How To Balance Life & Fatherhood As An Entrepreneur- With Malik K Murray
How has fatherhood impacted your life?
When I think of the word “impact” in our society today, words like injustice, equal rights, life after quarantine, who’s Kim Kardashian dating and has Kevin Hart cloned himself to be in ten different places at the same time?! I didn’t necessarily equate fatherhood with impact. Well, that is until I became a father four years ago. Words can’t express the joy that fatherhood brings me, daily. I am forever changed by the birth of these two human beings. Both are completely different but display equal amounts of affection, unconditionally love and resilience. They love me even when I struggle with loving myself. That’s how fatherhood has impacted me.
Fatherhood introduced me to a concept of unconditional love without boundaries, borders, or barriers. I am more vulnerable, compassionate, and extremely patient with myself. There was a paradigm shift that happened as I experienced the birth of my two children. In that moment I became significant knowing that I would protect them, care for them, and provide them with endless amounts of love. But uncertain as to how I would succeed I just knew that it had to be done.
Pre-fatherhood looked very different from fatherhood. I existed in a space filled with toxic masculinity fueled by selfishness, arrogance, pride and a huge ego. The change came when with the birth of my beautiful, intelligent, kind, gentle, daughter with black girl magic. She changed me. Then my cool, calm, and collective observant son entered the world 18 months ago. These two little humans stripped away all of the bad pride and replaced it with good pride. My limited views of the world no longer serve a purpose as a co-leader and father in my home. These little people make me a better human being naturally. I believe that’s impact at its best.
Lastly, I remember when mediocrity was normalized and wasting time was a luxury. No more! That is no longer an option in my life. Time management has become my best friend, my big homie that keeps me on schedule. Without it, I would be running in circles lost trying to get organized. When I’m too tired to go to the gym at 3am, I still get a workout in. Followed by a 6am 3 mile run. Why? Because I want to be more energetic, enthusiastic, and healthier. Dedicating myself to showing up for my children has been rewarding but challenging. However, it’s worth it. Fatherhood has an impact that can fundamentally change the heart and mindset of a man.
How should one step into fatherhood?
The best advice that I received was,”Fatherhood is not a trend, it’s a lifetime commitment of perseverance and service to your child”. That’s advice for anyone who is stepping into fatherhood. I’d also tap in and keep tapping in daily to the core of who your children are and who they’re becoming. It’s a daily battle to understand the lifestyle of a toddler in my household. They often go left when we say go right but we must be there to support and guide them. Everyday is a brand new day filled with countless opportunities to show up. I don’t think anyone is truly ready or prepared for the journey of fatherhood. However, I do believe that fathers must find a way to be consistent in being there for their child with their flaws and all.
Advice that I often give to new fathers is, “become a student of your child!’ You must learn with them, grow with them, and hurt when they hurt. That shows them how much you love and care for them. Trust me, they’re watching your every move and imitating the things that you do.
On the structural side, I wholeheartedly believe that it’s our duty to provide a safe space for our children. We must cultivate a loving culture filled with trust, patience, and respect. Oftentimes many men don’t express their love outwardly. That doesn’t mean they don’t love their children, it’s just a different form of showing love.
As a new dad I’d encourage you to choose the type of father you desire to become. It all begins with you! Starting out in the womb as mom is carrying your bundle of joy, make time daily to read/talk/sing to your child. Covering our children spiritually, emotionally, and physically is a responsibility that many of my counterparts miss. Giving our undivided affection and attention can strengthen the bond between father and child. When your offspring hears the sound of your voice, it’s a great feeling.
Always remember your voice and presence matters to your child’s development. I’ve had the privilege to have spoken to several high level performers from professional athletes, executives, artists, and entrepreneurs whose philosophy revolves around how much money they have. While their family and personal lives are on the brink of bankruptcy. Don’t be the dad who makes promises and doesn’t follow through with them for your children.
Tomorrow may never come and your child’s today is filled with empty promises which will leave scars. Of course establish a financial fund and legacy for your child. But also building a strong foundation for your child built on principles is important. That includes having a safe place for your child to flourish emotionally, socially, and spiritually. Finding your personal balance will give you a compass that helps you go north.
What advice would you give to a new father who is an athlete or entrepreneur?
