Mike Singletary: Leader on the Field and At Home, but How About You?

Tonight is Monday Night football night. The San Francisco 49er’s face off against the Arizona Cardinals, with both teams not living up to the pre-season expectations. The 49er’s coach, Mike Singletary, is even on the “hot-seat” accord to many in the media.

This would certainly scare me if I had the ball!

Most remember fiery Singletary for his intense gaze as he patrolled and led the Chicago Bear defense from 1981-1992. In fact, one of my favorite all-time teams was the 1985 Bears that won the Super Bowl that year against the New England Patriots. Singletary lead a defense that some consider one of the best in history.

Yet, Singletary’s biggest contribution to this world was probably not on the football field, either as a player 20 years ago or as a head coach today.  Mike Singletary is the cornerstone of his family as he and his wife have seven children. The Coach has written three books: Singletary One on OneCalling the Shots, and Daddy’s Home at Last. When Singletary first arrived in San Francisco, he snatched highly-talented tight-end Vernon Davis off the field for not being a team player (check out his classic press conference speech below). If there was ever a “daddy moment” during the game for all to see, that was definitely one. Any father that ever had to discipline his child on the field for their antics or any child that has been the recipient of such rebuke could certainly relate. But Singletary’s decision that day earned him the respect of 49er leadership, the rest of the team, and most importantly, Vernon Davis himself. Singletary is a man that knows how to lead men.

Perhaps you are a dad that stepped into a situation that requires you to lead a team that, well… let us just say, “your guys” aren’t on the team. Meaning, you may be a step-dad of children who seem to be set in their ways and you continually think, “If I would have raised you, you would not be acting this way”. You may be a dad who has been in the military and away from your children for large periods of time, and they seem to ignore your discipline when you are home. You may be a dad who has been there, but you have sat back and let your wife handle the discipline because you want to be the “fun-dad”. Whatever situation you find yourself in, you need to be that cornerstone for leadership and discipline inside your home.

Like Singletary, we must be willing to not just lead in the boardroom, factory, or on the field. But in the living room (and not just the bedroom as that tends to be the only room in the house many men want to lead in), our kids classroom, and the chapel. Our kids are waiting and I wish I could say our wives are waiting, but many are not any longer, they are leading and laying down the discipline without us. What a shame. If you do not lead your young men, who will? Is the street capable to lead them? How about our daughters? Will we allow another man to lead them?

Coach Singletary may be on the hot-seat for the 49er’s losing record this season, I would be willing to bet the team’s record does not reflect the impact he has had on the men’s lives that he has coached in less than three short seasons. That is what being a CornerstoneDad is all about, being essential in the building and character of your home. To be anything less is not being a cornerstone, but pet. Maybe that’s why so many men are said to be dogs.

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“Thank You Lord for All Our Blessings, but It Is Not Enough. Amen.”

I have a sure-fire love-line you can say to your lady. You know, one of those “sweet-nothing” phrases. “Baby, I am so thankful that I have you, for all you have done for me and what a blessing you are to me. So thankful, that tomorrow I think we should go out and start looking for another wife. Let us get up early, and see what we can find. Love you sweetie.”

Now, unless your wife is featured on Sister Wives, I have a feeling those lines aren’t going to go over very well. Yet, this is basically the attitude of many American’s this time of year. Thanksgiving comes and we are inundated with stories about being thankful for all of the things that we have and the very next story appeals to the consumption side of our personalities by telling us it is “Black Friday” (wait, isn’t it also Black Friday if a bunch of people at work get fired?) and stores open early for us to begin Christmas shopping. Am I the only one noticing this inconsistency? “Be thankful for all you have, but go spend to get more because it is not enough!” To make matters worse, the third story is probably about the threat of a “W” recession and the unemployment numbers (which is at 9% as of October 2010 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics .

Financial talk show host Dave Ramsey (www.daveramsey.com) commonly says that getting out of debt changes your family tree. I think those are very true words. First, the Bible says in Proverbs 22:7 that, “The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender.” Therefore Dad, how can you properly be the cornerstone of your family if you are a slave to a credit card company and/or bank?

Those companies will run your house really well as they will dictate when everyone wakes up with their unsolicited 8 A.M. wake-up calls to becoming an uninvited guest at dinner or with 8:30 P.M. “night-night” bedtime calls. Yes indeed, your kids will view mom and dad in a whole new light as they watch them panic like a roach in light, when that phone rings and you look at the caller-ID and tell them not to answer the phone numerous times each day. Yes, Sweet Daddy move over, there’s a new loan shark in the Evan’s family!

