Don't ever act harshly.

That's the lesson I learned the hard way, raising three daughters (and one son).

It's not about putting people in a box. I'm the size of a football player, and my daughters are all shorter, thinner, and smaller framed than myself. As a dad, I had to control my words and actions, throttling back my emotions. I didn't always succeed. I snapped at them, and there were a few times I yelled in anger. You learn, over time, that those unbridled moments reveal more about your own temperament and leadership abilities than whatever situation caused the outburst.

I remember the time my second-oldest daughter hit her head on the kitchen table. It wasn't that bad, and she was running too fast with some toys. "What are you doing?" I said. She stopped, looked down, and started crying. You can imagine how this makes you feel as a dad. Your child makes a mistake and you make it worse. So much for the "gentle giant" approach. Her bump started to grow a little, and we were worried so we took her to urgent care. "What will my friends think of me now?" she said on the way.

I held back the tears.

Raising three daughters and one son taught me a lot about seeing things from their point of view. As a "man's man" I was always trying to be the tough guy growing up. I didn't think too much about how other people were feeling in any given situation. This caused problems at work, because I became so focused on my own success and opinions.

In 1989, my wife gave birth to my oldest daughter, and there were several complications related to blood clots. I remember the stress, but once the doctors had everything under control, I also remember the joy. My wife and I were now the proud parents of a little helpless infant. So much for being the tough guy. That was a first step.

Over the years, there were hundreds of times when I had to re-calibrate my perspective to match the one you have when you're a child. If you read this column, you know I spent about ten years climbing the ladder of success in the corporate world. I was the typical driven, hyper-focused career-oriented corporate drone. If they had a poster for this personality type, I'd be the model for it. I even wore a suit and tie at the time.

At home, things were different--fortunately. I was a young father, learning the ropes. I coached soccer, played blocks on the floor of the living room, held Wrestlemania with all four of my kids almost every night. It was a joyous time, and those years were a rebuilding (and rebranding) time for me. It's when I learned to have empathy and compassion in a way that would not have occurred otherwise. You can't look at the world the same way. Here I was, standing two feet taller than my elementary-aged girls as they schooled me in how to take a breath, set aside work conflicts, and stay in the moment.

It worked wonders. I became a totally different person.

Recently, I've been doing some mentoring in a college setting and I'm constantly trying to see the viewpoint of other people on the team. What was I trying to accomplish when I was that age? How would this work task make someone feel given the pressures they have? I've had to change my perspective all over again.

As a leader in a work setting, it's so important to have empathy for others. It's not possible to lead effectively unless you can somehow start seeing the world from the eyes of your employees. You have to stop "career building" and stop focusing on your own narrow agenda. No team ever survives for long with a leader who only wants to advance his or her own agenda and achieve success. In fact, every healthy team has empathy flowing in abundance. It's so ingrained in every person there is no other option.

As a father, you have to bend a knee and start seeing the world from the perspective of a young child playing with Lego blocks. You bow down, you acquiesce. You realize all of the trouble you have in life doesn't compare to one of your kids bumping her head on the table and wondering what her friends will think of her. (Note: The bump went away by the time we got to the urgent care, but I still had the doctors take a look.)

In a recent interview with CNBC, Mark Cuban made a similar point about perspective. He said he is now at the point in his life where he sleeps fine at night. He doesn't wake up in a cold sweat. He said he's realized that work issues can wait until the morning.

I believe that's similar to what I've learned as a father. Work is work, I say to my wife a lot these days. My daughters (and my son) needed to have a dad. I'd rather spend 20 minutes talking to one of my kids about a bike trip or a dating relationship than accomplish something great in the workplace these days. There is no greater joy than investing in the life of someone else, seeing their perspective, helping with their challenges. Focusing on my challenges only leads to more stress and more headaches.

Learning to have empathy made me a better dad, a better leader...a better person. I can't imagine what kind of corporate drone I would have become otherwise.