Tony Soprano, the mob boss from The Sopranos has a few things to teach all of us fathers. Even though he is a criminal it is all part of the business, and within his business he teaches us some things. His wife kicks him out of the home and he works his way back in, his kids think he is nuts at times and at others, Anthony Jr, and Meadow idolize the man. What does he have to teach us fathers? Tony teaches us five incredibly important things that we do not want to miss.
Tony embodies passion in everything he does. Passion is rooted in suffering. In other words, passion can be defined as a willingness to suffer. What are you willing to suffer for?
Tony suffers daily. He is willing to suffer for his business and ultimately, one of his highest values, his kids. He puts on weight, visits a shrink, and is very unhealthy. This is part of his suffering that he chooses to undergo for living the lifestyle of a family boss. He does this to provide security for his family in the best way he knows how.
Tony is truly passionate about his life. He is willing to suffer. What we can learn from him is that suffering is part of our dues as fathers. We must give up some of our boyhood attachments in order to be a great father. And, learning from Tony, our passion will drive us to do what we think is best for our kids.
See only what you want
Tony takes this to the extreme as if it is the only way for us to get to know the lesson he teaches. Tony sees only what he wants to see and does not look at what he does not want. You can view this when he is talking to Carm about the women he sleeps with outside of his marriage. He plays it off as being no big deal. Carm is his wife and he is committed to her (though his definition of commitment is different than mine or Carm’s) and he sees himself living out his life married to Carm. Even after she kicks him out of the house! He keeps this ‘vision’ and eventually realizes what he chooses to see-he gets the OK to move back in.
When he is pressured by the neighboring boss, he looks only at the reality he wants to see and he takes action for this to be created. He worked the same deal early on when he made his uncle the boss-he saw what he wanted and was able to move particular people into roles that would give him the family business control and protection from the feds tracking the family’s every move.
When we look at what we do not want-we will get it. Whatever we focus on will expand and grow. Therefore, we only want to see what we want.
Live everyday as if it was your last
This ties into passion a little bit though it is more about enthusiasm. Tony never knew when he would get wacked. He lived everyday as if it was his last. He saved for his family’s security and he enjoyed the pleasures of being alive. This is important.
This also made him very productive as he would not procrastinate on anything. Another way to look at this for your life, as few of us have a near death experience every day, is to perpetually take a vacation tomorrow. When we are leaving for vacation, we are on task, focused, enthusiastic, and in a get-stuff-done mode. What if we were leaving for Costa Rica every next day? This would spur us into action and increase our results two-fold-I am sure of it.
If you were in Tony’s situation and there was a chance to lose your life every day, how might you live?
Promote your family
Tony was always close to his family. Even those working for him he considered his family when they were loyal. He promoted them. At times he could be brutal to the ones he loved if he felt it would help them grow. In the end, he worked for his family and he encouraged them to always grow and be better.
Through this desire for other people comes the desire for self to grow and expand. Tony pushed the limits on himself in order to expect others to do the same.
One thing we can learn from Tony is to look beyond our immediate family and see every person as a family member. Then this lesson truly takes power. When we promote everyone we come into contact with, we move into a powerful position within the community. When we promote someone else, we promote ourselves. There is no difference.
Question the norms
Tony lived on the outskirts of society. He was a criminal and he made his fortune off of criminal activity. Because of this lifestyle, he pushed the norms of what average people would consider to be ok. He moved outside of the normal lines that the majority of the population follow. There is something of value to learn here.
Most truly successful people have broken norms (Note: I did not write break the law-there is a difference). Breaking norms is how society progresses, evolves, and innovates. If we always follow what is ‘normal’ we may be stuck in a rut for a long time to come.
We must always gain awareness on what we are thinking and ask the question, “Is this hindering me or promoting me?” We must challenge our conditioning. We must challenge the norms we see and hear every day if we are to be truly remarkable.
When questioning what is normal we role model for our children and teach them leadership. Through this process there is opportunity to be humble with our children for there are many times when pushing norms that we will reach outside of our comfort zone.
As a father, humility is a noble emotion to display in front of our children. Tony rarely did this, which kept him a bit estranged from his children. He always tried to play the ‘tough guy.’ In part, this is the cause for his neurosis-we must express our emotions fully.
When we push ourselves into discomfort by questioning our norms, tap into our passion, see what we want to see, live life with enthusiasm, and promote every person we meet, we will become great. In doing so, we will realize, day-by-day, that we are actually raising our babies into healthy, functional, community-serving adults.
Matthew Scott K is a father, husband, entrepreneur, author, speaker, and coach, who is based out of Gunnison, Colorado. He is heavily invested in mentoring and the education of today’s youth while focusing on working with men to develop strong fathers and community leaders.
Matthew currently coaches men in a boxing class he calls Fight 4 Your Life and through Ollin Academy. Mature masculinity incorporates the abilities of the four archetypes; King, Warrior, Magician, Lover. Through Matthew’s writing and coaching he is developing the archetypes within each man to help heal and grow individuals to their fullest potential.