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Leadership Thought #371 – What I Learned From My Dad

June 15, 2012

Since Father‘ Day is right around the corner, I thought it would be fitting to share some of what I have learned from my dad.  Every boy’s first role model is his father.  You believe him to be a man of Olympian strength, Einstein-like intellect and the quintessential self-reliant individual as portrayed by Ralph Waldo Emerson.  There was nothing he couldn’t fix or a problem he couldn’t solve.  I remember watching many cowboy movies as a kid and always assuming my dad would have made the better protagonist.

As we get older, we learn that our dad is human like everyone else and if you are smart you eventually relieve him of the pressures of sitting up on a pedestal.  However, many of the lessons we learn from our parents end up lasting a lifetime.  My dad taught me the following:

  • Big families are a good thing.
  • You can do anything if you put your mind to it.
  • If you are going to do something, then do your best to do it right.
  • Too much idleness isn’t good for you – get up and do something constructive.
  • Never stop learning or paying attention to what’s going on in the world.
  • There is much we can learn from having an informed opinion about the past.
  • There is something interesting about any place you visit.
  • It’s better to travel the world and see it first-hand than wonder what it is all about.
  • Celebrate your heritage – it’s part of what makes you who you are.
  • Christmas is an incredibly special time of year.
  • All people are worthy of manners and respect.
  • Don’t judge others too harshly and keep your negative opinions to yourself.
  • Social status is a silly thing to get too caught up in – more isn’t always better.
  • Small thoughtful gifts show you care.
  • As they get older, let your children make their own mistakes and be there for them when they stumble without judgment.
  • Visit your kids often no matter where they live and stay a while rather than making it a rushed visit.
  • Welcome your children’s spouses into your family whether you have much in common with them or not – it makes life much easier.
  • A marital commitment isn’t only about when it’s easy, but most important when it is hard.
  • At a certain point in your life, you should do what makes you happy.

My dad wasn’t perfect but then again no one is.  He was a good man who I honestly believe did the best he could raising a family of seven children on a schoolteacher’s salary and given his own upbringing.  I’ll be forever grateful that he preferred to open my mind rather than try and close it.   He encouraged me to become my own person, which is a major gift in and of itself.  I’ve always known he loves me and would be there for me if needed.  I let him off the pedestal a long time ago, but still look up to him in many ways.

Happy Father’s Day to all you dads out there!