A few weeks ago marked the 11th year since my father moved on to a better place. Hard to believe it’s been that long. I can still hear his booming laugh. As a teen, I remember being embarrassed by it, but what I wouldn’t give to hear it again.
Dads are those wonderful individuals who drive their kids up the wall, embarrassing them every chance they get. They push their children to be tough and to stand up for themselves. They teach them how to play monopoly and how to change a tire. At least, that’s how it was in my family.
With our health scare recently, I began to think about my journey as a father and all that I’ve learned.
I didn’t have what many would consider a typical childhood, at least from the age of eight that is. My parents made the hard choice to move to the Far East at a time when very few Westerners did unless they were stationed there by the military or government. As a result, I have always had a very strong bond with both my parents.
I learned so much from both of them, but as it’s fresh in my mind I thought it worthwhile to share the best advice I learned from my father. I’ll talk about my mother another day.
#1 Believe in yourself
If there was one lesson my father impressed on me from a young age, it would have to be this. He wanted me to stand up for myself, to explain my position, even if I was wrong. He told me that he wasn’t always right and he didn’t have all the answers, so if I believed I was right, I had to speak up. Good advice and something I have passed on to my son.
#2 If you don’t ask, you don’t know
So simple, but so true in life, you get what you ask for, not what you want. Unless you’re Tom Cruise, women won’t just come up and ask you out. You have to have the courage to ask them out. When I got over the fear of rejection, it was amazing how many dates I got. But it’s not just with the opposite sex (or same sex for that matter), it works in every facet of our life. In business, ask for the sale, ask for a discount, ask for ideas, ask for their cooperation. As my father used to say, “You can’t expect people to be mind readers.”
#3 A good smile will take you far
If you haven’t read Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People, I’ll save you reading one chapter – smile. My father had a great smile and it seems I inherited it. People love to see other people smile. It’s contagious. It’s uplifting. It’s just plain nice. We gravitate to people who make us feel good and that starts with a smile.
#4 Make time for your family
My father may have been busy, especially when I was young, but he always made time for me. He always put the needs of his family first and that left a lasting impression on me. We are all busy, I get that but good parents make time for their kids. They schedule time for them because they understand how valuable it is.
#5 Take the blame
My mother and I are very alike, as such, we fought like cats and dogs every so often. We would be going back and forth but when my father had had enough, he stepped in and took the blame for whatever it was we were arguing about. It was weird. I knew he wasn’t to blame, but he said, “It’s ok, blame me. Now can we move on?” It was surprisingly effective. All those fathers out there reading this, you might want to give this a try sometime.
#6 Be a storyteller
This wasn’t so much advice he gave me, but what I learned from him from watching him, and listening to him. As we worked in the Philippines, Thailand and Myanmar for almost 25 years, he had some crazy stories. He had a way of telling them that engrossed people. I loved to listen to them at the dinner table.
You could always find my father at dinner parties because of his laugh. He loved to laugh, and he loved to make other people laugh. Combine that with his killer smile and his storytelling and he was often the center of attention at parties.