These Are the Lessons That I Learned From Fatherhood

It is true what they say, that time flies when you’re a parent. One minute you’re watching your kids take their first step and the next minute they’re out the door and headed to college. I’m not quite there yet — my oldest has three more years before he’ll be stepping foot on any campus. But I can feel time ticking … quickly.

Running a business that stretches across the globe can be tough, but nothing is harder than parenthood. And truth be told, being a dad has probably taught me more about running a business and being a better human than anything. It’s rewarding and thankless all at the same time. Here are four critical lessons that parenthood provides.

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When You Fail, Pick Yourself Up and Carry On

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But there’s no time for moping. Ever. Because there’s always something else that needs to get done, another kid that needs to be picked up, or a question that needs to be answered. There is no time to dwell on your failures or drown in self-pity because you have humans that are depending on you to show up, always. You quickly learn that the huge failure that happened yesterday is just one tiny lego in the enormous Tupperware of thousands to choose from. So you learn to pick yourself up and carry on.

Fear Is Never a Reason to Quit

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It’s a great lesson to teach your kids — that fear is just a feeling that you can learn to tolerate and use to your advantage — but it’s not easy in the moment. This might be the single most useful strategy I use as a business owner. There have been some touch and go moments here over the last 18 months, but it’s never been a reason to quit. And so here we are — still standing — meeting racers at the starting line and preparing for the last half of this year to be f****** incredible.

Even the Best-laid Plans are Bound to Blow Up

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Whether you like it or not, parenthood forces you to go with the flow. On any given week there are multiple moments where what we have planned doesn’t go as planned. The more that you learn to embrace this, the more crazy good times you’ll have. If you resist this, it’ll drive you crazy. So choose your crazy.

Love What You’ve Got, Not What You Wish You Had

It sounds obvious, but it’s a key lesson in finding joy with what’s in front of you. I push my kids — 100 percent — and I won’t apologize for it because I think kids need to be pushed. One thing I’ve learned, however, is that I can push them to do burpees, eat avocados, do their math, finish their Mandarin, and get to places on time, but I can’t push them to be a certain personality. They are who they are.

I’ve got four kids and each one of them has their own character. Of course my ego wants them to be a little bit like me but in truth, who they are is way better. I’ve seen this sentiment work wonders with both business and other areas of my life. When you appreciate what you have, it appreciates. Spend time wishing for something else and it dissipates.

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I always knew that I wanted to be a father. My own Dad taught me tons about failure, resilience, hard work, and commitment. It’s been quite a journey to learn how to be a dad and, honestly, I’m still self-correcting everyday — figuring out what works and what doesn’t. It is hands down the best job on the planet and the one that takes up the most space in my head, even when I’m building races across the globe. I’m grateful to my kids for teaching me and for the opportunity to learn. To all the dads out there this Father’s Day, Happy Father’s Day.

Joe De Sena is the founder & CEO of Spartan, the world’s leading endurance sports and wellness brand, and the New York Times bestselling author of three books.