Episode 235 Transcript (Mark Miller)

Episode 235 (Mark Miller)

Podcast Intro [00:00:01] Being a great father takes a massive amount of courage. Instead of being an amazing leader and a decent dad, I want to be an amazing dad and a decent leader. The oldest dad in the world gave you this assignment, which means you must be ready for it. As a dad, I get on my knees and I fight for my kids. Let us be those dads who stop the generational pass down of trauma. I want encounters with God where he teaches me what to do with my kids. I know I’m going to be an awesome dad because I’m gonna give it my all. 

Jeff Zaugg [00:00:38] Gentlemen, welcome back to dadAWESOME, today Episode 235, Mark Miller from Chick-Fil-A joins us. He’s written a dozen books. His most recent book is called Smart Leadership. We’re going to talk about all the parallels to the dad life from leadership, writing for leaders. But man on the leadership home front, the dad life, so many applicable sides. He’s been at Chick-Fil-A for decades. He was like employee number 17 at Chick-Fil-A. He’s got two boys. His older son, Justin, leads an amazing, leads an amazing organization that serves in Africa in the area of AIDS, he’ll talk about that. And then his younger son, David, is has special needs, cerebral palsy and autism and he talks about the journey of raising his amazing son, David, and just how David has impacted their family for good and for really changed all their lives, all their trajectory. So, so grateful for this conversation. I want to remind you guys, Fathers for the Fatherless we have a couple deadlines coming up. The end of July is your last chance to join our front range team, we’re riding out of Loveland, Fort Collins area down to Boulder and back. It’s our second year in the front range of Colorado. Pastor Mark Batterson is joining us, he’s flying out from Washington, D.C. It’s his second year partnering with us to do that ride. So, so sign up by the end of July if you want to join our Colorado Fathers for the Fatherless team and then our Arizona team in Phoenix, Scottsdale area. That team at the early deadline is the end of July to get in at the lower price point to join our team, again, it’s our second year in Arizona riding as well. So a couple heads up, a couple of deadlines coming your way. New York team, I don’t recall right now, but that deadline is coming up as well, f4f.bike, it’ll be in the show notes. So let’s jump right in though. This is my conversation, episode 235 with Mark Miller. I’d love to just start with you telling us about your family. So the current chapter, I know you’ve been married 40 years now, so lthat’s a congratulations to celebrate that 40 year, but talk about your boys, being a grandpa, just kind of this current chapter of fatherhood. 

Mark Miller [00:02:47] Okay, current chapter. I have two sons, Justin and David. Justin is 34. He’s married to Lindsay. And we have three grandchildren Fynn who is two, Logan, who’s four, and Addie who just turned seven. Yes, they’re, they’re a lot of fun, no doubt about that. And then I have a younger son named David, who’s 32. David has some challenges. He has a combination of cerebral palsy and autism. So although he’s 32 mentally, cognitively, he’s closer to 12 months. So he’s he’s got his own issues. I tell folks, he marches to his own drummer and we just try to hear the beat. 

Jeff Zaugg [00:03:33] That’s incredible. And what what has brought joy recently, whether, you know, David or Justin or the grandkids, a moment of, like this was a fatherhood or grandpa moment of joy recently. 

Mark Miller [00:03:45] It may feel a little pedestrian to some of your group, but we are so blessed that the grandkids live in Atlanta with us. And so we see them often. Well they had been out of town. They had been visiting the other grandparents in Texas for three weeks and we had a joyful reunion. It felt like we hadn’t seen them forever and they were hugging us and we were hugging them and we kept telling each other how much we missed each other. And when you have a two year old say, I missed you, that that that touches a special place. And so that was just last week, they came back in town and we were delighted to spend the day with them when they got back home. 

Jeff Zaugg [00:04:27] It’s amazing sometimes the perspective of seeing now through your son’s eyes. You’re seeing fatherhood through like you’re watching him step into that journey. What ways is Justin like, “he’s getting it right.” You’re like, good on your way to go get like what things you want to celebrate about him being an intentional dad. 

