#db Father: Preparing to Raise a Man

#db Father: Preparing to Raise a Man

On September 1, only 5 days from now, my son, who will most likely be named Elijah David Perucchetti Bonifacio, will be born via scheduled cesarian. As mothers will know, the process of pregnancy and giving birth is different for everyone. For some women, like my wife, and for a range of different issues, a surgical operation is required to deliver the baby. It is a generally safe procedure but your prayers are always appreciated. I love the idea of prayer, that we can come to God Himself, and that He listens. I love the idea of people coming to God for the concerned of others. It is a very real example of living out our Christian life, not only acknowledging God’s great power, but choosing to call on that power for another.

Yasmin has been incredible throughout the pregnancy. I do not think I would have handled the last 9 months as gracefully as she did. I wrote this on my Facebook Page to acknowledge my amazing wife:

Yasmin, you have been incredibly amazing throughout the whole pregnancy. You’ve been so strong, have had such a good attitude, and continued to take care of our home despite all the physical changes, discomforts, and concerns of the pregnancy. Thank you for carrying our son, for not getting a straight night of sleep for over 9 months, for going to the toilet a million times a day, for putting up with his constant kicking and moving, for managing backaches and ankle swelling, for enduring the nausea and puking, and for doing it all in your kind and loving way. I love you!

My advice for anyone who wants to attempt to raise a great family, as that’s the stage we’re currently in, is to choose a great spouse. I don’t mean be picky in the superficial sense. I’ve written quite a bit on how I think those marriage lists are silly. What I mean is this: be with someone who embraces the same purpose, lives by the same principles, and partners towards the same performance.

Who are you following?
While I do believe I’m extremely grateful to have such a beautiful wife, I want to ensure that my life and our family do not contribute to the diseases of “celebrity-ism”, which is the putting of people on pedestals. We want to do our part in contributing to society, and part of that includes sharing our experiences, but not in such a way to glamorize our situation, but to empower others to make the most of theirs. This is one of the things I love most about Yasmin. She is so natural and down to earth, and has no need nor desire to be treated like an “It girl”, like a goddess, or a celebrity. Quite the opposite, she likes to wear the same things every day, literally only wearing the one pair of maternity jeans she bought when not in a skirt. “Pretty good huh?” she told me, when I pointed that fact out to her. My wife rarely goes to have her hair done, usually does her own nails, battles her own way through Manila traffic, and is so used to washing her own clothes in the bathroom sink. Before and during the early days of pregnancy, Yasmin would be at the gym or out hiking, preferring to do active things than just hang out. Now that she’s close to giving birth, we’ve been talking about the workouts we’ll do to stay extremely healthy for our son. It’s true: Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised (Proverbs 31:30). Yes, my wife is extremely hot, the hottest in fact (I admit I’m biased), but what makes my wife lovely is this: she genuinely loves God, loves other people, and loves life, not merely the grand experiences of life, but the gift of every day, whatever that day may be. This is something we can all enjoy through the simple act of gratefulness. All of this to say:

I truly believe in the potential for everyone to be amazing. But it won’t happen if we spend too much time, in fact, any time, worshipping others. The time must be spent on living our own lives, the only lives we get, and making sure that our lives made the world a better place. So learn from us, learn what to do and what not to do, and learn that life has many options and it doesn’t have to look like ours. Most importantly, don’t worship us, don’t put undue attention or admiration on us because it will prevent you from learning the actual lessons, it will prevent you from being creative with your own situation, and worse, from worshipping the One whose favor all families need.

Before I move on, I want to leave some questions:
Who are you following? An influencer? An expert? A pastor? A relative? A celebrity? Or have you been cultivating your own principles and disciplining yourself to hear God’s voice?

The beauty of listening to God above all these voices is that He guides us to live a most creative life, for the source of all wisdom and the source of all goodness, knows a beautiful way unique to each of our own hearts and circumstances. So we let go of the need to compare and benchmark, and we focus instead on Him and each other, not our pegs, and place our attention to where it should be.

I hope my posts on learning to become a father are helpful, but I hope never to be guilty of celebrity-ism. It’s a disease.

