All American

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Where did I go wrong? What could I have done better? I got this mug (pictured at the top) at Christmas from my 7-year-old daughter and I should be flattered, but instead … I’m troubled.

Did she walk right past the “#1 Dad” mug, and have to reach behind the “World’s Greatest Dad” mug to find this one? Did she at one point stand at the Secret Santa shop holding a “Superdad” and “All American Dad” mug in each hand and then decide, “well, he’s not exactly ‘super‘.”

I would’ve even been OK with “Dad of the Year” knowing I have to keep working hard and take nothing for granted.

What does “All American” even mean?

Or is it some sort of anti-immigration statement being made by this particular mug manufacturer or by my 7-year-old. And if so, who’s been letting my 7-year-old daughter watch Fox News?

And am I first team All-American or second team?

I know some of you might think I’m reading too much into it, but that’s what I do. I suppose I should just love it unconditionally as it came from a tiny 7-year-old heart that was so proud to give this to me because I love coffee and the mug says “Dad” on it. But coffee doesn’t taste as good when you know you’re not quite worthy of a “#1” or “Greatest.”

What now? What should I do now that I didn’t receive the proper praise and affection I wanted?

There’s a lesson here. And, yes, I know my 7-year-old wasn’t trying to send me a message. This wasn’t a performance review via a mug.

But what if it was?

It’s great to be recognized for your efforts and achievements. But sometimes you aren’t. And you have to be OK with that. If you are putting your heart and soul into something and nobody says, “thank you,” or, “golly gee we appreciate all your contributions to the team,” … we all need to learn to move on. And similarly, when we get a mug that says, “3rd Best Dad” or some review that doesn’t point out how great we are or how special we are, we need to learn from that. We can get better in those moments.

If you’re told you’re the “best” or the “greatest”, what then? Do you stop?

Again, my 7-year-old wasn’t firing a shot, but I can still use it as motivation. How can I ensure I’m “Best Dad Ever” or “#1 Dad” in the future? What if I spent more time playing board games or sitting and doing puzzles on Saturday morning instead of watching my son play Xbox while I click around on my iPad next to him? What if I tell my oldest daughter “I Love You” more than I currently do and what if instead of just saying, “I love you,” I mixed in a, “I love that you _______,” or, “I love you because you _______.”

Our next show-stopping performance doesn’t have to be to cross the Grand Canyon on a tight rope. It can be simple, little things. And just like it was a simple little thing that formed the Grand Canyon, one bucket of water at a time for thousands of years, so too will your life be as a “Greatest Dad Ever” or “Employee of the Year” or “Executive VP.”

Do something extra, today. Invent a new action today that will take a relationship or a project to a new level.

And have a cuppa coffee.

Follow me @donkowalewski on Twitter.

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