Mark Miller [00:04:46] I would just like to celebrate that he loves Jesus and he’s raising kids that do as well. He’s actually my hero. Just a little bit of a side bar here. He runs an AIDS organization in Africa and he’s been doing this for 14, 15 years. He started it when he was in college. And he’s got about 98 centers in East Africa with about 300 staff. And he, he’s my hero for sure. The organization is called. Yeah, it’s called Untold, Untold. 

Jeff Zaugg [00:05:22] Untold. 

Mark Miller [00:05:24] .org. Yeah. Yeah. So it’s amazing. It’s amazing. 

Jeff Zaugg [00:05:28] So yeah, I mean, one of my dreams is to be like you where I tell people, “Hey, my daughters are my heroes.” Like, I just love that perspective. Just watching even the shine your eyes, being like, “my son’s my hero.” Let’s steer over to talking about your younger son, David. 

Mark Miller [00:05:46] Yeah. David.

Jeff Zaugg [00:05:47] Yeah. Just the journey of, I think you mentioned so cerebral palsy and autism, is that is that correct? 

Mark Miller [00:05:53] And that’s the diagnosis. Yeah. 

Jeff Zaugg [00:05:55] And the journey of even when did you know and how was that journey like as a young as a young dad. 

Mark Miller [00:06:02] It was it was just challenging. I mean, there was just so much we didn’t know. They didn’t have a diagnosis early. They called it developmental delay, which is fine. I mean, I think that’s a thing, when they don’t know what to call it, they said sometimes you can even look at a child and figure out what their issues might be and other times you can discern that through testing. But there’s another third, fully a third, when they know there’s a problem, they don’t know what it is. And so in the beginning, they always call that developmental delay, because sometimes those things work themselves out. And then at the point when they realize they’re not going to work themselves out, it’s typically called cerebral palsy, which basically means something’s wrong with your brain. And there is a wide spectrum. There are some people who are very highly function, functioning who have cerebral palsy and then there are people who are further back than David. So it’s a broad, broad, broad continuum. So they gave that diagnosis after, the second diagnosis after the fact, he was just delayed. And then as he got a little bit older, he began exhibiting some of the physical characteristics and attributes of people who have autism. And so they bolted that on. But it’s it’s in David’s case, it’s it’s a very broad diagnosis. So we just we love him. We pray, we love him and we pray. And and we again, we try to hear the beat. Right. He’s marched into his own drummer, for sure. 

Jeff Zaugg [00:07:40] You said cognitively like a 12 to 18 month old? Is that, is that right? 

Mark Miller [00:07:45] Mm hmm. 

Jeff Zaugg [00:07:46] My youngest daughter is 14 months old and I spent almost 2 hours with her this morning before my other daughters and my wife was awake. And thinking about that phase is, is delightful, but it’s also a hard phase of dad life is the young, they can’t communicate, speak. So the idea is he 32 today? The idea of suspended in an adult like like just growing up with the same level of like connection verbally and connection intellectually. I just can’t really wrap my mind around; what would what advice, because there’s a lot of dad young dads who listen in, some that are walking this journey. Well, how would what would you share with, and with me, too? Like we all want to know how to how is this journey and how can we, like, step into the unknowns with every situation different, every, you know, beautiful young son or daughter with all the different, you know, like they’re amazing, but yet it’s so different than the journey I’m walking. What advice would you give? 

Mark Miller [00:08:48] Well, my advice is if you’re the dad to support the mom, because, you know, I don’t I don’t know what life circumstances these folks might be in. In our case, she was staying home with him, which was necessary and appropriate, and that’s fine. And then at some point, he he began to go to school and, today, programs. But as the mom she, even to this day carries much of the responsibility and she’s caring for an infant for decades. And so I have really tried to increase my support and involvement and participation maybe more than I would have or maybe more than I did with Justin, because Justin could get himself dressed. Justin could feed himself. And, you know, David can’t do those things. And so I have just tried to be very intentional to this day, but I don’t do it well enough. But I’m, I’m always trying to figure out how can I serve her as she serves him. We went for a long time when he wouldn’t even let me feed him, which was she says that’s a joke. She says, I bribed him. So she would have been the one that always got to feed him. But he’s now he’ll let you let me feed him. So I’m actually trying to help feed him and some other things that are again, very kind of mundane, routine things, but it’s just something else that you actually have to do. And so I think my advice, again, is a lot of prayer for sure. But David’s good. He’s he’s happy, he’s content. I’m, I’m trying to take care of her on the journey as much as I’m trying to take care of David.