Somewhere the baby bag is packed, the bottles have been washed, and the car seat waits to be installed. Yasmin has stuck the alphabet letters on the wall of the baby room, added a night light, and we’ve turned-on the baby camera and monitor. His cot is assembled, his stroller parked, and his clothes have been hung on mini hangers, waiting for our little man. As Yasmin and I prepared, as we read more about the method we intend to use, which is Baby Wise, we also started thinking about the inner life of our son. It’s so easy to prepare for the outer life and for the physical, his health and his stuff, but it’s very easy to completely forget about his soul, or to leave that bit to some other time when he’s older or more cognizant of intelligent things. But just like we prepare for the physical things ahead of time, I think parents should prepare, particularly prepare themselves, to be leaders of the spirit, mind, will, and emotions as well. You can Google or buy books on a great number of resources on how to prepare for the material and physical. I won’t cover that here. I do want to encourage you to think about the values you want your young men and women to embrace.

I posted this on my Instagram page:

This used to be my study and workout room. Now it’s our son’s. I still have a shelf and a pull up bar though. I am so excited to give him the best that I can. This made me ask myself, What does giving our son “the best” mean? It means to prepare him for freedom. It means to lead him towards wisdom, character, integrity, and impact. It doesn’t mean more toys or more clothes or more stuff. It doesn’t mean more comforts or more conveniences. @yasminperucchetti and I had to recalibrate ourselves and remember, in our excitement for our son, we have a life to steward, not simply a baby or a child, but a life of infinite potential. And we are privileged to be responsible. The beauty of this approach is “the best” doesn’t mean breaking the bank or keeping up with other parents. The best means passing on a life of virtue, and that is something we all can do regardless of what we can afford. #db #family #baby #virtue

A post shared by David Bonifacio (@davidbonifacio) on

As part of the preparation, I’ve been able to define a little bit more the kind of man we want to raise, a man very different from the old boys our society seems to churn out more and more. While this list will be refined, here’s what we have so far:

1. Godly: Someone who loves God and loves others
2. Graceful: Someone who is full of God’s love, favor, and virtue
3. Grateful: Someone who humbly acknowledges that all of life is a gift
4. Generous: Someone who enthusiastically gives more than he takes
5. Global: Someone who is effectively engaging this changing world for the better

From Day 1, we want to prepare Elijah for freedom, to be able to be self-determining, and wise enough to determine the right things. By defining these, we realized that we need to guard against the vain and materialistic parenting so prevalent today, the kind that parents by pegs and marketing, not by convictions, the kind that always thinks it needs more things and forgets virtue. We will never raise a man who gives more than he takes if we raise a needy person. A needy person will never be good for himself or the world. This reminded me of something Yasmin always tells me when she sees me being impatient, using my phone too much, or working too late, “Do you want our son to copy you? Because he’ll be watching you.” This always makes me stop and think more deeply about my own behavior. It’s made me take our list for our son and aim it at me: Am I godly? Am I graceful? Am I grateful? Am I generous? Am I global? If yes, how do I pass it on to my son? If no, how do I develop these things in my own life that I may be a good example to him? Freedom is a very important idea to me. How can I teach my son to be a valuable member of a free society if I myself don’t understand what that means? I won’t be able to. Which is why I’m preparing my mind regarding these concepts and other intelligent things as well. The point is, my son has one father, me, and to the level I can provide is the level he can gain. That’s a serious responsibility.

In a few days from now, my son, Elijah, will come into the world. I’ll be sharing more about this exciting journey as we go along. As I do, I hope my readers will remember the following from this first post in this series:
1. Raise a man not a boy. The world needs strong men who can carry responsibilities, fight injustice, and improve the world.
2. Don’t parent by social media, by influencers, and by marketing. Parent by conviction and wisdom, using defined values to guide you more than advertising.
3. Take a good look in the mirror and decide to become the kind of person your child would be wise to follow, because he will follow.

I’m saying a prayer for all expecting parents. Here we go!

How Do You Know If You’re Mature?

How do I know if I’m mature?
How do I know my calling?
How do I know what to do?

These three questions are very connected. They lead into each other, validate each other, and inform each other. Let’s explore these connections.

