June 7

This is Going to Sting a Bit!


Last week, I had a chat with our 16-year-old about his plans for studying for his final exams…here’s the lesson I learned during that chat:

After asking him to share his plans with me he remarked, “Dad, you only care about the grades on my report card, because it makes you look good!” 


Yeah…that stung! Then, I took a deep breath. Next, I acknowledged that I understood how he could feel that way. Lastly, I shared that I cared about his grades because I have a responsibility for how he turns out, but not for the reason he thinks. In fact, I didn’t start to figure this out until I was in my 40s. 

I shared with him that what I figured-out is that it’s NOT for me to look good as a parent – that’s called vanity. I care about his grades because I have a responsibility for how he turns-out in all vocations of his life. His progress as a student is just one of his vocations. In other words, how he turns-out as a whole person is my report card – that’s called fraternal humility.  

Vanity and fraternal humility may look the same from the outside, but the vibe is different. Vanity feels selfish, but fraternal humility feels selfless and it’s a complete flip in thinking about how to measure leadership in all of your vocations, not just your vocation as a parent. 

How are you serving others AND drawing greatness out of them at the same time? Does this vibe feel different to you? Is this measurement of leadership a bigger idea than how you were taught? It was for me.

And a short, honest conversation with my son suddenly made it real in a whole new way.

About the author 

Darren Smith

Darren Smith is Co-Founder of the Authentic Leadership Institute. He is a native Texan and a graduate of Dallas Jesuit and Texas A&M University. Over the past 25 years, Darren has visited 35 countries and led 100 strategy programs. He and his wife have five children.


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