Jeff Zaugg [00:10:34] In my research for this conversation, I heard a story about you and David going to church and the drive, you not making it because of… Would you tell that story? Because it’s just it’s heart wrenching, but it’s beautiful, too. 

Mark Miller [00:10:47] Well, when David was little even like when he got older, he got to about age 12, which may or may not have been the beginning of puberty. We don’t actually know how that was all going on, but he got where he would be very physically aggressive. And one Sunday morning, Donna had gone, I think, to work in the nursery or something and David and I were going to come to this the second hour, and he just beat me up so bad going to the church and I had blood all over. It was my blood, not his. And so I called her and I said, We’re not we’re not coming today. And she’s what’s that? I said, Well, I got blood all over me. And she said, Is David okay? I said, Yeah, and I am too. You know, she was asking about David. I say, Yeah, he’s not bleeding, but I am. He just beat me up, you know, on the way to church. And so we went back home and we didn’t go to church that Sunday. 

Jeff Zaugg [00:11:41] You know, the reason I wanted you to hear that story, Mark, is from my, you know, ten books that you’ve written and an executive at Chick-Fil-A, one of the very first employees, and just the way that you’re coaching training leaders in all spheres around the world. I did not know this part of your story and I hopped on your Instagram, and as I was scrolling through, I just found a, like it’s just a, it changed immediately shifted how I think about that journey had to have so many layers that I just had, I could, you know, we could spend three days asking questions and just to understand everyone’s journey is different. But my respect for you went up six levels, right?

Mark Miller [00:12:20] Thank you. Thank you. 

Jeff Zaugg [00:12:22] Well, I just see the love, the deep love that you have for your family. And yet you’re still completely like in this sector of professional. Like the opportunities were probably limitless. Right. And yet and I know you guys moved homes through this to be closer to a care, a school in all this. Like so from a again outside perspective, it just that’s the kind of dad I want to be that just says, hey, whatever the cost, if I have to drive home and get a new shirt on like I’m that kind of dad. So how would you just like…

Mark Miller [00:12:56] Well let me, let me, let me give the end of that story, the folks at school during this season. They told us that David was was like getting physical with people and they said, what kind of drugs is he on? And we said, drugs. He’s not on any drugs. And they went maybe he should be. And so there was the season when we actually found some medication that helped kind of mellow him out just a little bit. He’s no longer on those drugs, but that was a season. But we didn’t even know that, that was a thing. I mean, so that helped us move through that. And he is he’s a pretty mellow and chill guy today. 

Jeff Zaugg [00:13:36] Yeah. Okay. The 32 years of being a dad to David and then Justin, who’s a few years older, I believe, like his life trajectory likely is different because of a younger brother with cerebral palsy and autism. Your wife, your marriage, 40 years likely different because of these 32 years of raising David. How what are some of the more macro like you see this is different about Justin or this is different about you because of having a son that’s walked this journey? 

Mark Miller [00:14:05] Well, Justin has talked about a big part of his ministry, he thinks in his heart for a ministry was was formed by living with David, is he, he developed a place in his heart where he wanted to care for those and minister to those that had no voice. And I think there’s a direct connection between what he’s doing in Africa and, and his time with David. As far as my wife and I, I think we’ve, I’ll speak for myself, I won’t speak for her. I’ve prayed a lot more and I’ve served a lot more. Again, I’ve intentionally tried to lean in on what I can do as a husband and a father, and I know there’s so much more I can do in that regard. But but I think that is different. And I would say it is better. I’m a better human being, a better husband, a better follower of Jesus. I’m I’m better all the way around because of David. I mean, it’s I get to live with a glimpse of unconditional love. Because David, he’s never, this side of heaven, he’s never going to tell us he loves us. But that’s okay. You know we love him. 