 

The Evans family could always count on old Sweets to give them money when they needed it, for a price they never could afford to repay!

If you are slave to the lender, please show some wisdom this Christmas season. The very people you may be trying to impress would not be too impressed if they knew the amount of debt your household carries. Imagine those people being over at your home when the phone rings and asking, “Your phone is ringing, you aren’t going to answer it?” Then again, would it really matter? Debt and consumption are the fuels to the American economy right? Creditcards.com reports that the average household has nearly four credit cards as of 2008. The average credit card debt for those households is nearly $16,000! Time for a change, and it begins at home by not being a slave to your personal Sweet Daddy Williams.

This is our first Christmas with no credit card and that is what I’m truly thankful for. No payments to linger into 2011 from 2010. This is surely the greatest gift that I will give my children this holiday season.

Next time, we’ll take another look at the benefits of changing your family tree by becoming debt free. You can influence your children’s attitude in a whole new way concerning money. Left on their own, society has no problem teaching them if you will not. The real message this time of year is actually, “Be thankful for what you have been able to accumulate, but keep striving to attain more because you do not want to be without the latest _____.”

Dad, Get the Gift That Keeps On Giving

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As I pointed out in my previous post, I have always enjoyed taking photos. However, like any other hobby, what is my “thang” may not be someone else’s “thang”. But Dads, if you have children, you need to get a camera and use it.

Now,  I’m writing this to you to give you plenty of notice as Thanksgiving is around the corner and if money is going to be too tight before then, you can get ready to shop online or hit the stores for the “Black Friday” sales. Actually, our family’s first digital camera was this inexpensive HP E317 model like the one below that my photo friend teased me heavily about. Yet, this little camera delivered a couple of my best shots ever. Now, that does go to show that sometimes it is not about the price of the equipment, but whether you read the instruction booklet and learn how to use it. So buy what your wallet can afford and don’t get sucked into the novice megapixel game.

Your homework if you will, is to take photos of your family this holiday season. Try not to have everyone pose for every picture, but just get shots of the family interacting. Now, most of you likely have done this, but when was the last time you went back and looked at the photos? At least every year, I suggest you go back and look at the photos from the previous holiday a year prior. I think you are going to be amazed at how much your family has changed in what seemed to be a short amount of time.

Men spend so much time every day at work or looking for work, most are not fortunate enough to be stay-at-home dads that get to catch so many moments like mom often catches. Perhaps your kids are older, well my friend, pretty soon they will not even be spending holidays with you, but with friends or “friends” (if you know what I mean). So capture those memories while you can.

Personally, I have more children that most of the people I know. Conversely, I know of no one who has a house as small as mine. Meaning, I have no man-cave, basement, hot rod, or anything else to “escape” when the kids start working my nerves. But recently I started looking at some photos I had just taken earlier this year. My girls have changed the most out of everybody in last few months and it dawned on me how time is flying by. Pretty soon, Lord’s Will and the creek-don’t-rise, they will have their own families or perhaps living far away and we will not be able to be together. Then I will be wanting to run to them, instead of running away from them.

If you need any tips on making a camera purchase, there are some great inexpensive models out there and I am glad to help. As much as I hate to say it, use the camera-phone if you have to, as long as you download the pictures and not just leave them there to send to relatives. Enjoy dads and appreciate the fact that you no longer have to take film in to develop (unless you want) and you can delete the bad pictures, which are common when shooting indoors.

Enjoy, stay strong, and show them some love.

Cool Pappa

Shooting With Dad

 

When I was younger, I remember my dad, aka Lillpappa, having a really nice camera and always taking pictures.  When I got older, I started with my little pocket camera and now I have finally moved up to a digital SLR. Needless-to-say, sometimes it is not even about the destination with me, but whether I can shoot some nice photos once I get there. My kids are now catching the photo-bug as well.

Children can catch things with the lens that we as adults often miss. First, our perspective of the world is of course taller. Many pictures we even take of them are shot from up above. However, there seems to be much more “pop” to photos that they may take of each other, face-to-face, that we do not catch from above. With the price of digital camera being extremely cheap or perhaps you have that old one sitting around that you never use, why not let your kids use or at least borrow it? Next, plan an afternoon where you take them out and view the world through the lens. Whether you barely know anything about shooting photos and you only use it when your wife tells you she wants shots of the kid’s birthday gigs, or whether you are a professional, I guarantee you that your kids will appreciate just the opportunity to be with you. The learning, the interaction and nice photos bring added value to the trip.