I was talking to a potential new member for senior management at Bridge. It’s generally quite tricky to hire for Bridge, given our intense culture, strictly defined values, incredible goals, and life stage (startup). It’s extra tricky hiring senior management because we require not just skill and experience but the hunger, eagerness to learn, and work endurance usually more associated with younger people. This person I was meeting with has all the qualities above, which is why we were on our second meeting.

During our conversation, she asked me about our young leaders, and she said something very insightful, “Given the way you’ve structured Bridge, this will require a lot of trust between your leaders, especially between your junior and senior leaders. How mature are the business unit heads?” I thought about her question, and proceeded to answer it the same way I answer most questions asked to me, with more of a description than a direct yes or no. Here’s what I said (paraphrased):

“Our team is young. But they’re hard working, they’re hungry, and they’re teachable. They’re all different personalities and different levels of skill and experience, but to be a leader in any of our organizations, you need to be willing to embrace your accountabilities, face the gap between who these accountabilities need you to be and who you are at the moment, identify what you need to do to start bridging that gap, and work extremely hard to do so. Our leaders are like that.”

Then she said, “That was what I meant about mature. That’s good to know.”

Fast forward to this morning. It’s 5:33am, and I’ve been thinking about this concept of maturity since I woke up around 3:30am. My alarm is normally set for 4:30am, but many times I’m woken up by something I can only describe as a call. When I try to explain this to many people, the response I normally get is a mixture of “Wow, that’s admirable. But you’re crazy.” and “You’re crazy for getting up so early.” and “You’re too intense.” Then there are those who, without saying anything, look back with recognition. Their faces show, “I know exactly what you mean.” These people excite me. They remind me of a C.S. Lewis quote, “What! You too? I thought I was the only one.” With these people I go further and explain to them what that call is, and the usual response is, “I’ve known that for a long time. It’s only now that someone has captured the idea for me in words, but I’ve always somehow understood that.” And I can see the validation lighting their eyes up, that all of sudden all the quiet plodding, all the courageous counter-culture decisions, the thankless hard work, the invisible soul wrestling, and the shedding of ease, made sense for them. They were not being kill-joys, or corny, or missing out on the good life or being cool. They were answering a call, their call, a call unique to them so cannot be validated by someone else’s experience but their own meditation on who God wants them to be.

Too many times, when I hear someone, particularly someone asking me for money, say, “God’s calling me to this…” I find myself thinking about what my next meeting is or wishing I had an eject button to send either of us elsewhere. It’s a very commonly used and commonly misused statement. So I like to ask, “How do you know God’s calling you?” And the usual answer is, “I felt it. You know, when you feel something is right. You know it.”

Famous last words. In my opinion, a calling is less a feeling and more a recognition of something or someone reaching out to us. Who or what is reaching out to us? The “who” are our stakeholders, the people we have commitments to. The “what” are our commitments themselves. A calling is not something we’re very interested in or very “passionate” about (another abused term), but the recognition of an accountability to someone or to others. Answering a call is not about finding the job that will never feel like work but about courageously, selflessly, and effectively heeding the summons of your life’s commitments.

And this is where maturity not only comes in but is necessary. It takes maturity to recognize life’s calls because it takes maturity to embrace life’s commitments, and to understand that commitments are accountabilities, meaning, there are consequences when we fail. A mature person faces the fact that we need to make commitments in life, the scary truth that failing in our commitments have consequences, and the very real risk of failure, without giving up or whining.

This is why you’ll find, over and over, that people who tend to have a lot of free time, flexibility, and less responsibility usually are less productive, less effective, whine more, complain more, criticize more, and breakdown easier, than very busy, very structured, and very responsible people. It’s not a question of busyness but of maturity. A lot of people who appear to have “control of their time” because they have a lot of free time are the most lost and ineffective people I know. Their “control” is a myth, because they’re bad controllers. They’re bad controllers because they don’t have discipline. So they’re actually not controlling anything. They are controlled by their feelings, by random events, and by what others are doing. This is obviously a sign of an immature person.