Jeff Zaugg [00:15:25] Yes. If you could go back 32 years in time and tell a handful of your friends, your buddies who were also young dads, if you could tell them something that would have just maybe helped them have a perspective of how to care, how to how to be a friend to you in those that first ten years of raising David, what things would you want to tell those other dads? 

Mark Miller [00:15:49] You know, we had such a great support network through our family and our friends and our church. I don’t, I don’t know what different I mean, what we would do different. I mean, I remember even at our church, somebody I don’t know who realized that, Donna or I were always missing worship because there was no place for David. And our pastor’s wife said, “hey, I’ll I’ll sit with David so you guys can go to worship.” She did that for years and it’s like, that’s pretty cool, right? I mean, somebody that saw a need and and then nothing that, you know, had to be dealt with, right? I mean, it was okay, but but we had a lot of support even in those early, early years. And so I’m not sure what I would have asked those dads and and friends and moms to do differently. They just they just loved us and they love David. And they kept an arm’s length from David because they knew he might wail on them. But yeah, it was it was a good season. 

Jeff Zaugg [00:17:03] I’m glad to hear that answer, that there’s not actually tangible things they could have done differently. So that’s that’s that’s a that’s a gift. That’s a gift. Let’s let’s talk about adventure and how specific to you and Justin adventure has been a part of your story and maybe new challenges would you it doesn’t have to be hit all the stories but just like why why was that who who initiated was it him or you? And then, yeah, tell us about it. 

Mark Miller [00:17:29] We decided years and years ago that we wanted to try to do something every year that would stretch us and challenge us. And he has come up with some of the ideas. I’ve come up with some of the ideas. We’ve elaborated on others, you know, and we’ve we’ve climbed mountains and became certified scuba divers, and the craziest thing we’ve probably ever done, from my perspective, was when he said, “Hey Dad, let’s run a marathon.” And I’d never I’d never run to the mailbox. And I said, you know, I said, okay. And so we did. So I tell people he’s either trying to keep me young or kill me, but I know sometimes I’m not even sure. But we just we want to keep growing. We want to keep stretching. We we want to do hard things together and grow through the experience. And so. 

Jeff Zaugg [00:18:28] Yes. Was that college or before college you started doing those things? 

Mark Miller [00:18:32] We did a little bit before college, his high school graduation, we he and I climbed Mount Kilimanjaro. And we had done a few things before that kind of a little lower on the adventure scale and not everything is that crazy. But, but we’ve done some some interesting things. 

Jeff Zaugg [00:18:51] It feels like it’s extended. I mean, now, even knowing you guys are speaking together and you’re sharing on this podcast about the ministry, the organization he leads, like it feels like it’s extended closeness, these yearly challenges, adventures. Is that, would that be accurate? 

Mark Miller [00:19:08] We have we have continued to do them and it is getting more difficult. He’s got three kids at home and I want to honor that and he wants to honor that. One of the things he wants us to do is climb Aconcagua, the highest peak in South America. It’s like 22,000 feet or whatever. And but it takes three weeks. And so I’m, I’m not sure that we’re going to get a hall pass for three weeks, so we’ll probably have to come up with something else. And I’ve explained to him that my window is closing to, as these adventures, as the mountains get taller, I remind him I’m getting older and so far I’ve been up for every challenge that he’s thrown my way. 

Jeff Zaugg [00:19:46] I love that. And speaking of throwing challenges your way, I know one of his passions is ultimate Frisbee and the intersection of a passion, a skill that you have and hit. Would you describe how photography and Frisbee came together? 

