I'm a Barbie Dad

“Freedom must be constantly won over for the cause of good.”

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

With the start of school, our routines have shifted from the summer, which means that I now take my almost 4-year-old Norah to her new school most mornings of the week. It also means that Norah and I have some rare one-on-one time for about 42-46 minutes each morning, but who’s counting? At first, I tried to multi-task and get a jump start on emails while I hoped Norah would quietly entertain herself. I quickly realized that was a pipedream. Therefore, I decided to try and engage in focused play with my youngest. Her game of choice: Barbies. It’s horrible. Torture really. For the first few days I was so bothered at how bothered I was playing this game. It was no more than 20 minutes. Why was it so difficult for me? Was it some type of internal masculine struggle of having to comment on countless doll dresses? Was it the pressures of the work day seeping into my mind? Then I realized the real reason it was (is) so brutal for me. My daughter is an imagination tyrant. I love her, but in this Barbie world, she’s the boss and she lets you know it. "Dad, her need to wear this. Dad, her can’t do that. Dad, her need to say this now. No Dad, her have to play this way." I cannot play Barbies the way I want to play Barbies and it bothers me more than the fact that I didn’t want to play Barbies in the first place.

As I sat on the floor in my imagination prison, I couldn’t help but wonder how often I play the role of imagination tyrant in my life and leadership. Hopefully I’m a little more diplomatic than Norah, but how often do I beg people to "play" only to create parameters so restrictive, that it ends up just feeling like more work? It may get me the outcome I desire, but what does it do to the relationship? What does it mean for the next time I want to play? The Lord wants us completely, but He modeled one of the most important principles of leadership: the Lord wanted His followers to choose the Way, not be programmed on it. Whether in faith or leadership, if I don’t choose my actions, I don’t own them, and if I don’t own them, I don’t own the purpose of why I’m putting in the work in the first place. Can I give those I lead and love the same balance of freedom and guidance that the Lord gives to us? Whether with Barbies or discipleship, the most important thing is not a perfect outcome, but to keep playing. Blessings on the possibilities for your freedom this week.

by Daniel Cellucci

Sep 21, 2020

Weekly CEO Leadership Insights