Can You Accept That LOVE Is The Answer?

Guys, I want to share some amazing things that happened to me over these past 2 weeks.

I want to share how my intentional interaction with about 15 adults, 9 boys and 12 girls has led me on this amazing journey of finding more love.

At the end of February, I went to Jamaica with 7 other guys. We do an annual retreat to different locations for about 15 years now. But it has evolved into more than just a guy’s trip. It has begun to impact my entire life. This Council of Dads—help crack me open and explore who I am, where I’ve been and where I am going.  They help sharpen my axe and tools when it comes to being a husband, a dad and a business owner. On this recent trip, I was able to explore my fears, my anger, my ego and my pride. And in the end—I felt loved.

We went to an orphanage to spend some time with 9 boys. The boys’ ages ranged from 6 to 16. Together we played and laughed, watched over them and served them dinner. I noticed how much each boy felt the need to grab and hug us men and be close to us personally. They craved love. And they wanted to just be with us. Whatever we were doing. And quickly I became aware of all my emotions. My joy in seeing their faces, my fear in not knowing what to do when they hugged me, my anger when I pulled out my phone and distracted the moment with a device, my pride in serving them dinner and eating with them in their dining hall. My eyes were wide open. I was taking it all in. I was in the moment.

By going to this orphanage, I’ve gone deeper in asking, “What’s next? What else?” It’s allowed my heart to open even wider. Open to exploring my fears as a husband and a dad. A place where my pride or ego has usually gotten in the way. How sometimes as a leader of my family or business I try to wear a mask that says… ”Fear not—I’ve got this all handled.” But that isn’t the truth. And you as the reader know that–and I know it—but I still try and do it. But being vulnerable to take off that mask… well, that was my work.  And I wrestled with it for a long time. And I will continue to wrestle with it. But with open eyes, and an open heart, I heard that message in Jamaica.

The answer is LOVE.

When I work with teams, teens and coaches, they first hear me with their head. It’s ok. It’s usually how everyone does it. But the more we interact and share and dive deeper… it starts working its way to their hearts. And the really great ones… the ones with trust and ability to be vulnerable, eventually get it all the way down to their gut. It becomes such an intense feeling that when it’s not present, it hurts.  

I am honored and privileged to work with 12 girls and 6 coaches on a varsity basketball team.  We work on culture within their team and mission, vision, value along with priorities each season. This team is the BEST team I have ever worked with—they have a relentless focus. They have the ability to be comfortable being uncomfortable. They embrace what they need to work on, and they conquer fear.  You can read more about them here. Most of all, they did all this AFTER they lost 2 of their best players to injuries. Yes 40% of their starting lineup missed the 2nd half of their season. When it happened, many people said, ”Oh no that is too bad. They were going to win the state championship too. Oh well… we feel so sorry for you girls.”  You know who didn’t feel sorry? Us. We didn’t. Not one coach, not one player. We got in a room and said, we are still going to win it all. I don’t know how, I don’t know against who, but nothing changes with regard to our quest. We are STILL going to win. They never bitched and never complained that it wasn’t fair. They just said, “Ok now what?” They won because they conquered their fear.

 

When we talk about “fears,” I have noticed that there is always a negative connotation associated with this emotion. Most people believe fear is bad. But I don’t agree with that. Fear has kept a lot of people alive in situations that were pretty dangerous. I am open to recognizing fear as neither good nor bad—they are judgements and stories I tell myself. Fear is just an emotion. And I get to choose what I do with it.  Fear wins when it paralyzes us. When fear ceases us from action it can be dangerous.

So how do we conquer our fears? How do we use our fears? To not be afraid?

Again, we do it with LOVE.  

We shared with the girls before going to the State Tournament that they were going to WIN… because of LOVE. Not because our best player was going to score 70 points in 3 games, not because our press break was the best, and not because we were going to score more points from the free throw line. We were going to WIN because they were LOVED.

That message to them would not have been possible without my eyes being opened in Jamaica.  It would not have been possible without my heart being opened by my Council of Dads. And I’m sure you too have had some amazing experiences – but a lot of times we just don’t pay attention. It’s out there for you to see. Pay attention. Be present. Be receiving. Let your guard down. I don’t have to know it all as a husband or a dad. I just have to love. Love myself first. Love my wife more. Love my kids unconditionally.  Love wins. Love conquers all.

I know it sounds corny as hell.  I am nervously laughing as I type… do I really want to be this vulnerable and put this out there?

But how can you love yourself more? To not beat yourself up for mistakes but rather see them as opportunities?

How can you connect and love your spouse more?  It’s so easy to get distracted in raising kids that we forget to LOVE our spouse.

Can you say to friends or even enemies, “How can I love you more?”… right now.

I love to win.  And yes, we won the state tournament.  But I LOVE that team. 

Share your story or thoughts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn. You can also email me at DJ@Dare2Dad.com.