Mark Miller [00:20:02] Well, let me quickly say, I started throwing Frisbee over 50 years ago. Well, right after it was invented, somebody introduced me to Frisbee. And so I introduced him to Frisbee when I got pictures of him when he was 18 months old throwing a Frisbee. So cool. Frisbee has kind of been in our family for a long time. And then when he got to college, he wanted and he and I played Ultimate Frisbee when he was in high school together and pick up kind of stuff. But we played a lot and we would go down and other guys and we play. And so when he got to college, he went to Vanderbilt and he was on their ultimate Frisbee team. Well, I’m a photographer, and so I became the team photographer. And over four years I probably photographed 100 or 150 ultimate matches. I traveled with the team. So it was a blast. 

Jeff Zaugg [00:20:55] So well, my next question maybe I’ll go a different direction it’s an abstract question. Sometimes your models have nothing that connects the dots here, but maybe it will, maybe it will. Is the parallels between photography and fatherhood. What makes a great photographer and element aspects of that and fatherhood? Are, can you connect any dots? Is there any that you’re like, Oh, this is maybe some ways that they parallel? 

Mark Miller [00:21:22] So the best photographers are patient. Some of the photographs that I have that I would I would say are pretty good photographs, I had to wait for it. Right. Another thing is that I think fatherhood affords you a lot of opportunities, a lot a lot of trips to the plate, you know, a lot of interactions. And the best photographers shoot a lot of pictures. The more pictures I shoot, the better photographer I am. And I think the more I engage with with the kids and the grandkids, because sometimes I’m not going to get it right and sometimes I’ll get it partially right. But if you keep if you keep shooting, keep, keep, keep tripping that shutter. I think you can get better and better. And if if not through intentional effort, just luck. Just the odds, right. That if you engage more, you’re going to you’re going to get it right. Keep keep shooting. That’s what I tell folks that want to take better pictures. Take more pictures.

Jeff Zaugg [00:22:26] Well, so okay, so repetition and patience. Are those the two principles? Did I get that right?

Mark Miller [00:22:31] Okay. You said it better than I did. 

Jeff Zaugg [00:22:35] Yeah, well, well, you proved it, though, before when you said you went to all those matches, 160 some odd matches like, that does not help with upward trajectory on the career side. Author, leader, executive, like that many matches away like does not help with that. Like how do you, how would you coach me and all of our listeners around the decisions to make a commitment like that to a college, a collegiate level, ultimate Frisbee team? Well, we’re making decisions all the time like that. How would you coach us?

Mark Miller [00:23:14] Yeah. I’m going to have 40, 50, 60 years of influence in the marketplace. And for some of your listeners, they’re going to have 40, 50, 60 years of influence in ministry. You’ve got a pretty small window, and when you really think about it with your kids. And I think there’s plenty of time in my case to sell chicken, later. There’s plenty of time to write books, later. But that window is going to close. I mean, I hope to be and God willing, will be close to Justin and David forever. But even those, those opportunities are limited. And and that makes them more precious to me. So I just think we’ve got to be real careful about the trade offs we make. Now, I want to be real clear. I didn’t make every one of his ball games. He played 37 sports, I think. I didn’t make every ball game. I did have a job, but I made a lot of them and I made extra effort to be at as many of those things as I could. Yeah, but yeah, there are always trade offs. I just think I would coach people to be really, really mindful on the trade offs and ask yourself, why are you making that decision?  

Jeff Zaugg [00:24:33] Yep. So let’s not talk about repetition or patience, but maybe another aspect of fatherhood. What would if I was chatting with your wife, whose had you know, a lot of years to watch you be a dad and a grandpa, like, what would she say, like, Oh, this is an area that Mark has struggled a little bit, like this has been a common like he’s working on it, but he’s not. He is still trying to get better in that area. What categories of fatherhood were those stretch areas? 

Mark Miller [00:25:03] Probably the idle times. I am much better climbing a mountain with Justin than I would have been sitting on the floor playing blocks, that would have felt like idle time to me. Yeah, and some of that’s just the way I am. It’s like, let’s go do something. And stacking the blocks the 37th time wouldn’t feel, to me, like we were doing something. And so I worked on that. But I don’t know that I ever mastered that. I mean, I’m a kind of I’m a kind of, do it, get it done kind of guy. Yeah. And so that is probably something I should still work on, because now I’ve got grandkids, and some of what I need to do with them is just be there and not do anything. 