The answer to “How do I know if I’m mature?” is this: Do you know what is required from your life by the people around you? And do you courageously, selflessly, and effectively embrace this accountability, along with the potential benefits and consequences of success and failure?

Do you know what is required of you as a son or daughter? Are you embracing this requirement?

Do you know what is required of you as part of a team or group? Are you embracing this requirement?

Do you know what is required of you as a follower of God? Are you embracing requirement?

Do you know what is required of you as a spouse? Are you embracing this requirement?

Do you know what is required of you by your customers? Are you embracing this requirement?

Do you know what is required of you as a person living in a free society? Are you embracing this requirement?

Whatever your role in life, recognizing your accountabilities in each role, embracing the requirements of these accountabilities, and courageously, selflessly, and effectively meeting these requirements is what mature people do.

That’s how to know if you’re mature. If you don’t know your role, if you don’t know what’s required of you, and/or if you don’t effectively meet these requirements, you have your indicators of a lack of maturity.

So we’ve answered the first two questions about maturity and calling. Callings aren’t some weird fuzzy feelings or interests. They are very simple recognitions of my roles in life (follower of Christ, husband, father, son, leader, friend, etc…) and what they require of me, and maturity is heeding this call with courage, selflessness, and effectiveness.

This leads me to the last questions: How do I know what to do? The answer is very simple.

You should do what your calling requires of you. You should do what your accountabilities require of you.

What time should you wake up? You should wake up at the time required of you.

What books should you read? You should read the books that help you fulfill your life’s requirements.

What should you eat? You should eat the food that helps you fulfill your life’s requirements. (And you won’t be able to fulfill it if you’re dead.)

What should I wear? You should wear what helps you fulfill your life’s requirements.

What job should I take? You should get the job that helps you fulfill your life’s requirements. And sometimes that means getting a job that’s boring or difficult simply because your life requires you to grow up, move out, and learn how to be independent, more than it needs you to be comfortable. For me, my most difficult job and searing learning experience came from having to take over our old family business. It wasn’t my brilliant foresight that made me take it on. I was so scared about the business for years, sweating profusely despite being in an air conditioned building. But it was what life required of me in that moment. It didn’t require me to be cool, or to eat in fancy restaurants, to enjoy the trapping of success. It required me to sit in banks and ask for grace. It required me to beg for terms from suppliers. It required me to go to work at 6:00am and get comfortable with all nighters. It required me to grow as a manager and leader. It required me to trust God at a level I had never done so before. It was what my love for my family was calling me to do. It was difficult and I wouldn’t not wish it on anyone. But it was beneficial. More than the lessons, there was the character building, the cultivation of virtue that can only really happen through difficulties. Even more, I hope, that God was pleased with my reliance.

Your basis for what you should do is not how you feel, or what others are doing on social media, or what your social calendar says. Your basis for what you should do is your deep understanding of your roles, your accountabilities, and your requirements.

This is why I never tell people to follow their passions. I tell them to follow their responsibilities. You will discover more about yourself, cultivate stronger character, and achieve more impactful results by getting good at being the guy who makes and keeps commitments than by being the one who has the benefit of little responsibility living off of someone else’s maturity. This is also why I vehemently disagree with people who say, “Some people are really just like that. You can’t expect them to be mature. They were never taught.” Saying this means we have automatically concluded that these people will a) never face the many consequences of immaturity (they will), and b) they will never enjoy the satisfaction that only people of achievement experience. It is not true that people who were not prepared to be mature are exempt of the consequences of immaturity and it’s not true that just because someone did not start out mature, they are not able to develop maturity. They can and should.


Uncommon Advice for Uncommon People (An Introduction)

Uncommon Advice for Uncommon People (An Introduction)

Not a day goes by without some event urging me to write this book. Yes, some people have asked me to write a book (not a lot of them), and, yes, it’s sort of an obvious next step for a blogger to publish one (even if it’s really more a compilation of old stuff), but my personal reason for committing to this are the many people I interact with that make me ask myself, “Why do we think this way?”

Why do we think that work life balance is such a good thing? Why do we think our lives suck when we work too much? And what is too much work?