Please proceed with extreme caution ⛔️ these young athletes & entrepreneurs bite, hit below the belt, and they don’t play fair. Enter at your own risk! To the new father that’s an athlete, be the teammate that everyone wants to take the last shot in game 7 of the finals. Translation, show up, show up, show up. If you stay ready you don’t have to get ready. Stay ready for practice, off-season, pre-season, small games and big games. Which are everyday in your life as a father. Find ways to consistently show up and show out for your child.
That’s the level of responsibility, commitment, and resilience we must have stepping into fatherhood. If you don’t remember anything else I’ve said, please remember this point. Shoot your shot and keep shooting it over and over again until you make more shots than you miss. That’s a philosophy that sets you up for success and effectiveness as a new father.
Be mindful that you’re not always going to make every shot. Even the GOATS like Kobe, MJ, and LeBron have all taken tens of thousands of shots that they’ve missed. But they’re watching tape of the games, studying and learning from the missed shots. During the next game they’re showing up fresh ready to take a thousand more shots. Fatherhood is no different.
Learn from your mistakes by acknowledging them then using them as stepping stones to elevate your game on and off the court and field. Little things matter to a child especially at the toddler age. All they want is your time, attention and affection. Leaping into fatherhood with this philosophy will set you apart as a dad who cares and shows up. It is not just about being a high performer in your chosen sport. It’s also about being a high performer in your child’s life.
To the budding and seasoned entrepreneur, I say this to you, balance, balance, and more balance is the key to success. Find your balance in this imbalanced world of uncertainty. Then work it over and over and over again. Wash, rinse and repeat. Your child deserves to experience the balanced version of you as much as possible.
If you’re traveling often closing the deals, communicate to your child how much you love and miss them. Show up virtually for the spelling bees, recitals, and soccer games. Make it a priority to go out your way to be there for them. Trust me when I say that your career will soar when your children are covered with your love, presence, and protection.
What three things have you learned from your children about fatherhood?
Lesson #1: Become a Master Listener
I’ve learned to become surgical as I master the art & science of listening. Let’s go back to becoming a student of your child and getting schooled regularly. In order to have effective communication and build significant trust, listening skills are held to the highest regard. This lesson shapes me as a young father, partner, businessman, and as a decent human being. The more I listen with an open heart, the better communicator I become.
I’ve fallen short and missed the mark many times and will miss it again tomorrow. I’m ok with that because I’m not here on earth to be perfect or live in a perfect world. I’m committed to listening, learning, and loving them. This journey to become a master listener is very challenging and draining at times. But I lean in to my commitment to become a master listener. That helps me with persevering through the trials and tribulations of fatherhood.
Lesson #2: Find your Personal Balance:
Balance, balance, and more balance amidst the busyness, hustle, and uncertainty. Or as we say in martial arts, find your chi and tap in. When I’m speaking or advising professional athletes, actors, high level executives and entrepreneurs the first question I ask them is, how’s the family? You’d think that we’ve enteredDefcon 1 with their uncomfortable body language.
Among the many successful people I spend time with, they struggle with finding work life balance. Their businesses are soaring when their family is bankrupt and decaying daily. I believe they haven’t found a healthy balance in this area. My unwavering commitment to showing up for my children is a principle that I will not compromise. It doesn’t matter how well or poorly my business is performing. I’m all in as a father.
Lesson 3: You don’t have to be perfect, just show up!
I live in sunny Southern California and love taking my children for walks on the beach, hiking, and running at the Rose Bowl. On a Monday afternoon my three year old daughter told me she wanted to go running after school on Thursday. I said, “absolutely baby girl, we owt!” Thursday afternoon rolled around after a very long day of work, meetings, projects, and many more activities. My daughter walks in from school dressed and ready to go.
I said, “babygirl dad is tired today, can we go tomorrow instead?” Her joy fell to the ground she was about to cry but said to me in the saddest face ever, “sure daddy!” I was crushed! At that very moment I realized this lesson. Every circumstance and situation is not going to be perfect, ideal, or even comfortable. But my word has to be my bond if she’s going to trust that I’ll be there for her. So I laced up my running shoes and we went to the Rose Bowl. A perfect example of sacrificing myself to serve my child.