Which of my traits do I hope my kids will pick up?
I don't have kids yet, and honestly I probably won't for a few years. But I think about my future kids fairly regularly.
I think about what my kids are going to be like, and how I'll be as a father. And every time I think about it, there's one question that stumps me: Which of my traits do I hope my children will pick up?
Some traits are obvious: I want my kids to be kind and well-mannered. I hope they'll be resilient, empathetic, emotionally intelligent, etc.
But some aren't so obvious, and that's what really get me thinking.
In particular, I wonder about my defining traits - the select few characteristics that make me who I am.
For example, I am extremely competitive.
Sports played a huge role in my childhood. And through the experiences that came with playing sports at a high level, I learned to love competition.
I hate losing at anything. Whether it's a championship football game, a college exam, or an insignificant game of ping pong at work; I've always been driven to do whatever I can to succeed.
This drive has been really useful. It's what led me to get into the college of my dreams, and to excel when I got there. It's also a key part of what makes me a perfect fit for my job.
As an engineer in a business development role, the killer instinct is critical. When there's a job on the line, and when I'm up against one of our competitors, I take it personally. I scrap and claw to do all I can to bring in the business for my company.
Competition is part of who I am. And I love it.
But I also see the other side of the coin. I know plenty of people who are far less competitive and driven than I am, yet they seem to be just as happy. I understand how someone could be content going to a comfortable job every day, and not dealing with the stress that comes from my constant desire to improve and perform. I see how not everything needs to be about winning and losing.
I feel the same way about my demeanor.
I'm a Stoic at heart. Well before I was introduced to the formal school of Stoicism through The Obstacle is the Way, I had already internalized many of the key principles.
At the deepest levels, I accept things for how they are rather than how I want them to be. I feel almost completely responsible for my own happiness. I don't worry about things that are outside of my control. I don't really get attached to material things.
I'm grateful that I think like this. It keeps me even-keeled, and I genuinely feel like I enjoy every day. The Stoic mindset is also a key part of the reason that I've been able to have a fair amount of success so far. It's the perfect mindset for athletics and business.
I understand that when something good or bad happens, I have to be able to accept it and move on. There's no point dwelling on a bad call or a missed opportunity, just like there's nothing to gain from celebrating a big play if I turn around and blow it on the next play. I have to accept things as they are, and do everything I can to improve the things within my control.
The Stoic mindset has helped me do all of these things. It has helped me stay rooted in the present, and is a big reason that I've been able to perform during key moments.
But I understand that Stoicism isn't for everyone. I see some of the drawbacks.
Emotions are a key part of life. I understand that. Yet ever since I could remember, my demeanor has led people around me to wonder whether I even feel emotions. To some extent, I think this is crazy. I believe that I feel emotions just as strongly as everyone else and that I'm just able to control my response better than some people.
But I recognize where these critiques come from, and it's not something that I take lightly. I often wonder whether I am in fact missing out by always remaining in control.
I also occasionally struggle to emphasize with people who respond to emotions more strongly than I do.
And this is where my dilemma comes in when I think about my future kids.
My competitive drive and Stoic mindset are two of my favorite traits. They're what make me who I am.
Yet I don't think I want to force these traits on my kids.
If they share the same competitive fire and drive that I do, I'll be thrilled. I'll support them every step of the way as they strive to get better each day. But I'll support them just the same if that's not the path they take. If they aren't interested in sports, and if they want to avoid competition, that'll be fine by me.
Same with Stoicism. I know I'd be proud watching my son or daughter embrace this calm and accepting mindset. But if that's not for them, so be it.
There are many different ways to be "successful," and I want my future kids to be able to pave their own path.