I talk to lots of people and they tell me lots of stories. I spoke to a man today who told me of the moment in his career when he knew what he wanted. He was traveling and got trapped in a small town due to a horrendous snow storm. The only way he could get home was to hitch a ride on the company jet with a Vice President who was in the same city for a meeting. When the man got on board the jet he was nervous and wasn’t sure how to talk to the VP on the long flight home. Before he knew it the VP started a conversation by saying, “Don’t do what I did.”
Not exactly what he thought the VP might say, he asked what the VP meant. During the flight the VP talked of his choices – money, power, climbing the corporate ladder – and how those were the wrong choices. He told of how his children were grown and gone and his striving meant he was never home. He missed their entire childhood. The time with his children and family was gone and he could never get it back. No amount of money or power or status could give him back the time he lost.
For the gentleman telling me the story he said it was the moment in his own life where he knew he never wanted to be a father who had such regrets. As a result he became very good at what he did and made sure he made it home for dinner, helped his children with their homework, and could give them a hug before bedtime. The words of that VP in a jet in a snowstorm made an impression that changed his life.
Sometimes our best lessons come from observing someone else’s life and doing the exact opposite. Sometimes our stories can help others better understand what they want. And sometimes a snowstorm is a turning point that can change the world, one family at a time.
I would like every father to have that epiphany, or not have children at all.