1. New Year’s Resolutions for UNCOMMEN Dad’s

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    Welcome to 2017! I’m not big on New Year’s resolutions. As a matter of fact, my standard resolution is not to make any. How’s that for a resolution?

    However, as I watch my two children, who are 5 and 2, get a little bit bigger and a little bit older each year, I keep having this thought in my mind that there is more I could be doing as a dad. Other than my wife, my kids are the most important thing for me. But does my time or attitude when I am with them reflect that? Or do I act like they are more of an inconvenience, always shuffling them in their mother’s direction? 

    So, after some careful consideration and a hard look at how I spent time with my kids in 2016, I have come up with four resolutions I would like to follow in an attempt to be a UNCOMMEN Dad for 2017. Please note that in no way am I trying to tell you what you should do or how you should raise your kids, but I hope this encourages you to set some resolutions of your own. The following is solely from the heart and mind of an average dad:

    Ten Extra Minutes a Day: We all wish we could spend more time with our kids. However, we also have a lot of other obligations pulling on us, constantly. Long work days and sometimes even longer work weeks of providing for our families leave many of us too exhausted at the end of the day to find that extra time that we should be investing in our kids. I have committed to giving the ten minutes of when I first get home to my kids. It’s easy to say “no” to looking at their school artwork or even roughhousing with them. A simple daily commitment on workdays can add up to an approximate 2,400 minutes, or just over 40 hours of extra time with your kids each year. And that 40 hours each year will change your child’s life forever.

    Play board/card games with your kids: One of my biggest regrets so far as a dad is not taking the time to play more board games with my kids. As I look back, some of my favorite memories with my dad were playing classic games like Clue, Monopoly, Sorry or Crazy Eights. Playing games teaches kids strategy, competition, handling winning & losing and on top of that, it creates a bond with your children. I always looked forward to playing games with my dad growing up. 

    Teach them about the meaning of life: By far the greatest responsibility I have as a father is to ensure my children are raised with the same spiritual principles that I believe in. I want to be sure and confident they know what I believe regarding my faith, however not overly convinced that I assume they know what I know and don’t need to be reminded of that. They say they early years are the most impressionable. In fact, most kids make a faith decision before they are 18. It’s important that you spend regular time seeking out moments to discuss the meaning and purpose of life.   

    Make sure they know mom is #1 in my life: My wife and I rarely argue in front of our kids. We have made an adamant attempt never to raise our voices at each other in front of our little ones. There are plenty of other things my son and daughter need to see me do on a daily basis for their mother. While I am going to commit to spending my first 10 minutes home with the kids, my first action when I get home regardless of what happened that day, is to kiss and hug my wife and make sure my kids see it. Sure it will embarrass them when they get older. But I want my kids to grow up seeing their dad hug and kiss their mom, tell her that he loves her, tell her that he thinks she is the most beautiful woman in the world and pray for her. If my kids grow up knowing their spouse is the most important earthly relationship in their life and invest themselves in that commitment, I will consider my parenting a huge success. 

    So these are my resolutions. What are yours? Feel free to comment below either on the blog or Facebook. Here’s your Challenge: Write Down your Dad Resolutions for 2017. Share them with your spouse or close friend to keep you accountable this year. We can all use more ideas to be UNCOMMEN Dads in 2017.

    About the Author: Sam Casey is the Managing Partner at Banyan Creative based in Matthews, NC. He is breaking his tradition of making no resolutions, to make a few resolutions to be a better dad in 2017.

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  2. Finishing the Year Strong

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    As 2016 comes to a close and we enter into the holiday season, we know that both in work and life finishing strong is essential. Success in life as a man is not measured where you start; it is where you finish.   

    About 12 years ago and approximately 15-20 pounds ago, I was a college soccer player for an elite program. Fitness was always a huge priority for our team, and we always joked that we were one the best “track teams” in college soccer. Even though we didn’t have the best talent, we always seemed to have a team with a lot of depth, and we could outlast teams physically and mentally. One of the ways our mentality was developed was in the tradition of the 5 Minute Mile. Every player was challenged to try to make that time, and it was an “unofficial” gauge of our overall team fitness in preparation for the coming season.

