Thoughts of a Father: You Should Become Who You Want To Meet

One of the accusations levelled against me when Lucy and I got engaged was that I, an itinerant beach-bum, just wanted to marry her because she had a house. Despite the fact that she also had a mortgage, and two children, was entirely besides the point. There was, is, a perception that we marry someone because of what they bring to us.

My observation is that this is insidiously embedded in our culture. In the way we socialise our children. In gender discrimination. And ultimately this becomes the criteria we use to choose our life partner.

One of the most important things I want my daughters to learn is a healthy way to approach long term relationships. I remember my father advising me “Kissin' don't last, cookin' do.”

And that's the last advice I'd ever want to give. Not that we shouldn't value practical care over sex(ual attraction). But that we should care for ourselves rather than needing it from others.

Emergency Oxygen

Speak to any relationship counselor and they'll quickly get to the principle of 'You need to be happy in yourself, before looking for happiness from another.' What I call the 'Emergency Oxygen' principle. You know, put the oxygen mask on yourself before helping a fellow passenger.

Personally I've found this advice to be pretty unhelpful.

I fear there are far fewer people with healthy self-esteem than there are relationships. And mostly, self-esteem isn't an absolute as in, you have it or don't. Rather it's contextual, there are contexts where you can have great self-esteem, only for someone to walk in the room and shatter that.

So to only enter into a deep relationship when you achieve a unicorn state of permanent self-worth is an impossible ask.

The nugget of the principle is true, of course. That's why it's so popular. My experience puts some practical legs onto it though.

Not Why But What…

Ask yourself the question, “What do you want from your partner?”

Is it financial security? A house? Dare I say it, some form of status, like religious, or social, wealth or class status? Do you want someone to keep you safe? Someone to care for you, or (one day) your children?

Whatever that need is (or those if more than one) figure out how to provide that for yourself first.

That's it.

Anything you want, figure out how to get that yourself.

Independence

The first step to interdependence is independence.

If you want a husband (or wife) so you can buy a house, figure out how to buy your own house.

If you want a wife (or husband) to cook for you, figure out how to cook yourself.

If you don't believe that you want a partner for any of these things, get honest with yourself ūüôā

Admittedly this is an incredibly hard ask when you're young, poor, lonely, and wired for your sexual peak. But if you can figure this out, you'll be in a far better position to navigate life in a partnership. Especially if you're a woman (unfortunately).

Independence empowers you to bring your full self to the relationship. To give rather than take, or the ultimate route to mediocre disaster, 'give and take.' To add to your partners strengths. To become a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.

It frees you up from insecurity, fear, jealousy.

The Challenge

Of course there's a challenge of bringing 2 fiercely independent people to a relationship. But that's a far healthier and ultimately easier challenge to overcome than bringing one or two needy people into a relationship.

The Unspoken Challenges Becoming An Uber Driver

One Smiling Uber Driver
What You Don’t Consider Becoming an Uber Driver Credt: PCMag.com

As an avid Uber passenger in over 16 cities around the world, I continually interview drivers. I like to understand their motivations, business model, success, challenges, previous occupations (over half were taxi drivers) and what they love about the career choice.

As you’d expect there are many that do this as a part-time, or transition, gig. A way to keep the lights on between jobs, or to supplement another “not-quite-enough” income. Equally there are an increasing number who view it as an alternative to “working for the man” in a corporate job. Something they don’t need training for, or to undergo an interview.

The Cool

Whilst ‘flexibility’ scores highest in my not-quite-empirical research, ‘meeting interesting people’ comes a very close second. (Although admittedly they may be simply flattering me)

The Not So Cool

What is interesting though are the challenges or difficulties.

For many there’s the sudden need to learn business accounting. Tax implications and GST responsibilities.

But the biggest surprise to me, by far, is loneliness. For better or for worse, whether you do this well or not, working in an office is a corporate affair. From formal meetings to the ‘watercooler.’

