My Ah-Ha Moment


My wife, Analyn, and I married young and had three children by the age of 22. As young
parents we followed a traditional, hierarchal leadership approach to parenting. Though we
loved them deeply and doted on them with nice stuff and great opportunities, we were in fact
missing the mark. We made the mistake of thinking our children existed to make us look
good. We believed that they were to always conduct themselves in the way we felt
appropriate and become the types of people we could be proud of. With this top-down,
dictatorial style of leadership, we realized we were muting our children’s brilliance. Our focus
was more on creating replicas of what we thought a Miller child should act like and achieve
rather than raising uniquely wired and talented children who would forge their own paths,
different from our own.

It wasn't until our older three children entered their teenage years that we saw our parenting
model flounder. A disconnect between our ideals and the kids’ individual interests and
natural strengths showed us that what we were doing wasn’t working. Their eyes weren't
shining. Pressures were mounting to be a certain way and meet family, social and academic
expectations that didn't necessarily fit with each of our children’s hardwiring. My ah-ha
moment came during an encounter with my oldest son Lance.

“It was a hot August day in Sacramento, California and I was driving my son Lance to his first
day of football practice. Lance was joining the freshman football team at our local high school
and I had volunteered to serve as an assistant coach. As we drove, I was compelled to
inspire him for greatness. I had rather successfully played the sport and spent some years coaching.
I felt as though I could be a guide to my son, in essence an expert to help him
become his very best. I passionately told Lance how he would play with excellence, how he
would help his team, how he would exhibit eagerness and tenacity demonstrating his vital
role on the team. Mid-speech Lance leans over and puts his hand on my shoulder saying,
“Dad I just need you to know, I am not like you and I am not going to play football the same
way that you did.” In a moment of shock I found myself at a loss for words, which is a rarity
to those who know me. I looked over, grunted in agreement and uttered something along the
lines of “Go get ‘em son” while pulling into the parking lot.
” - Brandon

True to form, Lance did not play football the way I did, he played the way he would play the
game. I realized that if I wanted to see my son’s eyes shine, I had to let go of how I thought he
could be and how my identity and experience could help him get there. I needed to re-
calibrate and focus on Lance’s unique talents and wiring in order to coach him towards his

version of success. He enjoyed playing football his freshman year, but after the season
ended Lance hung up his jersey and pads, moving on to other things. A few years later,
when Lance took the Clifton StrengthsFinder online assessment, we compared results and
that 15 year old boy couldn’t have seen things more accurately. The assessment measures
the presence of talent in 34 general categories or themes, which are the basis of human
excellence. The StrengthsFinder assessment helped me see my son for who he is and who
he is meant to be, rather than who I thought he should be.

Brandon MillerComment