January 3, 2017
I had gone to work early – really early – 2am early. Yasmin and I had been arguing, and I decided to do what I do when I need to relax: work. Later in the morning, I got a text from Yasmin telling me she was at the hospital and needed to tell me something. She had not been feeling well, feeling easily tired with aches, so she was really planning to have a check-up. Embarrassingly, ungentlemanly of me, I had taken the car my wife uses without thinking (I usually take Uber everywhere), so my sick wife decided to walk to St. Luke’s since it wasn’t too far. When I got the text, I had a feeling I knew what it was about already but I don’t know why. I called Yasmin, and heard the news that would seismically alter my life.
Out the door went the pride, offense, and anger I had been harboring from the argument before. And I quickly settled things in the office and drove to the hospital. There’s nothing like being responsible for another life that brings out the better parts of our nature.
After the check-up, Yasmin said, “No wonder my breasts were getting so tender. They’re going to get bigger.”
“Nice!” I answered.
“You’re terrible! I can’t believe that’s what you’re thinking about!” Yasmin reacted.
“Sorry… What I meant is, I’m sorry you’re feeling pain.” I corrected.
“Whatever…” she said with a slight smile.
Being married has revealed different parts of me – for better AND worse. But I’m making up for my insensitivity these days with my daily role as Chief Body Butter applier. Apparently, there’s a whole line of products just for helping with the stretching a woman undergoes while pregnant. It’s not easy being Chief Body Butter Applier, but someone has to do it. It’s part of the many sacrifices a husband has to make. I’m being sarcastic of course. My wife’s body gets stretched and expanded, and that’s just what I can see. Inside her, she is literally chemically changing. I can’t imagine what that’s like. All I need to do is massage her. The more I read up on it, the more I think “I’m lucky to be a guy”. When my wife’s not pregnant, she’s bleeding every month. When she is pregnant, she’s…
I don’t know what she is.
My wife is, pregnant or not pregnant, always beautiful.
Someone’s 179 BPM
On the way to a meeting yesterday, with order restored with me in an Uber, I stared at the photo of my baby. I’ve been staring at that photo since I took it. I remembered seeing the heartbeat and the doctor telling us, “There’s the heart beating. 179bpm.” I was so excited, that as I posted a photo on Instagram, the only word I could think of was “Joy”. Yasmin laughed. She said, “You were thinking so long about your post that I was worried you’d say something smart and make mine look corny. After all that, you ended up with one word. For once, David Bonifacio has nothing to say.”
It happens more than Yasmin knows, like when I watch her sleeping beside me. In those moments, I also have nothing to say. I just feel joy.
I wrote this poem while stuck in traffic:
Our treasure’s heart
A beating gem
“Is that healthy?”
We asked naively
Doctor said, “Quite fast,
But safe. Believe me.”
“Of course it’s fast”
I thought with sanguinity
“That’s my child
Also chasing infinity”
So much hope you bring,
With so many a concern
But we’re not without ways
And what we lack, we’ll learn
I want so much to be perfect
For you, but you’ll find
What your mother now knows
I can be blinder than blind
But I will do my utmost
And where I fall short
There is One who watches
Our first and last resort
Best you meet Him early
For He already knows your frame
Best you get used to calling on Him,
To crying out His name
I am getting ahead of myself
As I am prone to do
You’re still forming
But you’re there, that’s you
You already hold my heart
Just a few weeks, yet you do
I feel my chest getting tighter
At the thought of beautiful you
We love you our treasure,
We love you our beating gem
We love you more than you’ll ever know
We love you 179 BPM
But my thoughts for my child were suddenly overtaken by the faces of team members and the people who work with me. And this question popped into my head, “Am I the kind of leader that a wise father would enthusiastically encourage their child to follow?”
I thought about this idea. Let’s say my baby was now a grown up, would I tell him or her “Go work with David. You’ll produce your life’s best work, you’ll grow, you’ll become a better version, you won’t have to compromise your values, you’ll be successful, you’ll achieve your goals, you’ll be healthy, you’ll be well provided, you’ll have great relationships, follow him, follow his instructions, and follow his example”?
All of them are someone else’s 179 bpm. All of them have the potential to bring the joy I’m feeling. Putting myself in their shoes, would I enthusiastically recommend my leadership? And would I be wise for doing so?
These thoughts quickly revealed many areas of improvement that I quickly jotted down and made plans to improve on. I made a commitment to myself to become the type of leader that a wise father would enthusiastically recommend that their child follow me.
For Millions Still Unborn
I’ve been reading on the different Founding Fathers of America. I’ve read the biographies of Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, and Alexander Hamilton, and now reading through Thomas Jefferson. I’m always blown away by the work they were able to accomplish despite the diversity of their perspectives and interests. Reading about their lives removed the myth of perfection and showed really really really flawed men – even terrible men. But a few things struck me about them. One was a deep desire to live out their principles, as flawed as they were. The other was how the idea of “the millions still unborn” was so important to them. They realized that their lives, their decisions and actions, the principles they defended, the institutions they erected, and the battles they fought would go beyond their own lifetimes and would affect generations, the millions yet unborn. So even as they lived in the present, their perspective gave them the foresight to build for far into the future.
I’m no George Washington or Benjamin Franklin. I’m no great leader. I simply have myself, my family, and our companies to lead. Our companies are not huge. I believe they will be. But I’m biased of course. Just as I think my baby is the most beautiful baby in the world even if no one, not even I, know how he or she looks like, even if it’s only been 6 weeks – in my wife’s tummy. But the decisions I make today will impact my baby decisions. If I save for the future, my baby will have money for the future. If I build a good name my baby will have a good name. If I build a strong relationship with my wife our baby will have that security. My decisions today will greatly affect my child still not yet born.
In the same way, in business, in anything I’m leading, my decisions today affect the millions yet to be impacted. Current employees and future employees, current shareholders and future shareholders, current customers and future customers, all will be affected. Are my present actions guided by the knowledge of future implications?
Am I the kind of person who is living with such a big purpose that it impacts the millions still unborn?
Or have I shrunk my purpose to just myself and today?
Do I throw that piece of trash on the street for my convenience now and ignore the pollution the millions still not born will face?
Do I spend the resources on my current impulse and neglect the future education, the future opportunities, and the future quality of living of the millions still not born will experience?
Do I truly love my neighbor as myself, and am I truly living a big purpose, that mobilizes the same type of resources for others, for future others, as I do for myself?
My 179 bpm is already impacting the world by impacting me. And it’s not because he’s done anything yet, and it’s not because he’s perfect, or healthy, or a boy, or a girl, or anything more than this growing form. In a world that’s so entitled, materialistic, and no longer capable or willing to suffer, we’ve managed to rationalize the killing of babies as practical but this is ignorant to this fact:
The first gift our child ever gives us has nothing to do with their perfection. It has everything to do with the child being ours. Perfection, at least as we know it, after all, is basically how close the baby is to “normal”, and “normal” is how close it is to average. The first gift our child gives us is joy that comes from loving someone beyond the love you have for yourself, and the second, for those willing to learn, is that we learn a new kind of love, a love not based on external excellences, but exclusive possession. I love my unborn child because he or she is mine.
Maybe this is also why God can love me so much despite how terrible I am. I am loved because I am His. It’s as simple, and as beautiful, as that.