenges as ‘on the way’ not ‘in the way’.

You bring power back to yourself vs. giving it away to some external force that has suddenly, without warning, delivered you a baby and a business.

If there’s an area of your life you feel low and disappointed in right now it’s probably due to you having created a fantasy of how it ‘should be’ vs. the realities of how ‘it is’.

I encourage you to slow down and consider a different approach.

Own your choices, take back your power, and choose to come from a different place of ‘being’ inside yourself.

Choose to lead your life vs. letting it lead you.

Choose to own your choices and see what you can create moving forward.

Choose to go ‘ALL IN’.

It won’t be all plane sailing, but, it will be much more fun and empowering.

Rocco along with his brother Enzo, have been my biggest teachers.

Those boys, along with starting my first business, presented me with some of the most challenging, and fun, times of my life.

And, for that, I am so grateful.

Your nightmares can turn into fairytales if you choose to lead.

Love and wellness,

David.

“A father carries pictures where his money used to be.”
Anonymous