Jeff Zaugg [00:25:50] Yeah. And I mentioned the couple of hours with my daughter, my little 14 month old, this morning, I had idle time. But guess what I had in one of my hands for most of those 2 hours? The cell phone. It’s, it’s it’s wild the idle time, the distractions. And this is actually going to take us into talking about your this is your most recent book, right? Smart Leadership, that’s the most recent?

Mark Miller [00:26:13] That is correct. 

Jeff Zaugg [00:26:15] Yeah. The quicksand analogy, and then specifically distractions, I mean, there’s so many that parallel to the dad life, so many things you talked about. But this is four simple choices to scale your impact. I loved the superhero you had to set up, so before we talk about quicksand, the set up around, you know, what’s the superhero strength that we all have? And can you answer the question? What is it? 

Mark Miller [00:26:40] It it’s our ability to make choices. That’s our superpower. That’s our superpower. And it’s interesting you talk about this and it’s parallels to fatherhood, because I think they’re completely parallel with fatherhood. The choices that leaders make to get out of the quicksand, the quicksand, a busyness and distraction and complexity and competing priorities and success and fear and fatigue and aimlessness, all that stuff’s in the quicksand. Yeah. And what you have to do to get out are the same things I think you have to do to be a good father. 

Jeff Zaugg [00:27:17] Yes. And the ownership be like I can take like I have the I have the power as dad to not make excuses to take ownership and it starts, well, I want to I want to walk through them. And some of the parallels…

Mark Miller [00:27:30] Well let me say this choice, choices give us agency, choices give us opportunity and choices give us responsibility. 

Jeff Zaugg [00:27:42] Yeah, that’s my counselor talks about agency and he’s like, he hears me talking and I’m making excuses. He’s like, Wait, you’re the dad. Wait, wait. You’re, you are the founder of this ministry that you run. He’s like, why are you talking like this? Because I’m talking, I’m just handing away agency, I believe is what I’m doing there. And and I think is that what you, you talk about is like the, is that the flailing in the quicksand? Is that is that when you’re just blaming others or which one is the…

Mark Miller [00:28:12] No, no, no, no. I was thinking. Well, agency or the absence of agency is when you just quit. You just die. You just give up. You just sink. And, you know, you hear about the great resignation. I think a lot of that can be attributed to leaders who are just giving up. And and I hate that at many, many, many levels, not the least of which is that when your dream and your vision and your aspiration is extinguished. 

Jeff Zaugg [00:28:41] Yes. 

Mark Miller [00:28:42] And I just hate that for leaders. 

Jeff Zaugg [00:28:44] And the giving up as a dad doesn’t have to be a divorce or walking away from your kids. And that doesn’t have it actually, I think can be the drift of I’m just going to survive the dad life, is giving up because you’ve lost going after their hearts. What would you add to that concept of like giving up in the parallel? 

Mark Miller [00:29:05] Well, I think we can forfeit that agency and assume a victim mindset. Our, our locus of control shifts from internal to external. It’s, it’s not my fault. It’s not my responsibility. It’s not, it’s not a result of my choices. And the stuff that keeps us in quicksand is almost always a result of our choices.  

Jeff Zaugg [00:29:33] Yeah. Yeah. Before I ask, I’ve got just one or two questions around each of these these four smart choices. Could you just give us a fly over for for the listeners to understand the kind of four buckets, the four choices? 