Lillpappa loved to take photos of bridges and still does to this day. The Golden Gate bridge has been our family favorite, but a bridge just about anywhere is worthy of a shot. Look for plenty of other bridge photos in the future shot by me, Cool Pappa, and my tribe.

Until next time dads, stay strong and show the family some love.

Cool Pappa

Dad, Are You Brave Enough to Test Your Success?


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Last time I asked you how you defined success as a dad. If you judge your success by what your children think, All-Pro Dad has a test that is perfect for you. Perhaps you do not have the courage or relationship to ask your children how they think you are doing or have done as a father. This little test can be a conversation-starter. Have your child/children take the test preferably with you not around. Then look at their answers and the recommendations by All-Pro Dad. Did your child’s answer reflect what you were thinking? Did you score better than you thought or not as good as you expected? Whatever the outcome, determine today to get better and to DO better. Both of you are alive therefore it is not too late for a brand new start.

The test can be found at: http://www.allprodad.com/resources/kidsquiz.php

Dad, How Do You Define Success?

In my very first Sociology class, my brilliant professor asked me a question when I said that I had two children during the obligatory class introductions. “Are you a good father?” she innocently asked, but in a way that I immediately knew there was much more to the question that she posed. I replied, “The only people that can really answer that question are my wife and kids.” Later, Dr. Lewis told me that my answer was full of wisdom. What was funny was that I did not even know where that wisdom came from in me. Yet as I get older, my kids grow, and my wedding anniversaries run like a car odometer, I understand that she was the wise one, as her question was like one that Jesus would ask. It illuminates more to the person answering the question than the person asking.

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As dad’s, how do we measure our success? In the workforce, your employer’s performance review may ask you how well you think you performed in the last year. Yet ultimately, your success is defined by them, not you (from an external locus of control point-of-view). If you define your success as most do, by receiving a pay increase, bonus, or some other reward, is that the most accurate reflection of your success with the company? Conversely many Dad’s define success on their own terms or so they think. These terms tend to reflect societies expectations or norms and include, “I’m a good provider” or “I am at home with my family when most men aren’t” and even, “I’m here to set them straight and teach them how hard this world is.” Soon we’ll look closer at why these definitions are lacking and leave our families and even us  men who say this, wanting more.

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Until then, dad, how do you define success with your family? Does the end justify the means in your worldview? Do you feel that if your kids stay out of trouble and get good grades, then you must be doing something right? Would your wife and children say you are a good father or do you say and think they would say that you are a good dad?

 

 

Just 15 Minutes

When my parents lived close by, I would often go over to their house and visit. Always being tired, or perhaps after some of mom’s good home cooking, I’d say, “Ma, I just need 15 minutes, and I’ll be good.” Then I’d doze off for about 15 minutes and get up feeling refreshed and good-to-go after the recharge. Mom would always follow-up with, “I don’t know how you do that with just 15 minutes of sleep, that wouldn’t do anything for me.”

 

But it does a lot for my children.

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Now as I continue being tired every day and a house full of children wanting my attention, I’m learning the value of just ’15 minutes’. Perhaps I learned it more because of the child that didn’t live in my house with me.

Whether it’s 15 minutes of basketball with one, 15 minutes of reading with this one, or 15 minutes of hot wheels with that one, 15 minutes is a start to giving them the time they need. In that 15 minute time period, I could’ve taken a quick nap, checked my fantasy football team, or any number of “important” things that seem to need to get done in that time span.

In 15 minutes, my dad took me for a walk to the store on a Thanksgiving day after a huge snow storm. In 15 minutes my dad played catch with me (which ended when I took a ball off my dome from one of his throws) despite the fact that he hates sports and thinks they are a waste of time.

But he knew I loved baseball and still do to this day. Most importantly, I remember the 15 minutes he spent but he probably doesn’t any longer.

Now if my dad did it after working 16 hour shifts, something most of my Gen X friends have never done, then how much more can I…you…we do?

Fellas I know your time is tight. I know the stress of this life wears on you like sandpaper on paint. But your money, presence, and discipline are standard features. It’s the options that make one car more special than any other.

I know you are tired of making a dollar out of 15 cents. But please take the time to also make a man or a woman, by starting at just 15 minutes.