Wednesday, November 4, 2020

The Job I Never Imagined I'd Have

My "Day" Job
As I compose this article, I am sitting in a hotel room in Odessa, Texas. 

It is 7:37 p.m. on a Friday evening. 

I just finished putting my toddler son, Tyler, down for the night in his pack'n'play.

After ensuring his sippy cup was full of milk, I covered him with his favorite blanket, sang him a lullaby, gently stroked his head and face, expressed my love, and bade him goodnight. 

Somewhat predictably, he didn't go right to sleep. Not with his older brother and sister blissfully eyeing the Disney Junior channel on television (ahh... the simple joys of a hotel t.v.).

But that's okay.

Tyler didn't take a nap today, and I turned out all the lights except the television and computer screens, so it should only take a few minutes (fingers crossed) before he settles down into a sweet slumber for the next 11 hours or so.

Ahhhhhhhh....

          I LOVE this time of day!

                    Why?

                              Because I am a full-time stay-at-home parent.

                                          I build Freedom Focused on the side.

Lina at work in Sydney, Australia, August 2019
My intelligent, talented, and beautiful wife, Lina—who is lovely in every way, and whom I respect, admire, and absolutely adore—is a successful mechanical engineer who works full-time for a Fortune 100 Corporation. She has traveled to 13 different countries with her work. She also "commuted" back-and-forth to Australia for seven months in 2019-2020. Her work stint "Down Under" alone provided the kids and I with over 100 days all on our own.

I'm not gonna lie; that was an enormous challenge!

But this stretching experience—and others like them—also proved to be a fun adventure that provided us all with a tremendous amount of GROWTH, which is what Self-Action Leadership (SAL) is all about.  

The kids and I found out earlier today that Mama (Lina) would have to work tomorrow (Saturday). Thankfully, that doesn't happen very often in her new position in New Mexico. But when it does, the kids and I usually plan some kind of trip together to productively pass the time we would usually be spending with Mama on the weekend.

Off to "Daddy Fun Week"
Summer 2020

The kids and I are veteran travelers.

We have logged literally tens of thousands of miles together during days, weeks, and weekends when Mama had to work or was out-of-town with work. While our best times are those we spend all together (with Mama) as a complete family, our unique life circumstances have also afforded us with opportunities to create many special memories with just Dad and the kids—memories I cherish with all of my heart and soul, and that will only grow sweeter with the passage of time.

My kids are AMAZING travelers.

Give 'em an Amazon Tablet and a Happy Meal and they'll literally go all day (up to 600 miles) if our travel plans call for it, with hardly any complaint! And for all the Moms, pediatricians, and children's psychologists out there who are rightly uneasy about kids spending all day on a technological device, rest assured that such extremes occur only a few times a year on our occasional "long-hauls."  

The kids are also super low-maintenance on the road (thanks to tech devices, art supplies, and drive-up fast food windows). I actually have to stop to "go potty" more for myself than I do for them. It's a little embarrassing—and indicative of my love of fountain drinks—but demonstrative of my kids' steely bladders!     

Being a stay-at-home Dad is a WONDERFUL job; but it is not always an easy one.   

Growing up, I never dreamed that at age 41, I would be spending most of my daytime hours teaching, tutoring, tending, changing diapers, shopping, cooking, cleaning, taxiing kids to gymnastics, cub scouts, and taekwondo, washing clothes and dishes, ironing, sweeping and scrubbing the floor, vacuuming, playing with, reading to, and otherwise looking out for three small children under the age of eight. 

But that is the way things are for me in 2020; and it's been that way for the better part of the last FIVE (5) years! 

My present reality reminds me of the words of a famous Beatle:
 

"Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans."

John Lennon 

Picking up my oldest child and son, Tucker,
from school with Kara and Tyler in 2019.

This is not necessarily a bad thing. 

In fact, I wouldn't go back-in-time to change anything about my life—even if it were possible to do so.

Why?

Four (4) reasons.  

First:  I have done my very best to accomplish my hopes and dreams as a writer, speaker, thinker, teacher, and entrepreneur... all along the way. Furthermore, I have already been blessed with my share of AMAZING career opportunities and travel adventures that have taken me all over the English-speaking world as a published author and speaker. Indeed, if I died tomorrow, I wouldn't have any major regrets about my life and career to date.

Are there things I could have done differently or better along the way?

          Sure.

                    But no significant regrets.   

Second:  Because of reason #1, things still are turning out the way I had hoped; it is merely taking longer than I originally envisioned, which is okay.

Why is it okay?

Because entrepreneurial ventures, by definition, run on unpredictable timetables and trajectories. If you want certainty and predictability, don't become an entrepreneur! Get a job and become a salaried employee instead.

Moreover, as a self-action leader, I can only control myself. I can't control other people or the timetables of my long-term destiny. As such, if I do my very best each day, I consider myself to be continually and consummately successful as a self-action leader—regardless of my tangible external results (or lack thereof). 

I cannot control most things in this world. But I can personally do my imperfect best each-and-every day. And I have a deep and abiding faith that if I will simply do that, then everything else will eventually work out for the best in my life, relationships, family, and career.   

Third:  while I patiently work and wait for the second half of my career trajectory to evolve, I am enjoying and growing from the unspeakable blessing of being able to spend TONS of quality and quantity TIME with the people who matter most to me in all the world: namely; my wife and children. In the process, Life is turning me into a more patient, tender, compassionate, flexible, mature, capable, multi-skilled, and wise human being. Of course, I still have a LONG way to go! But I am a different (better) person than I was five years ago, and it is because of the unique challenges and opportunities I have been blessed to confront. 

