I love being a dad. I even like being a dad most of the time. After 4
years though, I sometimes still wonder what in the world I have gotten
myself into. It's really hard. I'm tired. All the time. My 4 year-old
often reminds me that I'm just a tired dad. It can even be terrifying,
knowing that I'm responsible for a couple actual, real-life human
beings. That's a lot of responsibility! Being a dad is very humbling.
I try my hardest to be a good dad, but some days are just not that
great. Sometimes I don't want to play with my kids. Sometimes I want
to go to the bathroom without anyone watching me. Sometimes I get mad
and yell. I know I shouldn't, but after long days of listening to
stomping, slamming doors, "No," "I won't," "I
refuse," and crying about not being able to use the clear tape,
the rational part of my brain shuts down. I always feel bad when I
shout, but I'm also amazed at how easily my daughter forgives and
As cliché as it sounds, in the quiet moments when the kids smile at me
or come give me unsolicited hugs, it all seems worth it. A former
coworker said that kids are 51% worth it. I think mine are at least
52% worth it. Despite the exhaustion and everything else that comes
with being a parent, I love my kids. And I love my wife. Without her,
I would probably spend most of my days hiding under the bed.
Now I'm off to get cheese out the carpet.
One afternoon, I apologized for yelling at her that morning. She
responded, "You did? Hmm, okay. I don't remember
that." This is coming from the girl who often reminds us of
the time my wife and I went on a trip and left her with grandma
a few years ago, when she wasn't even 2 yet.
With years, months, weeks, days, our calendar continually gives us
chances to reset, restart, adjust, or whatever else we need to do. As
silly as it is, even WWDC feels like a chance for me to start fresh.
As WWDC comes and goes each year, I'm always left feeling excited and
aspirational about building new apps. I've especially needed that
feeling this year.
I was really hopeful for 2021. I was excited to build on all the good habits and routines I had
developed. Well, one house construction project, a move, and a new
baby later, I felt like I had hit a brick wall. For a long time, the
only focus I was tracking in my
"Survive." I had stopped working on my app, exercising,
waking up early, and more. I felt like all I could do was not collapse
on myself like a dying star.
Things are finally starting looking up though. Over the past couple of
months, I've been able to carve out a bit of time to reintroduce
"regular" "exercise" and I've also started waking
up earlier again to work on my projects.
There's still hiccups, but each week is a chance to do better than the
last. WWDC has gotten me excited about working Focuses again and a
couple other app ideas I have. I'm now starting to feel like I don't
have enough time to do the things I want to do instead of not
having enough time to do the things I need to do. That's a
pretty good feeling.
We don't need to wait until the new year or next month to change. As
they say, there's not better time than the present.
Last night, I finished building the new
LEGO World Map
set. With over 11,000 pieces, it took me around 12 hours to complete.
Some of that time was while holding my 3 month-old or building with my
4 year-old. Still, it was a lot of time to simply shut my brain down
and build. It reminded me of how important it is to give your brain a
break every once in a while.
It's incredible how many problems are solved by going to bed and
taking a shower the next morning. I've had countless lightbulb moments
while showering, taking the trash out to the road, building LEGO, etc.
As a programmer, I've done a lot to make sure I take care of my hands
and wrists—good chair, mouse, keyboard, and desk. But, I've realized I
need to do more to take care of my mind. We equate sitting at the
computer as working. More and more though it seems that the more time
I spend away from my computer, the better and quicker my work is done
when I am at my computer. A refreshed mind is the best productivity
tool I know of. Want to get more done? Work less.
I have long believed that I have never and will never come up with an
original idea. Nothing is truly original. Every ideas has been had
before. In Steal Like an Artist, Austin Kleon talks about how
everything new builds on what has come before it. New ideas take bits
and pieces from other ideas and combine them into something new. If we
steal many good things from a variety of people, we are able to
combine them into something worthy of being stolen by someone else; We
create our own voice.
If nothing is original, what's the point? I've been having trouble
figuring this one out. Klein included a quote from André Gide:
Everything that needs to be said has already been said.
But, since no one was listening, everything must be said
I love this perspective. As the father of a four year-old, this hit
close to home. So, what's the point? There is someone who has not
heard what you have to say. Even if they have heard it before, they
may not have been listening the first time. If they are going to hear
it now, why not let it be from you?
While talking about how we are able to learn by surrounding ourselves
with people more talent, Kleon said "if you ever find that you're
the most talented person in the room, you need to find another
room." While I get what he's saying, it's too selfish of an
attitude for me. A better question than which room can I move to, is
how can help those in this room become more talented. I think
a lot can be gained from changing your perspective from "what can
I take?" to "what can I give?"
I'll end with my favorite quote included in the book from Jessica
Hische, an incredibly talented designer:
The work you do while you procrastinate is probably the work you
should be doing for the rest of your life.
This makes me look off into the mid-distance and think for a few
minutes every time I read it.
Steal Like an Artist is a quick, worthwhile read. I give it a
thumbs up. Thanks for reading, and as Klein recommends, I'm going to
go and enjoy and use my obscurity.