The “Good to Great” Parent

Greatness is not a function of

Hi, my name is Jeff Oddo. I’m a father, entrepreneur, author, and speaker… and I’m on a journey. My journey is one of self growth, or as Dr. Abraham Maslow puts it, self-actualization:

“A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is to be at peace with himself. What a man can be, he must be. This is the need we may call self-actualization…It refers to man’s desire for fulfillment…to become everything that one is capable of becoming…”  — Dr. Abraham Maslow

While my path is not always smooth, I’m enjoying the process. This journey has taken many twists and turns through my life. But perhaps one of the most significant moments occurred in 2010 when I published my first book. Like 81 percent of the American population, I too thought I had a book in me.

Some would be surprised at the topic I chose — parenting. I’m sure most of my friends and family thought I was incapable of reading a book let alone writing one! They would have expected me to write a non-fiction business book revolving around lessons learned from my father who started my company (City Wide) in 1961 or maybe the trials and tribulations associated with running a family business. Although I was leading a management company in the building maintenance industry and that was something I could talk about, it was not what I wanted to do.

It turns out I had a passion for writing about the lessons I was learning as a father of three lovely ladies. Some might even call me “obsessed” in my pursuit of great dad-ness. Along the way, I found that many of the lessons I learned as a parent were also applicable to my business (and vice versa!), and that only fueled my passion further.

What’s the Theme?

A question that emerged as my wife and I imagined the 10 KIDmandments was: What does it takes to go from a “good” parent to a “great” one? If you are a fan of Jim Collins’ book Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…And Others Don’t, then you’ll know who inspired the good to great theme.

Collins’ book addresses a single question: “can a good company become a great company, and if so, how?” Based on five years of research comparing teams that made the leap to those that did not, Collins found that greatness was really a function of choice and discipline, not something that happened because of circumstances. I’ve taken that lesson to heart and have applied it to both my roles as President of my company and Co-CEO of my family.

Even after all of my contemplation of the difference between a “good” parent and a “great” parent, I’m still not where I want to be as a parent. I certainly don’t know it all. In many ways, I’m still a student.

Talking the talk and walking the walk are two very different things, and every day my daughters teach me something new about my journey. Just like a video game, they reveal a new level to reach as a father just when I think I’ve got it all figured out.

Why a Blog?

Raising three children has been the most challenging and rewarding job of my life so far. When I wrote my book, The 10 KIDmandments, my girls were all under the age of 13. But now it’s five years later and my girls have moved into their teen years. As any father of teenage girls knows, my influence is waning with every day that passes.

I used to think that I actually had the ability to direct and teach them. Now that they are teenagers, the situation has changed. I’m just hoping, as author Michael Riera suggests, that they hire me back as their “consultant” after they each fire me as their “manager.” Time will tell how I adjust to this new lateral job shift.

I’ve certainly learned a lot of new parenting lessons over the last five years — so many that it’s time to start writing again. Every time I fall down as a parent or have a little win, I find new topics to write about. A blog seems to be the best way to get my writing juices flowing again. It also is a great way to get feedback and facilitate a discussion about what it means to be a great parent with my readers.

What’s New?

I’m pleased to say that after five years the original 10 KIDmandments are holding up. Sure, the application is a little different now that my girls are teens, but the principles are still relevant. I’ve found that some of the KIDmandments are even more appropriate today than they were five years ago.

In particular, KIDmandment #1: Life’s Purpose has taken on new meaning as my oldest daughter has started applying for colleges. I was really pleased to see how much our family values around life purpose influenced her college essay. A few years ago, we articulated as a family a desire to “selflessly serve others” and that came through loud and clear in her writing. I’m not sure if she thought about that consciously when she wrote her essay, but she sure made her father and mother proud.

What’s Next?

I’ll be writing the blog weekly to get things going, so please leave a comment or tweet @jeffoddo. I really want your feedback and thoughts. If I’ve learned anything over the last five years, it’s that listening is an important trait of a great parent and a great business leader. So, speak up. I’m listening!