#1612 Areté +1° #273: Parenting: 3 Tips

Lessons on How to Be a Great Dad

Hi, this is Brian.

Welcome back to another Areté +1°, a micro-chapter from Areté: Activate Your Heroic Potential.

One of 451 of my favorite big ideas.

Here it is…


After a keynote I gave to a group of venture capitalists and entrepreneurs in Los Angeles, one of the CEOs came up and asked me how to apply the wisdom I shared to his parenting.

Then another guy who was also waiting to connect said: “I’d love to hear your thoughts on that as well.”

I was struck by how inspiring it was that these super-successful and ambitious guys were so committed to being great dads.

So… First, I briefly told them about the etymology of the word parent. The word means “to bring forth.” I told them that, from my perspective, our primary job as parents is to help bring forth and help activate the latent (Heroic!) potential within our kids.

Then I shared three things that I think are the most powerful ways to help bring forth that awesomeness. Here’s a quick take.

#1. Be an exemplar.

It’s a truism, but kids don’t listen to what we tell them to do, they model what we ACTUALLY do. Therefore, the most important thing we can do for our kids is to be a demonstration of what we hope they will aspire to be.

Important note: This is, by far, my greatest motivation as a human being, a man, and a father.

#2. Give presence.

The second thing I shared is also ridiculously obvious: be present. As often as possible, put your smartphone in airplane mode in another room when you spend time with your kids (and your spouse and, well, any human).

This simple act removes the greatest barrier to our presence and provides the fastest route to both connecting with our kids and modeling the style of connection (see #1 on being an exemplar) that will be so important for our kids in a more and more hyper-connected (yet paradoxically disconnected) world.

#3. Embrace challenges.

The third thing we talked about was the importance of embracing what Carol Dweck calls a growth mindset. Her book Mindset has been my go-to playbook for parenting. I HIGHLY recommend it. I’ve been very deliberate in following Dweck’s advice to embrace challenges and always reward EFFORT not “ability.”

For example, on the effort front, I say things like: “Nice trail running!” rather than “You’re a great trail runner!” Or: “I saw how hard you worked to climb up that slide—and that you almost fell then caught yourself and kept on going. Love how hard you tried!” rather than “You’re such a great climber!”

On the challenges front, Dweck tells us to talk about our own challenges and how we’re facing them. She encourages us to “rub our hands together” with excitement when things are hard. I’m ALL ABOUT this. I literally rub my hands together any time something is challenging (on the most mundane things) and say, “Oh, wow! I love challenges.”

Or when I watch the kids do something hard—whether that’s build a Lego set or play a tough opponent in chess—I say: “AWESOME. That one’s challenging. How fun!”

It’s almost surreal how much the kids have embraced this. Emerson once asked his nanny: “Do you love challenges? I DO!”


Back to me and the two dads. And YOU and our +1°…

If you’re a parent, what’s working? What needs work? What are YOUR Top Three all-time most powerful parenting practices? What, specifically, can you do to bring forth the best in yourself and your kids?

Let’s create the strength for two as we do the hard work to activate our and our kids’ Heroic potential.


Unlock this Heroic +1 (and over 1,000 more)!

Create your account to get more wisdom in less time. Personal development made simple so you can flourish in energy, work, and love. Today.

Sign Up Today