The Leading Indicators of Fathering

Kris Girrell
Guest Columnist


Wall Street stock analysts use a very sophisticated algorithm in coming to their recommendation to buy, sell or hold a stock.

They look at many indicators including both trailing indicators of the business or stock’s performance (like the 30-day moving average and the annual high/low range), and they look at what are called “leading indicators.”

Leading indicators are elements of what is happening now that would predict whether a stock would outperform its historical average or tank. Leading indicators are dynamics in place now that have an effect way down the road, and the best analysts know what they are looking for – the culture of the company, the leadership team and the way they handle turbulence. It got me thinking of what might be the leading indicators for fathering.

You see, we men are great observers of what is happening – it’s in our genetics – but what’s happening is a result of what is already in place. The question is, are we good at doing the things that produce long-term effects down the road for our kids? You can’t bitch about the fact that your son is a ne’er-do-well or that your teenage daughter is a train wreck – those are trailing indicators! Sorry. So then what are the best leading indicators that you are going to see a great man or woman later in life? Here are four that I can think of. Consider planting seeds for these now:

  • Pride/self-esteem. There is probably no better leading indicator than teaching your kids pride. What it takes is your expression of pride in them. You can’t tell a kid too many times that you are proud of him or her – not for what they did, but for who they are. Don’t praise your kid’s good grades; tell her that you are proud of her for how dedicated she is. Don’t fall for the every kid gets a trophy routine; help him feel good about working hard and learning the lessons of second or fourth place.With this leading indicator, you see trailing indicators like this: when my boy was 18 he entered his first Spartan race – and crushed it. As I was hosing him down to return him to something I would let into my car he had this big grin and said, “I have never been more proud of myself!” Don’t wait till Father’s Day to tell your kids how proud you are, and if they are grown and on their own, pick up the phone and call them.
  • Life skills. Every boy and girl needs to learn how to use tools, how to swing a hammer and hit the nail on the head every time, how to use a skill saw, how to measure 3x4x5 to make a corner square. Every kid needs to learn how to make a decision based on their values and what is important. Teach your kids how to change a sink trap or change a fuse. Every one of these will be a breeze when those inevitable challenges come up later in life. And trust me, your future son-in-law will think your daughter is the hottest thing since sliced bread when she cuts a board on her own! The leading indicator is that you use every chore as a teaching experience for them. Then you never have to field that call to come and fix this or that.
  • Respect. Do yourself and them a favor and get them into martial arts early where they learn to bow to a master and say sir and ma’am to kids younger than they are but have a higher rank. Howard Gardner (Harvard professor) calls Respect one of the five “minds of the future.” It’s that important. Teach them to respect nature and that mountains will always win the physical challenge! Teach them that they can learn from anyone irrespective of their intellect or religion or skin color. In an age when everything is accessible at anytime without red tape or waiting in line, teach them that waiting your turn is respectful of others. Most of all the leading indicator of respect includes teaching them to respect their mom. Nuff said!
  • Perseverance. The leading indicator of perseverance is never giving up. You cannot tell your kids to never give up; you can’t quote coach Jimmy Valvano, if they wimp out. Look, life is tough, we all know that, and it will kick you hard. But if you don’t get up, take your lessons, dust yourself and get back in the game, you fail at this leading indicator. Many a man has said it’s not how many times you’ve been knocked down, it’s that you get up once more.And teach your girls to quote Maya Angelou (who I worship as a saint): “You may shoot me with your words, you may cut me with your eyes, you may kill me with your hatefulness, but still, like the air, I’ll rise.” This is in my opinion the top leading indicator that your children will grow up to be strong and live great lives. It is for me the leading indicator of fatherhood.

Don’t wait another moment. If you are missing or lax on any of these, start practicing them today before the ticker tape starts trailing down. Happy Father’s Day.

Kris Girrell is an international executive leadership coach and consultant. He is author of Leadership Gold (coming in June 2018), Wrestling the Angel and co-author of A Married Man’s Survival Guide. Kris is married to Sarah, his wife of 26 years, and is the father of three adults (two successful adult women and a young man still in college).

Kris Girrell and David Plante’s book is found HERE.





Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *