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Life coach and author Linal Harris shares insights on fatherhood

Photo credit: Chuck Olu-Alabi

As an entrepreneur, media personality and certified life coach Linal Harris has dedicated his life to helping others connect to their identity, discover their life’s purpose, and embrace their power. For our series on “Fathers Under 50,” we asked him to share his thoughts on successfully raising a child in today’s challenging culture and climate.

What legacy are you leaving for your children and the children of your community?

I am leaving a legacy of identity and purpose for my son and the children of our community. As African Americans, many of us are completely disconnected from our true history and the pride that comes with this knowledge. My work as a man and father of our community is to reconnect us all to our true identities and greatness.

How would you describe yourself as a father?

I believe my responsibility as a father is to be a steward to my son. I am not his owner, but rather a spiritual shepherd to guide him toward his life’s purpose and personal greatness.

From a father’s perspective, what two books would you recommend every child read?

The two books I would recommend that every child read are:

Oh, The Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Seuss

The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper

If the children are older:

Think and Grow Rich by Napolean Hill

The Book of Proverbs by King Solomon

Why is it important to expose children to education and valuable skills?

It is important to expose children to education and skill-building early because learning is a lifelong pursuit. I believe a child that is taught to enjoy learning and skill-building will mature into an adult that will continue to learn outside the framework of a school, thereby guaranteeing their future success.

As a father and a life coach, describe your playbook.

My approach to fatherhood as a life coach is to provide unattached stewardship of my child. What I mean by unattached is ensuring that I allow my child to explore and discover his talents and passions without my interference or prejudice. I also believe in giving my child the space to make mistakes and experience the pain of those mistakes. My job as a steward is to keep him safe and alive, not isolated.

Which fatherhood experiences have taught you the most about yourself?

Watching my son observe the newness of his world has awakened me to so many of the little nuances of God’s creation that I have taken for granted. Every day, I learn something new from my son. This reminds me of how little about life I know. Every day, I see something old and forgotten with a new level of appreciation because of the awe and wonder my son bestows on it. Fatherhood has proven to be quite the teacher!

Why should people read every day?

Great leaders are always learning, and these leaders make learning a part of their daily routine. Whether it’s listening to learn, watching to learn, or reading to learn, we should always be learning.

Name one life lesson that no one taught you but should have.

The life lesson that I learned that no one taught me is that your life’s purpose is what provides a deep sense of identity. As a Black man, I wish I had learned this lesson earlier. Yet, I was blessed to learn this, so now it is a lesson I teach anyone who will listen.

How important is keeping your word?

As human beings, our power lies in our integrity. A huge part of integrity lies in whether our words align with our intentions and actions. As a life coach, I know that my personal power is a priceless commodity. Thus, keeping my word is important on a very personal level, over and beyond the impact that it may or may not have on others, because it becomes the gauge by which I can assert my will to create what’s important to me and my family.

When it comes to protecting yourself at all times, physically and mentally, what would you tell your children?

What I will teach my children about protecting themselves is as follows, and the order matters:

Guard your mind. It is your greatest asset. Watch your mental inputs. They provide your thoughts.

Guard your body. Honor and respect the bodies of those around you. Let no one dishonor or disrespect you physically. Defend yourself and leave.

What advice would you give on being responsible for your own dreams?

Any idea you have was given to you. Any dream you have was given to you. Therefore, it is up to you and no one else to see your dreams through. Expect resistance. Use your vision for your dreams to navigate through!

Finish the sentence: Never give up on yourself because …

You should never underestimate what you are capable of!

How does following your spiritual values help you in life?

My spiritual values have solidified my personal code of honor and ethics, which I believe is the source of all my many blessings.

Share one of your fondest memories with your father, grandfather or father figure.

One of the fondest memories I have of my Dad is when he took my brother and me, along with two of my cousins, camping and fishing. Three decades later, I can vividly recall the highlights of this trip and time with my Dad. This is one of my priceless memories.

Why is writing down your fatherhood goals for life important? Share your most valued and treasured fatherhood goal.

As a life coach and author of a book titled, Slay Your Goals, I cannot overemphasize how critically important writing down a goal on paper is to the successful completion of that goal. One of my most important goals is the goal and objective I’ve created as a father. This goal is to enjoy my son as a human being, be fully present, teach him and guide him through life towards his purpose while giving him the space to be.