Why are we so easily stressed? Even worse, why are young people so easily stressed? What the heck is quarter life crisis? How can someone with most of life before them be so tired already?

Why are we so good at identifying the external things we struggle with, and the things causing those struggles, but are so bad at recognizing the more obvious internal character flaws we need to work on, that’s causing the people around us to struggle?

Why are we so easily impressed with superficial things? “He gave a talk, so he must be a good leader. He spoke on money, so he must be rich. He talks a lot, so he must be an expert. He preaches, so he must be God’s voice. He’s on a magazine, so he must be worth following. He has a million followers, so he must be making the world a better place.”

And even older people, and people in the middle (like me), are guilty of this:

“He got good grades, so he’s going to be a success. He went to a prestigious school, so we should hire him. He has a prominent last name, so he must be of good quality. He has money, so he must be wise.”

I can go on about some of the common ways of thinking I encounter that really make me pause, and, after some contemplation, really worry me: If people think like this, than what kind of contribution (or lack of contribution) will they make to the world and to their own lives?

It’s a thought that should worry all of us.

This book is not about new ideas. I guess you can even say it’s about old ones. Neither is it about big ideas. I actually prefer operationalizing small ideas excellently. If you’re looking for inspiration, this is not the book for you. There’s enough quotes shared online that should have done the trick by now. If you hate perspiration, the difficult, painful, gritty, embarrassing, soul-rending, ego-crushing, process of character building, this is not for you either. If you’re one of those who buy books and actually don’t read them, practically just using them as decor for your bedside or your instagram feed, this is also not your book (I want to have as plain a cover as possible to avoid this). If you see books or ideas as boosters, as silver bullets, as panaceas, as a source of that great insight that will finally help you become a success, this book won’t be able to help you either. If you’re one of those who needs the “sandwich method” in order to be corrected, I think you’ll find my offering lacking any buns. If you’re more concerned with how you appear than who you’re becoming, than you’ll find I offer no fashion advice or tips on how to fake it to make it. This isn’t a prayer book. I don’t pretend to be an expert in magical incantations and rituals to convince our Creator to prioritize the healing of the body I won’t even diet for, much less care for; the bank account I won’t save for; the career I won’t work for; the family I won’t sacrifice for; and the soul I won’t wrestle for.

Sadly, many of the people who are supposed to be guiding us, experts, thought leaders, and public speakers, are confusing us with well meaning, nice sounding, bad advice. “Do what you love”, “Prioritize work-life balance”, and “Do your best and God will do the rest” are some of the popular ideas that may be appealing but are, sadly, many times misleading. This is what happens when we take our cues from professional speakers and professional influencers, people whose main job is to please the crowd without being accountable for improving performance. When we split the influence from the responsibility, we end up with what we have now: overrated celebrity thought leaders who are disproportionately more respected and better compensated than those who are actually held accountable for achieving the results.

I’m writing for people who want to reconnect the results they want in life with their own responsibility to make it happen.

I guess I’m really writing for a very limited audience, particularly one single person, my son. Someday I want to tell him, “You’re going to be entering an exciting world of ideas but I want you to be able to separate the good, the bad, the nice, the popular, the acceptable, from the great. I want you to be a man of substance, not vain. I want you to be wise, not superstitious. I want you to be impactful, not entitled. I want you to be effective, not opinionated. I want you to be truthful, not politically correct. I want you to be virtuous more than rich or famous. To be that, you need to live by convictions not conventions, and that takes more than new or big ideas, that takes more than inspiration or excitement. That takes character. Character building starts when we take accountabilities in life and courageously face the gap between who we are and who our accountabilities need us to become.”

This book is me taking aim at well-meaning, nice-sounding, generally-accepted, even well-loved ideas, that ultimately prevent us from building great character.

Author’s Note:

As you read this book, feel free to disagree with my ideas. These are based on my limited experiences and context which could be very different from yours. If they challenge you, wrestle with them, debate them, and discuss them. Whatever you do, don’t just accept them or reject them. That’s the shallow thing to do. I’m simply presenting my thoughts hoping they will trigger in you a process of figuring out what you should believe for yourself, even more, that you will take accountability for your beliefs and the actions they result in.