    Our coach would repeatedly tell us, “Guys, anyone can start strong, but very few finish strong. Don’t bleed into the finish.”

    “Don’t Bleed into the Finish. Finish Strong.” became a tagline for our team and something we would repeat over and over again until it was ingrained in our minds. I was never an exceptionally talented runner, so during the summers, I would spend time on the track several times a week to be ready to make the time. The first night of training camp we would report to the track for 5 Minute Mile. Little did I know that it would become a framework on how I viewed nearly every challenge to persevere and finish strong.

    Lap 1

    We would all start together, and there was a general sense of excitement, but also nervousness for the coming 5 minutes of pain ahead. We would line up and hear our coach saying “Ready, Set, Go!” And off we went. The key in the first lap is finding a comfortable pace that would allow you to find a rhythm and stay the course. Run too fast, and you risk burning up all your energy and blowing out. Run too slow, and you would put yourself in a position that was too far back and you would likely not be able to regain the pace as your legs would tire later in the run. 

    When you start to undertake a big challenge requiring endurance, make sure you prepare appropriately and operate at a pace you can maintain. Often in a work environment, the first quarter is marked by a lot of planning and lofty goals. Being able to achieve those goals and break that down into small steps is essential to finishing strong. Don’t overdo it early on.

    Lap 2

    On the second lap, it became more apparent how our legs were feeling and whether or not you ran the first lap at the appropriate pace. The second lap was a time to make adjustments and if you are smart, finding someone you could follow that would help you maintain that right rhythm. As you round the turn back home to complete the second lap, we would often begin to be able to know if your preparations paid off, or whether the next two laps were going to be an exercise in agony. 

    As you find yourself in the middle of a challenge in the year, make sure you pick your head up and align yourself with people that can help you stay on track with your goals. Self-assess and be aware of what you can physically and mentally do. While there is a lot of inspirational quotes out there about pushing as hard as you can all the time, the reality is that a UNCOMMEN man knows his limits and manages his energy appropriately. Youthful energy is nice, but it is fleeting. Maybe the second lap for you requires holding back a bit to be able to maintain the pace to the finish.

    Lap 3

    They say it’s the hardest lap of the mile. Lactic acid starts to build up in the legs, maybe you start to get some tightness or cramping, or maybe you feel great. But for most of us, it was time to face the music. You are halfway, but you are starting to pay the price for the pace. Self-doubt would often creep in and thoughts like “Can I do this? My legs are on fire” or “Maybe it's time to slow down or quit.” Now is the time to persevere and put yourself in position for the final lap. Counter those thoughts of self-doubt with encouragement and truth.

    Throughout the year or even throughout your day, you are faced with setbacks and moments of self-doubt. For me, I find myself in a few of these seasons throughout the year. The key is meet self-doubt with the truth about who you are and where you want to go. Remind yourself of why you are doing it, and often you will find the motivation to press forward in the face of adversity. Push through.   

    Lap 4

    Entering into the 4th lap is when gaps seemed to open up between individual runners. Some of my teammates seem to kick it into another gear, while others pace appeared to slow or even completely drop off. The 4th Lap was the time to let it all hang out. We had all worked this hard to be here, and it was a decision to push through with everything we had to cross the finish line. What always amazed me was that certain guys would make their final lap their fastest. They had left enough in the tank so that when others were too tired, that is when they would make their move. 

    As you come into the final lap of 2016, be encouraged that regardless of where you started the year or whether you achieved all your goals, to push hard through the finish. Give it all you have. It will do as much for your final result, as it will for your character.   

    Be UNCOMMEN. Finish Strong.

    About the Author: Sam Casey is the Managing Partner at Banyan Creative based in Matthews, NC. He wishes he could still run a 5 Minute Mile, but doing his best to finish 2016 strong.

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