The first time I saw this was sometime in May of 2011 while flying across the US inside a Boeing 737.
I was commuting back and forth between the Midwest and West Coast on a weekly basis.
I was uncertain about a lot of things.
Specifically, in addition to my dad’s health failing and wanting to be more available to both my parents, I’d been divorced from my wife of almost 13 years only since September of 2010, mostly over issues of wanting/not wanting children. We are still good pals but those issues will break a marriage.
Anyway, the rebound informed me I was going to be a daddy in January of 2011 and, while I couldn’t have possibly been happier about that, I was working hard to convince myself about all the rest, the relationship, geography, the work I was doing, my options and what mattered to me the most.
Over the few years leading up to that moment, I put everything I had into a consultancy focused on mobile, usability and content. The work I was doing was satisfying and challenging but it required that I follow wherever it led, within the US or beyond. It had been exciting up until that point, full of variety, adventure and amazing people.
In an instant, though, as I sat there on the tarmac, I decided on taking a regular job and shutting down what I’d worked so hard to build. Being home every night for the little one mattered more than anything. The decision was easy. I decided right there in about two seconds flat.
Here is an interesting observation:
All my pals who’d been having kids during the years leading up to that moment had pretty consistently only complained about the same things:
“We used to do that before _______ was born.”
“We don’t really do that anymore besides ________ has soccer all season.”
What I wouldn’t give to have that life again. I can’t do that now because of _________.”
and on and on.
Funny thing is, I don’t recall anyone commenting about how easy making decisions becomes when kids show up. No one mentioned it.
Making decisions before, as a single or married-with-no-kids person, seemed to take real work.
Making decisions when a person has kids? It goes like this:
Is (whatever) in the little one’s best interest? No? Yes? BAM. Decision made.
That would be my very first taste of it. What? Fold a consultancy that takes me all over the world? To take a regular job?
It was one of the quickest, easiest and most satisfying decisions I’ve ever made. To deconstruct what I’d built!
Another thing that separated it? I didn’t need anyone’s advice on making it. I knew in my bones it was the right choice.
I had wanted to be a daddy for so many years and yet I didn’t see how all the dots in my life, connected backwards like Steve Jobs said, all pointed to this. All my free time had been spent volunteering and mentoring kids and organizations that support those important things.
Now, here I was, airborne now, and beginning to build a new idea in my mind, that I was built for this. To be a parent who wasn’t just around for their child. One who is present. What could be more challenging?
I checked email and received this video as a link from a pal. I watched it over and over and over, again, reviewing my decision in my mind as I watched. Over and over it was clear. I was absolutely making the right choice. For my little boy, for me, for what I wanted for him.
Would the rest work out? Didn’t matter. All that matters is making sure I keep close and center what matters most. As long as that stays aligned, I told myself, everything else will follow suit and support that.
There is no way I could have know how this little video, a reminder of that moment, that decision and the memory of moments leading up to and following after, would power me through some of the toughest and most unexpected moments of my life in the months and years ahead of when I first saw it. It would become a meditation, a centering routine, accessible whenever I felt I needed it – while waiting in lines, folding laundry, cooking, even using the restroom and during all of the in-between moments that might otherwise be filled by distractions that arguably hold a lot less merit.