Mark Miller [00:29:44] Okay. Well, first, let me add context. We make about 30 to 35,000 remotely conscious choices every day as human beings. That’s not what we’re talking about. We’re talking about choices that require a little more energy, a little more effort, and a little more focus, but they yield a disproportionate return. And these aren’t the only four smart choices you will have to make in your life, but these are the four that’ll get you out of quicksand. And the first is to confront reality. There’s no way that you can lead from a position of strength unless you’re grounded in truth. You got to confront reality. Number two, smart leaders grow capacity. Which sounds weird because folks would say, if I had capacity, I wouldn’t be in quicksand. Well, smart leaders grow capacity and their strategies and tactics for doing that. The third smart choice is to fuel curiosity. The best leaders have always been learners. They will always be learners. And that’s part of what enables their escape. Right. Is they’re aware of what others are doing and, and other best practices, and they’re always in learning mode. And then fourth and finally, the fourth smart choice is to create change, and that is the choice. There’s so many leaders that I would argue might even make those first three choices, and they have little to no impact in the world, because too many leaders have lost the storyline. They think change is a burden or an inconvenience or or whatever. It’s like, no, change is your job if you’re a leader. I had a CEO tell me recently that these four choices sounded really hard. And I said, Well, you’ve chosen a hard profession. Yeah, but if you’re going to be a leader, you might as well be a leader that’s creating impact. An influence. But yeah, don’t assume that because I can rattle these all, those four choices that, oh, well, this is gonna make it all easy. Leadership’s a hard profession. It’s hard to create change, but the first three choices enable you to be more successful at leading change. 

Jeff Zaugg [00:31:58] Yes, there are so many parallels to the dad life because dads are leaders and we’re raising leaders like my, I want these things to be a strengths that my daughters have, that my daughters are stepping in and not stuck in quicksand, not stuck with distractions. Is there one of these, though, I have questions on all four. But is there one that you’re drawn to when you think about helping our listeners become dadAWESOME for their kids? Is there, is there one that you’re drawn to talk about first for fatherhood? 

Mark Miller [00:32:27] Well, well, let me let me let me say, we think there are four and we think they are interconnected. Confront reality is first among equals, is first among equals. But you got to confront reality if if you’re going to lead from a position of strength, you got to be grounded in truth. So that’s first among equals. The one that leaders find most liberating is when they grow capacity, because it’s often the absence of capacity that prevents you from doing the other choices. And so I think the one that, I was just on another podcast last hour and, they said, which of these is the most challenging for you? And I said, Well, all of them, but the one that I think about every single day, multiple times a day, for decades, is how to grow capacity. To me, that’s the, that’s that’s the brass ring, right? If you can grow your capacity, you should, by definition, be able to have more input and have more impact. And so that’s the one where I spend a lot of mental energy. Is is how do you grow capacity? And I think dads need to think about that because when they’re trying to think, well, how do I go to soccer games and ballet recitals and how do I do my job and be a good husband and take care of the yard, and how do I do all this? Well, it’s hard. You got to figure out how to grow capacity. You got to grow capacity. 

Jeff Zaugg [00:34:00] Yes. 

Mark Miller [00:34:01] You don’t grow capacity. You’re hosed. 

Jeff Zaugg [00:34:05] So I’m thinking immediately about 168 hours in my week and capacity being slivers of what what can I say no to so I can say yes to other things, so there’s a time filter. But what are some other examples, tangible examples of growing capacity as a dad? 

Mark Miller [00:34:19] Well, first of all, I would say, how do you multiply that 168 hours? 

Jeff Zaugg [00:34:24] Okay. Explain. 

