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Avoiding the Dad Wound

I learned one of my greatest psychology lessons from one of the most successful salesman I know. It wasn’t a successful selling lesson though, but rather a life lesson, one that I hope we as humans can seek in the future to avoid. As I tell you the story, you will know what I mean.

It seems that when this friend of mine took over his first sales team at one of the most successful companies of the new economy, he scheduled an appointment with his sales manager, the V.P Sales. In the course of the discussion my friend asked what it was that was the most important characteristic to look for in a person to become a successful salesperson. The answer he got was astonishing – but extremely insightful into the psychology we allow that drives people to unhealthy relationships and lifestyles for literally decades.

“Is it communication skills?” “No, those are very important, but not the most.” “Friendliness?”

“Nope.” “Technical know-how?”

“Not even close. Let me tell you what to look for that will almost guarantee a successful salesperson. When I interview people I go through all the stuff they expect. Then I begin to ask them where they grew up etc. I am getting to what I want to know. Eventually I ask them, ‘What was your relationship like with your Dad.’ That is the key.”

“The key?” my friend asked. “Yep. I’m looking for the ‘Dad Wound.’” “The ‘Dad Wound?’”

“People who were hurt by their fathers or never received approval from them are as driven as they get. They will give up anything and everything to succeed. Always look for the ‘Dad Wound.’”

I can say thankfully that my friend did not take his boss up on that piece of advice. But it did make us both think about the ramifications of our own lives, the driven-ness we find in ourselves, and, as fathers, how we may be passing along those unhealthy relationships.

The whole story reminds me of CNN Founder Ted Turner, after winning the Man of the Year Award, holding up the national magazine with his face on the cover and staring into the cameras as he said, “Is THIS enough Dad?”

Let me interject at this point that the “Dad Wound” can also very well be the “Mom Wound” since both parents are so influential in the lives of their children.

What is the “Dad Wound?” It is any aspect of the psychology of a person distorted in childhood through the negative interaction(s) with their father (or either parent) that causes them to live in ways as an adult that are unhealthy, particularly the driven-ness to succeed in order to somehow prove their own value or worth.

We have to understand that our parents affected us psychologically in ways both good and bad. Unfortunately, it seems to me that the “Dad Wound” syndrome is ubiquitous. This is not in any way to say that we should not live for success or push ourselves hard. That, I believe, we should do. The “Dad Wound” is a warped reason we drive ourselves, and it is a thirst that can never be quenched. This is why we find people who achieve enviable financial status but who are empty inside. I am hoping that by bringing attention to this, we can keep ourselves from the same.

There are two sides of this:

  1. You suffer from the “Dad Wound.”
  2. You don’t want to pass on the “Dad Wound.”

Some thoughts for those of you who suffer from the insatiable driven-ness of the “Dad Wound.”

Try to go back and find out what your Dad’s (or Mom’s) history was. When I look at my own parent’s shortcomings, I see people who grew up with a tremendous

amount of pressure and not much training in how to raise healthy children. This will not take away the pain but will help you understand that their motives weren’t bad.

Begin to realize that ultimately, even your parent’s approval will not fully satisfy you. Life will still go on. Who really needs to be satisfied is YOU. Work toward coming to like yourself.

Develop healthy friendships. These will be people who can speak truth into your life. Their constant support and affirmation will prove priceless in your life. Just the other day I sat across the lunch table from one of the most successful men I know, who happens to also be my best friend. He asked me what my biggest fear was in life and I told him it was that I would die not having made a difference in the world around me. He looked me straight in the eye and said, “Then you can die a happy man, because you already have.” Those are the words we need to hear from our friends.

Counseling. I am not a person who refers out to counseling at the drop of a hat but through the years I have come to believe that some people need a little extra help understanding their past and how to get over it.

The secret… I have another secret to healing the “Dad Wound.” It is one that has literally transformed my life. I will email it to you free of charge if you email at chris@madeforsuccess.com and ask me, “So what is the secret?” It could set you free from the “Dad Wound” for good!

Some thoughts for those of you parents who don’t want to inflict the “Dad Wound.”

After years of working with countless people who strive for the sake of healing their “Dad Wound,” I have come to believe that the number one thing a Dad or Mom can do is to regularly, specifically, and clearly communicate! What should they communicate? Here are a few ideas:

Unconditional Love. Do your children know that you love them? I regularly do the following: I tell my kids that I love them. Then I ask them if they know that I love them. Then I ask them if the FEEL like I love them. I want them to hear it, believe it, and feel it. This will create a child who has nothing to earn for their parents. They can fly for themselves!

Pride. A child needs to know that you are proud of them. How will they know it? You will go to their events. You will tell them that you are proud of them. You will tell them specifically what you are proud of them for.

Openness. I tell my kids that I want to have a healthy relationship with them for their whole life. I tell them that I want them to be able to always ask me anything, without fear. And I will try to uphold that.

A willingness to allow them to be their own person. Some of my children have interests that fall more along my own. It would be easy to relate to them. But I also need to foster the dreams of those who may do something, or be interested in something that I am not.

Remember, the reason we want to do these things is so our kids can fight the world for their success, not their parents. I want my kids to be able to know that I love them and support them, no matter what. This will set them free to fly like eagles!

Also, don’t let the “Dad Wound” keep you back from success! Is it possible that you have been experiencing this and it has shackled you from becoming all that you could be? Could it be responsible for your pain?

The “Dad Wound” is real. I see it regularly in my dealings with people. It has a dramatic affect. Sometimes it causes people to work so hard they lose their family. Sometimes it causes people to give up their dreams.

If it isn’t a reality for you, call your Dad tonight and tell him “thanks.” If it is a reality for you, make a commitment to overcome the shackles of the “Dad Wound.” In doing so, you will set yourself free to fly! And if you have kids, be sure to do all you can give them the best relationship they can possibly have with you!

Remember, you want to be a success, but you want to be a success for the right reasons, and the hope of healing the “Dad Wound” isn’t one of them. That needs to be taken care of in other ways.

Chris Widener, is a successful businessman, author, speaker and television host. He has authored over 450 articles and nine books, including a New York Times and Wall Street Journal Best-seller. He has produced over 85 CDs and DVDs on leadership, motivation and success.

Copyright © 2017 Chris Widener. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. www.ChrisWidener.com