I come from the Eastern part of Nigeria where fathers played little role in the character-moulding of a child. They believe that fatherhood is all about providing for the family financially, leaving every emotional and psychological need for the mothers to handle.
Many parents believe that parenting is all about talking to and verbally teaching a child the culture, traditions, and norms of the society. As a result, most parents are oblivious of the fact that talking rarely instills anything into a child but observing you practice those things you say encourages them to repeat those actions, whether good or bad.
Growing up, my father—a man of character and action—made me understand many of life’s principles without many words being said.
I grew up in a family where both parents worked in separate states. Their jobs kept them apart for more than two decades and this was not easy for me or my siblings. At a tender age of six, my siblings and I relocated to live with our dad in search of a quality education. A new life began for us. With my mum out of reach, my dad assumed the roles of both parents.
At first, I was hoping and praying for my mum’s transfer application to be successful . . . but it wasn’t. I finally embraced the challenges of being under the tutelage of my dad. And from that day onward, I started learning many things from him silently because he was a man of few words.
As time went by, I discovered my father had this rare trait that made him outstanding in virtually whatever he does: self-discipline.
Here are five remarkable lessons about self- discipline that I learned from observing my father:
1. Time is crucial and valuable.
Most fathers in my homeland spent most of the evenings with friends in bars to avoid staying at home with their families. But my dad knew that fatherhood is not all about bearing financial burdens but being available for your kids and filling in when the other parent was not available. As a transportation agent, his work was time-demanding but whenever he was not at work he would be at home with us.
2. Actions speak better than voice.
My father, unlike other Eastern fathers, believed that a father’s actions and not just words had a long way to go in a child’s upbringing. He never had a close relationship with his dad despite being the only son, and that was one thing he wanted to change as a father. With my Mum being away, he seized the opportunity to affect the changes his father made in fatherhood. And this really gave him the chance to bond with us better than his father did with him.
Through this medium, I learnt self-discipline first-hand from my Dad. He wanted his kids to watch him take positive strides in life and should be able to do the same. He had this “give the world your best” approach to life and his actions were channeled towards it.
3. Rise up early to kick-start the day.
I witnessed my father decline many pleasurable invitations from friends whenever he had yet to accomplish a set goal. I subconsciously adopted this self-disciplined act and it has helped me in achieving whatsoever I put my mind to.
My father was an early riser, you would rarely catch him in bed by 5:00 a.m. and once he wasn’t in his room, the next place to look for him would be in the study. I adopted this early rising habit from my father and made sure I was out of bed earlier than 5:00 a.m. because great men are early risers.
4. Prioritizing the day’s activities leads to great accomplishment.
My father never started any day without a to-do list which was not so common for a man of his job. He would set goals and see that they are accomplished. He denied himself of many things just to see that his dreams were accomplished.
My father made me understand that whatever decision any man takes binds him to it. Through my father, I learnt that I am the president of me and that the greatest asset I had as a human being was me.
5. Pay today’s price and enjoy its rewards tomorrow.
My father taught me the worth of self- discipline and its major role in a person’s success in life. Self- discipline is the major difference between a success and a failure. Because both a failure and a successful person know the price to pay in order to succeed but a successful person still went ahead and paid the price while the failure made up a thousand and one reasons for not taking those steps to succeed.
Having all it takes to succeed without self-discipline is like a train without an engine. I couldn’t have made headway without it. Every morning I would wake up with a sense of direction because that is what self-discipline can do to a man.
My father is one of the few men who is embracing the changing role in fatherhood today. And has really inspired not just to be a talking father but a father whose actions buttresses whatever he says.
I understood self-discipline better by watching my father practice it.
Photo credit: Flickr/Carla Gomez Monroy