The Father Factor

A Personal Philosophy Can Help Dads Focus on What Matters Most

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Nov 19, 2019


Do you ever struggle to focus on what matters most?

I certainly do. I sometimes struggle with what matters most as a husband to my wife, as a dad to my daughters, and as president of National Fatherhood Initiative® (NFI). I’m constantly on the lookout for tips and guidance on how to focus on what matters most.

I read an article several months ago by Dr. Michael Gervais on how to develop a personal philosophy that he uses to help high-performing individuals in business, music, and sports focus on what matters most and perform their best. As I read the article, I was struck by the fact that if developing a personal philosophy works for these high-performing individuals, it could help anyone to perform at their best in any role in life, including being a dad.

So, as a pilot test of sorts, I followed Dr. Gervais’ simple process for developing a personal philosophy of my own.  I first asked the following questions:

  • When I’m at my best, what beliefs lie just beneath the surface of my thoughts and actions?
  • Who are people that demonstrate characteristics and qualities that are in alignment with mine?
  • What are those qualities?
  • What are my favorite quotes? My favorite words?

I then examined my responses and chose the words that stood out to me. From those words, I crafted my personal philosophy.

Embrace life with compassion for self and others.
Commit with focus to what matters most.
Learn, always.
Challenge assumptions—my own, especially—with an open mind.

Since then, I’ve done something Dr. Gervais says is vital for a personal philosophy to have maximum impact. I committed it to memory and review it daily. (The four words in bold helped me to memorize each phrase.) I printed it and placed it on my work desk to review at the start of the day.

Has it helped? Yep. It’s helped me focus on what matters most as a husband, dad, and professional.


Because each phrase addresses the core beliefs and values that keep me centered on my strengths so that I can, as much as possible, reduce the influence of the parts of my character that cause me to struggle.

Take the first phrase, for example. One of the most persistent struggles I’ve had throughout my life is to enjoy my life. A quality of many people that I admire is the ability to enjoy life by embracing it. I struggle to embrace life. I need a constant reminder to do it. Now when I’m faced with an opportunity to enjoy my life—especially when the opportunity involves doing something that pushes me out of my comfort zone—that phrase helps me embrace the opportunity and not pass it up. Many of those opportunities have been with one or both of my daughters. They’ve enriched our relationships.

Can developing a personal philosophy help the dads you serve?


Take it from this test subject. I’m a better dad for it.

Could the dads you serve benefit from a focus on what matters most? Use Dr. Gervais’ simple process to help an individual dad or a group of dads to develop a personal philosophy.

Could a personal philosophy of your own help you to serve dads even better?

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