I don’t know how many of you are lucky enough to still have your dad in your life, or even have a dad as dedicated as mine, but given that Father’s day is fast approaching, I would like a chance to share some of the very valuable lessons I have learned from the man who helped to shape who I am.
1. If it needs to be done, do it now.
I can guarantee you there are very few ‘unfinished’ projects in my dad’s house. It doesn’t matter what it is, he takes it on like it is his full-time job. Retired and always needing a project, he rarely leaves anything until the deadline. He sees something that needs to be done and he takes it on in his next spare moment. From yard work, to painting, to fixing the back steps – he is a doer; someone who knows success is doing what needs to be done, doing it as soon as possible and not procrastinating.
2. Be a champion for someone you love.
My mom has been ill for over a year, at her side every day, he is her advocate, her champion and her pal. He keeps a steady loyal routine for her, pays attention to everything going on medically for her and is willing to fight with her to get well. He believes in her, he helps her believe she can do it too. Every day, no fail, without complaint, he is a man of conviction. He loves her, love means being there and not leaving it up to someone else.
3. Fight fairly and with facts – fight with all you have if it means fighting for your rights.
My dad is a letter writer, and a good one. He never just sits there and accepts unfair treatment or allows someone to take advantage. He is the first one digging up all the facts, researching the details, finding out the knowledge needed to ensure fairness and he uses it. He learns what it is all about and doesn’t hesitate to make a good factual case. No matter how much he may be angered or emotional about the topic, he works hard to be factual and fair in his dealings. He keeps it as simple as possible to make a great case for why his way may be the way to go. I write letters too – I learned it from him. I have fought and won with a major automaker, I have won my case with an educational institution and have been a winner in making sure my facts are straight and my details are correct. It is a skill I have used many, many times throughout my life.
4. Never settle for “good enough”.
Just “good enough” makes no sense to my dad, from my very youngest years I recall hearing him say, “If it isn’t done right there is no point in doing it at all”. The earliest I recall these words was when we were building fences at our ranch in Montana. He had a chain saw and was notching out spaces to put a cross post in. I used the expression, “Nah, it’s good enough” and quickly learned why it wasn’t. He explained the reasoning behind exactly where the strength in the fence existed when done right and what happens when it isn’t. Needless to say, I dug that post out of the ground and we pounded in a new one. It is something I will never forget, even when you make a mistake, fix it, own it or find a way to ensure it is “done well” but never leave something at “just good enough”
5. Ya, but are you making any money?
If the truth be told, I love what I do so much that I would do it for free. And he knows it. He challenges me all the time to remember that everything has a value, especially expertise and time. He wants the best for me and my family, and if anything is going to take time away from home and family there had better be a return on investment for home and family. My dad is a great provider, he is a role model in many ways that I wish to emulate. How we go about things is different from one another, but he has modelled provision in a way many people these days do not. Earn, save and grow your money – in all cases spend less than you earn and keep some aside, you are going to need it. (I still have a lot to learn)
6. Work harder than you think you can.
Sometimes this is the little piece that makes the difference between finishing with time to spare and nudging way too close to a deadline. He likes to finish things, so starting something one day typically means he finishes on the same day. He pushes it sometimes, and often we tease him for being crazed with it. The truth is, he has combined what needs to be done NOW with “let’s finish it” to ensure he is rarely caught with something left incomplete.
7. Research, research, research.
Don’t just take the word of others, do your research. My dad is an avid “Googler” even at 80 years of age. He has kept his diabetes under control with food, he knows all the antioxidants to eat in an effort to stave off a return of the prostate cancer he had years ago and he has researched the company history and management team of the stocks he buys. He pays attention to the things that affect his life. He has taught me to know more about things, challenge the status quo and to stand strong in my conviction – but back it up with data.
These lessons, these things he has taught me have contributed significantly to my life providing an even greater power now while I work out a redesign of my business and personal priorities. Having in the past few months slid quietly into a self-imposed leave of absence from many outside influences to lay down the groundwork for this change. I am ever grateful to my dad for these and many more lessons that have served me well in the past and will serve me well in the future.