Jim Wendler is one of the most inspirational people I can think of. The creator and author of one of the most popular and effective training systems, 5/3/1, he is also an amazing example of what it means to be a father, husband and a man. This has been one of the most humbling and uplifting features I have had the honor of publishing, so I hope those of you that aren’t already familiar with his works will read on and just take it all in. It is my absolute pleasure to share with you this Rad Dad Feature with Jim Wendler.
Tell us about what you do, who you are, and how you balance your career with being a dad?
I am Jim Wendler. My wife and I are owners of Jim Wendler LLC. The majority of people reading this will know me, if they know me at all, as the creator and author of the book/program: 5/3/1: The Simplest and Most Effective Training System for Raw Strength. Most of my career revolves around helping people get better physically and mentally – using training as a way of changing the mind and body.
Balance is one of the principles of my training program and in life. This does not mean equal time for each endeavor, job or hobby. This just means that you devote and maximize the time that you have and do what is necessary. A lot of this involves being selfish with your time; this does not mean you are a selfish person rather that you view your time as a commodity and don’t let unnecessary tasks take time away from what is important. For me, this involves living as simply as possible and recognizing what is important. This involves prioritizing your life and learning to say “no” to people. This is my life, my family and I won’t waste any time being sucked into a life of meaningless activities to appease some social or political norm.
What does being a modern-day dad mean to you?
A modern day dad is probably the same as it was decades ago: you teach and mentor your child to be a smart, responsible, caring adult. You give them support and love and let them know they are part of YOUR tribe; your family is the rock, the anchor in their life that they can always depend on. You help them find their way and give them the tools to blaze their own path. I don’t think that has changed.
One thing that has changed, at least in my eyes, is the amount of education you must provide your child that he cannot learn in school. This includes art, music and physical culture. These things are essential for a well-rounded education and we try to give our kids the opportunity to explore them.
The biggest challenge in this day and age, and this probably hasn’t changed that much in the past 100 years, is the constant battle parents have with what is preached in modern society: materialism, the crowning of the victim, applauding physical and mental weakness, “falling into line”, and how the media/popular society defines success. Even if you turn off your TV, this attitude can overwhelm you.
How did becoming a father change your life?
The most obvious change is that your life, your time is no longer all about you. There is a tremendous amount of sacrifice that has to be made. But with that, you have to remember to never lose yourself in your kids. You have to be a great example to your kids and still pursue what you love – to show them that life is more than just being a father or mother. So again, balance comes into play.
For whatever reason, I’ve always had the “me against the world” mentality. Now, it’s “us against the world.” And I like the feeling that we are some kind of motorcycle gang ready to take on whatever comes our way. All we need is a killer logo and make our kids earn their top rocker. In fact, we actually have “top rocker” challenges for the kids that involve reading, writing, music and physical challenges. Something fun that we can all do together.
What’s the greatest part about being a dad?
Seeing your kids learn, evolve, question and find answers on their own. My parents gave me a base and then let me find my own way. You don’t learn anything when everything is being force fed to you and I love seeing the thought process. I love teaching and sharing things with them – teaching them about sports, or music or philosophy. I love the challenge of answering their questions.
On a lighter note, my oldest son is just fun to hang out with. We have some nights where we both stay up late and just play games and laugh our asses off. It’s like a G-rated Frat party and those times are priceless.
What advice can you give any new father out there?
First, make sure you find your true partner in crime (your wife). You guys should be best friends, respectful of each other and in love. This relationship should be solid before you entertain the idea of having children. Your relationship shouldn’t require work that detracts from being a parent; it should be the strongest and most important aspect of your family. And you should treat it as such.
Second, have roles. I know it’s not cool to have specific roles for the mother and father, but this is my family. A mother is better at certain things and the father is better at others. This is how our species has survived and conquered. So know your roles, do your roles and don’t worry what the rest of the world is doing and/or preaching.
Make sure you are emotionally, financially and physically prepared to have children (this goes for the mother as well). If you aren’t prepared in these three areas, don’t have kids. If you have a surprise pregnancy, make the changes and sacrifices so that you are financially, emotionally and physically prepared. You no longer get to be selfish in these areas. The state should never raise a child – if you bring him into this world, it’s your responsibility to raise, educate and support him. Anything less and you are a burden on this society.
Finally, cherish the times you have with them. The most important thing you can give to a child is time and attention; enjoy the time together. Being a parent is serious business but that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun.
“If you want to change the world, raise good children.”
Thanks so much for taking the time to do this feature. It really means a lot to me and I am honored to have you grace our pages. You are an inspiration and truly define the “Modern Day Dad.”
Make sure to check out Jim’s website, www.jimwendler.com/