Career opportunities—and careers in general—come and go.

          But Family is FOREVER.

                    What more could I possibly ask for?  

With my own stay-at-home Mama,
pregnant with her 7th child, my
younger sister, in 1981.

Fourth:  Some of the most INTELLIGENT, CREATIVE, CAPABLE, CARING, and otherwise AMAZING human beings I have ever known have been stay-at-home Moms. As such, the mere thought that I am even a shadow of the human being that some of those incredible women and mothers are makes me feel like a million bucks—and as true a success in life as one could ever rightly hope to be.

While an understanding of these realities helps me keep things in perspective, live in the moment, and enjoy the GIFTS of the PRESENT, it doesn't always make it easy.

I have always been a highly motivated, deeply driven, and unusually ambitious person. Because of this fact, I openly confess it is often difficult and frustrating when things don't happen, or otherwise work out, as quickly as I would like in my career—or anything else for that matter.

I have never been an "inherently patient" person, especially when it comes to other people's performances and life's endlessly enigmatic timetables. 

Fortunately, LIFE has provided me with plenty of opportunities to develop this elusive and important virtue—that pesky, but oh-so pertinent, 'P' word so vital to our long-term success as human beings and self-action leaders. Along the way, I still experience moments every day when I want to tear my hair out with irritation or frustration as I wend my way through a maze of challenges I never envisioned myself confronting.

But such is life...

          And it's all okay!

Why?

Because thankfully such moments are ultimately outweighed by other, better, moments where I am enveloped by the beautiful love and blissful companionship of my wife and children, or am otherwise reminded of my extraordinary blessings. And that is to say nothing of the absolutely priceless investment that children are in one's future! Thus, every time I feel tempted to complain about the difficulties of my present reality, the better angels of my nature urge me to take a deep breath and COUNT MY BLESSINGS instead.  

Holding the hand of my youngest child, son,
and namesake: Tyler Jordan Jensen, in 2019
After all, does not Life know better than I do about the way things really are, should be, and all questions concerning timing

And if so, should I not then balance my native ambition and drive with a wise and mature patience—in recognition that even the most ardent passions of the human heart and spirit must ultimately bow before the eternal edicts of Natural Law if human conduct, contribution, and achievement are to fully flower in their appropriate time and place? Moreover, and most importantly, should I not rejoice at the blessing of having so many opportunities to "Practice what I Preach" in the Present?   

The answer to these questions is a clear, resounding, and unequivocal "YES!"

As such, I strive my imperfect best to bridle all my passions—that I might become more disciplined personally and more caring interpersonally—and that my character may be sharpened to its finest possible edges and points over time.

It's not easy, and I'm far from perfect; but it is possible. And the rewards of following a disciplined and focused SAL journey through life are abundant—and worth every drop of blood, sweat, tears, and time required to obtain them.  

Do you, like me, find yourself in the midst of a protracted period of Waiting? An experience capable of engendering bitterness, frustration, discouragement, or other negative emotions—if you allow it? 

If so, I encourage YOU to avoid being too eager for what the future may hold. Don't miss the majesty of each precious moment of the PRESENT. Instead of always yearning for what tomorrow might bring, do your duty as you understand it TODAY—and enjoy THE PROCESS to the best of your imperfect ability.


"Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery;

today is a gift—that's why they call it the PRESENT."

—Attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson


And along the way—during those moments of difficulty and longing that will inevitably arise—I hope you might find as much truth, comfort, and peace as I have in the inspiring words of the naturalist and poet, John Burroughs, who once penned a masterpiece on this vital LIFE subject:  


WAITING

"Serene, I fold my hands and wait,

    Nor care for wind nor tide nor sea;

I rave no more 'gainst time or fate,

    For lo! my own shall come to me. 

I stay my haste, I make delays—

    For what avails this eager pace?

I stand amid the eternal ways

    And what is mine shall know my face.


Asleep, awake, by night or day,

    The friends I seek are seeking me,

No wind can drive my bark astray

    Nor change the tide of destiny.


What matter if I stand alone?

    I wait with joy the coming years;

My heart shall reap where it has sown,

    And garner up its fruit of tears.


The waters know their own, and draw

    The brook that springs in yonder height;

So flows the good with equal law

    Unto the soul of pure delight.


The stars come nightly to the sky;

    The tidal wave unto the sea;

Nor time, nor space, nor deep, nor high,

    Can keep my own away from me. 


Daddy's little Buddy... 
finally asleep!

In case you were wondering, YES... little Ty guy did eventually fall into a peaceful sleep that lasted for about 11 hours. Not as quickly as I had hoped... but soon enough to get a lot of quality work done on this article. And as much as I love the little darling, that is always one of the sweetest moments of each day!

The kids and I all had a good night's sleep followed by a delicious breakfast at Chick-Fil-A. After that we visited and scootered around a full-size replica of Stonehenge! It was soooo COOL! We then visited an epic children's playground and Presidential historical site in Midland before heading back home to Carlsbad, New Mexico and our beloved Wife and Mama.


Visiting a replica of Stonehenge
in Odessa, Texas
Another wonderful "Daddy Fun Trip" is now in the books.

I am a BLESSED man.     

Tune in NEXT Wednesday to learn more about one of the most important attributes a self-action leader can ever develop: COURAGE

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