Fatherhood vs Ambition

One of my favourite blog-posts of all time is this one, written by a guy I know nothing about, apart from that he’s called Paul Graham, a number of his thoughts on having kids are similar to mine and I sense that he’s a good man.


There’s something satisfying about reading something where someone else puts your thoughts into words better than you can. So much of Paul’s essay is exactly like this for me.

Now when people have babies I congratulate them enthusiastically and I mean it. Especially the first one. I feel like they just got the best gift in the world.

Paul Graham @PaulG

I admire Paul for having put that feeling into those words.

She [Paul’s Mum] said that one reason she liked having us was that we’d been interesting to talk to. That took me by surprise when I had kids. You don’t just love them. They become your friends too. They’re really interesting.

Paul Graham @PaulG

As anyone that is a Father of a 2-and-a-half-ish year old will know, this is so true, in a way I just wouldn’t have thought possible until I was Dad to a 2-and-a-half-ish year old.

However, I do have a problem with his essay and it is this. He wavers on the matter of ambition and how it interacts with Fatherhood. I have to disagree.

I hate to say this, because being ambitious has always been a part of my identity, but having kids may make one less ambitious.

Paul Graham @PaulG

In fairness, it’s not that he doesn’t offer some balance…

On the other hand, what kind of wimpy ambition do you have if it won’t survive having kids? Do you have so little to spare?

Paul Graham @PaulG

However, if you read his post, he’s not too sure on the matter.

For me it is is clear cut. For me, as my Son’s Dad, I have an obligation. 

I owe it to him to be ambitious. I owe it to him to make it work. 

In my mind I simply must do this because, I feel it is my duty to model for him what ambition looks like. To show my Son and the rest of the Family the day-to-day ambition that works in the World. That it’s not some cleanly polished model of progress we might be led to believe in what we see on Youtube or Instagram. It’s getting up before them, getting on top of the day and life. It’s setting and achieving audacious goals. It’s serving our communities. And it’s keeping on top of the boring stuff that keeps the World turning.

So for me, Fatherhood doesn’t impact one’s ambition, so much as to turbo-charge it. To prioritise it alongside spending quality time with the family, and working hard on the today so that tomorrow they will remember Dad putting it on the line day in day out, striving to serve those around him, make the most of life and eeking value out of every single minute.

It’s a decision to aim for and achieve stuff that is above the normal level of society.

Who’s up for 2021SWAN#3? Starting 5th April. Reply below and I’ll make sure you’re in.

What’s ‘2021SWAN#3’? Have a read about 2021SWAN#1. 2021SWAN#3 will be the upgrade.

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