Sure you meet interesting people driving an Uber. But different people. Every time.

For most people, that takes getting used to.

Life Lessons From Sailing: Just What You Need

One of the most powerful motivators to determine priorities is self-preservation. When you’re in the middle of an ocean, you have to have everything you need. But on a yacht with limited space, only what you need.

Which is why learning to victual (supply) a trans-oceanic yacht is a great way to teach priorities. And this is a great metaphor for business, relationships, and life in general.

Consider your next ‘journey.’ What will you need:

  • If everything is just smooth sailing
  • If things go bad and you have to weather storms
  • To help keep up morale
  • To ensure you remain healthy, nurtured and stimulated

What don’t you have room for?

What could you repurpose?

Take only what you need, but everything you need.

Why Australia Should Adopt National Service

This post follows on from my post on Resourcefulness as a key ingredient missing from todays generation.¬†Thinking through the issue some more, I believe there are a number of individual and national benefits for National Service. First, let me define what I do, and don’t mean though.

Military National Service

Map of Mandatory Military National Service
Map of Mandatory Military National Service

When most think of National Service, it’s in the guise of a period of Military Service.

That’s how I served in the South African Air Force for 2 years in ’85-’86. An entire generation of white, male, South Africans served between 1 and 2 years, from ’68 until ’89.

Although SA no longer requires National Service other countries, such as Switzerland and Singapore do still require military service for males. Israel demands this for females as well.

But I don’t necessarily think we should implement Military National Service.

The Social Benefits of Service

Imagine we restructured National Service to be an option to serve in any service that is good for the country, this could include:

  • Ambulance
  • Police
  • Fire Fighting
  • SES & RFS
  • Community Services like Social Work
  • Sports Education
  • Aged & Palliative Care
  • Road Traffic Enforcement, and yes,
  • Military Service

Just think of the benefits to our economy with young people learning key skills, and delivering crucial services throughout the country. Imagine capable, self-disciplined young people serving communities throughout the country, and representing us around the world.

This would also be a far more cost effective measure to integrate asylum seekers into the country than detention.

Requirement For Citizenship

In fact this would be a good test for citizenship as well. If you want to vote, or work in the government, you need to complete mandatory service for the country.

If you don’t, you’re welcome to be a Permanent Resident, pay taxes etc, but have none of the rights and protections of citizenship.

Global Perspective

I also think that every person should spend a significant time serving overseas. At least 6 months to a year. Australia could use this as an “in kind” portion of Foreign Aid.

From an aid perspective, well trained medics, police, engineers, and social workers are more effective than just dollars. The return is also far more tangible because for individuals, serving overseas changes your perspective from entitlement to empowerment. From selfish to grateful.

Individual Benefit

If I’m honest, I resented 2 yrs ‘wasted’ in the Air Force for a long time. Despite having a choice¬†to serve.¬†I chose to naturalise as a citizen so I could apply for pilot selection in the SAAF, with full knowledge that the price was two years service.

Much more recently I understand the positive impact national service plays in my life. In a large part because I’m acutely aware of the challenges many, if not most, young people experience¬†coming out of high school today.

These include:

  • Core life skills, like cooking, cleaning, and maintenance, navigating, ability to find food and shelter and more
  • Displine, particularly self-discipline
  • Healthy respect for others, including most importantly, self-respect – which leads to self-esteem
  • Team work, trust in colleagues, and understanding the importance of inter-dependence
  • Advanced skills that contribute to a career, depending on your¬†branch of service – for me recognising the importance IT would make contributed to my career
  • Physical fitness and mobility, that itself could turn around your own life, and the wellness of the nation.
  • And two years to mature and figure¬†what you want to do before wasting time and money at university. Even if that is a lesson in what you don’t¬†want to do ūüôā

In short, resourcefulness

If I were PM, I reckon this would be the most effective turn around for our economy.