“It will only take 5 minutes,” “it will be good to get her out of the house.” I was trying to convince myself that taking Nala with me to the grocery store would be a good idea. After all I wanted to give Megan 5 minutes to herself after another testing day with a two year old. As always, before we left the house we followed the routine – made sure she had clothes on (harder than you think) asked if she wanted to go to the toilet and then proceeded to say goodbye to every object in our house, this phase lasted almost a year. Yes, I mean we said goodbye to everything, the cups, the windows even the walls and floors. Finally, we could begin the next sequence of events, which revolved around trying to get her in the car seat, which followed similar protocols to NASA sending people to the moon. We made it! We’re off to Woolies… how hard could it be? We’ll just run in and out grab what we need and leave.
So there we were in the fruit and vegetable section. It’s Sunday afternoon and there are families everywhere doing the routine weekly shop. As I start bagging up some fruit I hear Nala yelling “Dad Dad Dad!” Without turning I say “yes Nala what is it?” “I need to wee” she said. We had been going through toilet training at the time and I was pretty confident she had given me enough notice to get her to a toilet. So I turned ready to hustle to the closest parents room only to find my 2 year old standing in what seemed like enough urine to fill up an Olympic swimming pool. Don’t worry it wasn’t all urine, unfortunately it was also filled with the tears streaming down her cheeks. With a basket full of groceries and what felt like ten thousand eyes watching me I knew this was a big Dad moment. On one side of my brain there was rage and frustration, I could hear myself thinking I knew I should have left her at home. If it was only going to take 5 minutes then I’m sure Megs could take one for the team! This rage was driven by my burnt ego, the comments from other customers weren’t helping as I could feel myself heating up and the sweat building quickly across my forehead. On the other side were the softer feelings for my little girl, empathy (after all I’d been in a similar position after a few to many) and compassion. As she stared at me through her teary big blue eyes, looking for a sign of what to do next I remembered one of my greatest business lessons. “Celebrate the behavior you want more of rather than correct the behavior you want less of.” You see in that moment I realised Nala had done everything she knew how. She had communicated to me that she needed to go to the bathroom, after that it was my job. I mean after all it was me that decided we wouldn’t need a nappy on for such a quick trip. So with my realization and the crowd watching my next move I gently smiled, knelt down on one knee and said “thanks for telling me Nala, you did so well. That must feel better now?” And with my arms outstretched she came running towards me and wrapped her urine coated legs all around my body. Now of course I could hear comments such as “disgusting” “how could he allow that” being made but all I cared about in that moment was teaching my daughter that progress is better than perfection. Then we learnt about Problem solving You see the best thing about a grocery store these days is they have everything you can imagine. In fact we turned a potential negative into an amazing adventure of finding some new clothes, wipes, nappy’s and of course we even got a mop so we could help clean up the mess we made.
This story is so important to me on my entrepreneurial journey, it reminds me that being in business makes me a better Dad, and being a Dad makes me better in business. I was always told to choose, either be a family man or be a business man but you can’t have both! I mentioned my EGO almost getting the best of me in this particular situation, in business I am constantly reminding myself that E.G.O stands for ‘Enemy of Goals and Opportunity. Without this knowledge I know I would have given into the wrong emotions on that day and potentially missed an important Dad moment which I mightn’t have had again. If you’ve read this far, my advice is simple. Don’t miss your moment.