“A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together is reality.”
Think for a moment about whether you share a dream with a group. If you’re a fan of a particular sports team, you share the dream that your team will win a championship. If you’re a member of a faith community, you share the dream that you can live according to the values of your faith.
How do we come to share a dream? Through connections that give us shared meaning. This is true in any endeavor, and that includes helping dads to realize the dream of becoming the best dad possible.
When you work with dads in a group, a vital ingredient in your success revolves around your ability to leverage the power of creating connections among the dads that build shared meaning around what it means to be a good dad.
This post is last in a series of posts about defining moments as described in the book The Power of Moments by the brothers Chip and Dan Heath. The primary focus of the book is on how to create meaningful, memorable experiences in the lives of individuals—others’ and even your own. The Heath’s research points to four ways—what I like to call “levers”—to create defining moments:
My last post in the series focused on how you can use pride in your work with dads. Click here to read my post on how you can use insight, and here to read my post on how you can use elevation. This post focuses on the final lever, connection.
According to the Heaths, moments of connection:
“…deepen our relationships with others…When members of groups grow closer, it’s because of moments that create shared meaning.”
You can create these moments for dads by employing any or all of the following three tactics:
- Create a synchronized moment
- Invite shared struggle
- Connect to meaning
Create a Synchronized Moment
This is most obvious and easiest of the tactics to employ. Simply bringing dads together on a regular basis to discuss how to become a better dad creates a synchronized moment—a series of moments, actually—in which each dad becomes part of a group of dads who work at the same time and in the same place to pursue a shared dream. It creates a shared experience that emboldens each dad to achieve more than he could on his own.
The best way in which to create a synchronized moment is to use a fatherhood program, such as the evidence-based 24/7 Dad® program of National Fatherhood Initiative®, that brings dads together long enough to create a powerful shared experience. After dads complete a fatherhood program, you can create shorter synchronized moments that build on that shared experience. You can run one-day or weekend-long workshops on topics not covered in the fatherhood program. You can hold events for dads or for dads and their families.
Invite Shared Struggle
Unless the dads you work with are good dads already, it’s undoubtedly clear to you that they struggle to be good dads. This is their shared struggle. You don’t have to manufacture it. What you must do, however, is invite them to overcome their shared struggle.
The beauty of a group-based fatherhood program is that, as it progresses, dads learn that they are not the only dad that struggles to be a good dad. Simply being in the same room with other dads who face this struggle drives that point home. To invite them, however, requires a specific message that binds them in overcoming the struggle.
To deliver that message, NFI’s fatherhood programs use a fatherhood pledge. Dads recite the 24/7 Dad® Pledge below, for example, at the start and end of every session.
The pledge delivers a consistent message every week that focuses on the shared dream they all share—to become a 24/7 Dad—and, thus, overcome the struggle together. If you don’t use an NFI fatherhood program, ensure that you have a way to deliver a specific, consistent message that delivers this invitation.
Connect to Meaning
To connect dads to what it means to be good dad, you must connect them with their purpose in being a good dad. Purpose, in the words of the Heaths, is defined as:
“…the sense that you are contributing to others, that your work has broader meaning.”
In this context, the “others” and the “work” are children and fathering, respectively. (“Others” could also include the mother and the other dads in the group.)
It’s not enough for dads to develop a passion for their fatherhood role. It’s even more important that they connect to a higher purpose. Your role is to cultivate their purpose. How? By employing the other three levers! As I mentioned in a previous post in this series, a single event can leverage any one or all of the levers. To ensure that your fatherhood program employs the other levers, read my previous posts.
The fatherhood pledges in NFI programs certainly contribute to cultivating a higher purpose. But each dad must connect to his own purpose. NFI’s programs include other tools that help facilitators to cultivate each dad’s purpose. NFI’s 24/7 Dad® program, for example, uses the 24/7 Dad® Checklist shown below.
This checklist helps dads customize how they will become a better dad. At the top of the checklist, dads identify what motivates them to overcome their struggle, which cultivates their purpose. Then, based on what they learned during each session, they identify specific ways (e.g. activities) to be a better dad. They can experiment between sessions to identify ways that are realistic given their situation. As they share what worked and didn’t work at the start of subsequent sessions, they can get feedback from the facilitator and other dads, input that also cultivates their purpose. They can also change their purpose as they learn more about themselves as men, dads, and husbands/partners.
If you don’t use an NFI program, ensure that the program you use has a specific way to cultivate each dad’s purpose. If it doesn’t, create an activity that connects them to it and that reinforces it throughout the program.
I hope that you’ve enjoyed and benefitted from this four-part series on defining moments. I wish you the best in leveraging elevation, insight, pride, and connection!
How do you use moments of connection in your work with dads?
Do you use any of the three tactics in this post—created a synchronized moment, invite shared struggle, or connect to meaning?