Mark Miller [00:34:24] That’s a lot of folks don’t think about that. Well, what what can be delegated? What can be given away. Hmm. Those are multiplication strategies. And then are efficiency strategies, let’s look at your calendar. Peter Drucker, the late management and leadership guru who I think is the best leadership thinker of the last 2000 years. He said he had never met a leader that couldn’t eliminate 25% of the things on their calendar and no one would notice. Now I don’t know if that’s true today or not, but most leaders can eliminate much of the stuff on their calendar, that’s another capacity. How about structure, which is a derivative of delegation is how, how can you structure differently? How about role clarity? Because my guess is, and I talk to leaders all the time who are spending a lot of time doing their teams work. And it’s never your job to do their job. But, but then you can grow capacity as you think about your personal energy. Too many leaders don’t have a plan for stewarding their energy. And it’s nothing sexy. It’s diet, it’s exercise, it’s water, it’s rest, it’s recreation. But you can actually multiply your energy. Yeah. Wow. So there are any number of strategies. I’ll give you the most radical, and it’ll probably be the craziest thing that I’ll say during this whole session. Our research revealed, and it was, it was like staggering, how many smart leaders create margin. Now you talk to a leader in quicksand about creating margin, sometimes they want to hit me. But it’s been described as you see somebody drowning, you’re standing on the shore and you say, hey, I got a coupon for swimming lessons. And they’re going, no, no, no, no, no, no, get me out of this water. And so to tell a leader in quicksand, hey, one of the best strategies to grow capacity is to create margin. They just think you’ve lost your mind. I had somebody tell me I don’t have time for a vacation. So actually, that’s not what I’m talking about. I said I’m talking about margin as a leadership discipline. I said, when do you have time set aside? To reflect, to assess, to think, to create, and to plan. And he didn’t. And I said, who’s doing that in your organization if you’re not? Reflect, assess, think, create and plan. And if you’re in quicksand, that’s the first thing you need to be, reflecting, assessing, thinking and creating and planning around is how do I get out? Yes, they just finished a 12 year study of the calendars of CEOs. This came out of Harvard and they found that on average, those CEOs spend 28% of their time every week alone. And CEOs you’d think would be pretty busy people. And so somebody asked me, they said, well, what do you think they’re doing with that 28% of their time? I said, I think reflect, assess, think, create and plan. That’s what that’s what CEOs are doing with their time. So how much do you need? How much do I need? I don’t know. The bigger hopes, the bigger dreams, the bigger challenges, the bigger problems. The more time you’re going to need alone to work on those things. 

Jeff Zaugg [00:37:41] And those of us dads who are married, I mean, to just come up and to see the big picture and to make a plan like it, like without the margin, we just continue the race, right? We continue the the fatherhood race versus see with perspective that allows us to make choices that affect all the other choices. Yeah. Yeah. Mark, I’m so grateful for your time. I’ll certainly link your resources, your books, your other books. It’s so gracious of you to even give out your cell phone number in the book to ask questions. So look out, you might have some some dadAWESOME friends messaging you. 

Mark Miller [00:38:16] Yeah. Let me let me let me say it now. It’s (678) 612-8441 for dads that want to reach out. And also, I’ve got a free assessment on smart leadership, if they want, you text, besmart, as one word, besmart to 66866, and you can get a free assessment with some recommended next steps based on how things look on the assessment. 

Jeff Zaugg [00:38:39] Yeah. 40 questions I already took, the assessment, it was very helpful. Thank you. 

Mark Miller [00:38:42] Oh, okay. Good.

Jeff Zaugg [00:38:43] Yeah, I will link the all those things in the show notes, so the guys will have that. Mark, would you say a short prayer over all of us dads before we end? 

Mark Miller [00:38:51] I will. I will. Thanks God for today. Thanks for Jeff. Thanks for his heart for dads. I just pray that you give them all strength and courage and insight and wisdom and help them steward the gift of fathership. God, thank you for this time, and we ask that you use this to help us be stronger, in Jesus name, Amen. 

Jeff Zaugg [00:39:18] Thank you so much for joining us for Episode 235 of dadAWESOME with Mark Miller. All the conversation notes will be at dadAWESOME.org/235. Links to his book and his other resources, along with will have resources for signing up for Father’s for the Fatherless, as I mentioned this in the intro our 100 mile bike rides raising money for local and global causes. We’re so grateful for this mission, this is our fourth year of the Fathers for the Fatherless mission. All those registration deadlines will be listed in the show notes. You guys can hop in, register, join us. Also want to remind you guys, we have a text number that will allow you guys to get updates on a podcasts being released, but also we are going to start back up our dadAWESOME daily. We’re, we’re going to just be encouraging you with a short, it’s going to take you about 20 seconds to read these short text messages that are encouragements, reminders, resources, cheering you on in your dad journey in adding LIFE to the dad life. Just simply text this number, text (651)370- 8618. And if you would like that daily nudge text the word dad. So text Dad to (651)370-8618 and we will encourage and cheer for you and pray for you and send you that dadAWESOME nudge in your, to your phone. So guys, thanks for listening this week. Thanks for choosing to add LIFE to the dad life. Have a great week.