We have all heard, “everyday should be Father’s Day”, but to have that one designated day to recognize fathers and father-figures is something special.
My dad is an honest man, he never hides his shortcomings. As a kid, I vividly remember car rides with my older sister and brother – him presenting information he was processing from “self-help” books and cassette tapes. “I am greater than Michael Jordan- my children love me.” He’d say in a sarcastic tone, “see kids, remember- if you speak it, then it can be.”
We all benefited significantly from his candidness and love. On this Father’s Day I wanted to share three things he taught me and my siblings that all daughters and sons should know.
Watch closely to whom and where you give your time
Today it is easy to fall into a pattern of doing what everyone else is doing, wearing the latest fashions, using a new app or simply attending functions that others think you should attend. My dad is kind and a giver to all things positive. We’d be driving around and he would tell us a story about how someone he used to trust, broke that confidence in a very dramatic fashion. Then he would look at us all and say, “Don’t mess with crazy people, they can bring you down if you let them”.
This adage wasn’t intended to call a person stupid or insult them in any way, but he made it clear that someone he supported (and would probably continue to support) and trusted wasn’t worth the investment based on their actions. When you have friends, and often times family members, that try to dominate your decisions, judge your appearance or life’s choices, and primarily shade your life with negativity – you must divert your time to someone or something else more positive.
Work Hard and Be Your Best You
My dad has been a hard worker his entire life. As a kid in the south, he and his brothers would ride along with my grandfather who was an independent truck driver; this experience taught them navigation of the city streets, mathematics, problem solving, etc. Most importantly, they learned the value of good and honest hard work.
I would watch my Dad work over the years, I’d sit and listen to his friends talk about how he always does things the right way – following the set guidelines/rules. When a co-worker skipped to their own beat, broke the rules and put the safety of others in jeopardy, Dad would sternly whisper, “There’s an easy way to do everything, but hard work pays off in the end”.
This might seem cliché, but it’s hard to make this practice second nature. In today’s environment people look for innovation in everything we do; sometimes hard work and effort can solve any problem. It is easy to pass the buck, cut corners and/or blame others’ lack of support. But if you remain laser focused on your life’s mission and work hard at achieving it, the stumbles along the way will be overshadowed by your effort.
Admit Your Wrongs
We could be outside at the park or on the phone hundreds of miles away from each other, my dad always would highlight the ways that he hadn’t made the right decisions. “Your Mom was the best thing I ever had, I blew it son- don’t you do what I did” he’d say, or “my attitude wouldn’t allow me to play my best basketball, I let the coach get the best of me”. Later when I faced challenges with my own coaches or co-workers, I’d always think back and ask, how can I make a better decision today that will impact my future tomorrow?
No one is perfect and the pursuit of perfection can often lead to precious time wasted trying to live up to the standards of others. When you are wrong, you just know it, seek to improve on the areas where you are weak, and make adjustments to improve. Never allow an inability to see fault stump your growth as an individual or team member.
As a father today, I look at the example of my own father and the example of his father, my grandfather, as though I am looking through a crystal ball. Both of these great men have raised wonderful children, instilling in them basic principles that would in turn create life’s lessons and foundational principles. As imperfect Fathers they managed to be strong providers of knowledge and a myriad of examples that would make any child happy and a better parent because of it.
Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German theologian, wrote in his book Ethics,
“A father acts on behalf of his children by working, providing, intervening, struggling and suffering for them. In so doing, he really stands in their place. He is not an isolated individual, but incorporates the selves of several people in his own.”