That’s my dad. And me. At 3. Old enough to appreciate football, but way too young to appreciate that mustache.
I am blessed to still have him here and have a good relationship with him. There are many things that dads teach us – good and bad – and for me, personally, so many of those things have stuck with me to this day. So this week’s Friday 4-1-1 is dedicated to him and all the other dads out there.
The good things I have learned from my dad that have helped me in trying to be a good dad and a model to those around me:
1. Every decision matters – no matter how big or small the decision or how much of an immediate and/or long-lasting impact it could have, every decision matters. This isn’t to say that every decision requires laborious scrutiny. It’s just to say that there aren’t any decisions – even those we make in a split second to get us to the next thing – that can be taken lightly. I have found that none of my decisions are made in a silo, even if it appears that way in the moment. They play themselves out in one way or another. Sometimes they’re right and sometimes they’re wrong and I do what I can to learn from them. But I know there’s not one insignificant decision that I’m going to make.
2. It’s OK to fail – nobody’s perfect and everybody fails so why not embrace it? I have a tendency to expect to do a great job every time I do something and often times, the first time I do it. And I’ve learned how unrealistic that is. This is actually quite liberating. I think, generally, we all want to do a great job at what we do, but the reality is that we’re not going to do a great job all the time. We might not even do a good job. This should not deter us from expecting to do a great job. But when our performance does not live up to those expectations, it’s OK to throw up the flag, admit defeat, breathe a little, take what we can from it, and move on. The beauty is accepting that we failed and wanting to grow from it. One of the best things about my dad and what I hope to always do – be there in times of failure to lift back up and support.
3. Consistency is key – I am not big on surprises, especially when interacting with others. I want to have an idea of what to expect based on the situation. For learning, I think consistency is key. Children have a tough time learning from someone who is inconsistent in their actions and reactions. They get confused as to what is right and what is wrong and then they don’t know what to do when faced with the same situation again. I really believe that consistency puts us on the path to success.
4. Be fair – fair can be a good thing and a bad thing. There are many things that have happened to me that I think are just not fair. No two ways about it. But that’s the way it is. Life isn’t fair. At least that’s what my mom told me a trillion times. But I think as a dad and as a model to others, fair is an essential filter to have. Fair has compassion and compassion is necessary to effectively lead.
“Uh-huh” – the best thing about my dad? He’s supportive. Even when he doesn’t agree with my decisions, he’s supportive of them. And when I succeed, he’s the first in line with a hug and a “great job.” I think this is something we all face every single day. With our own parents. Or children. Or staff. Or colleagues. We are placed in many situations where we can support. And to recognize those situations to the point where we can capitalize on them is often more difficult than actually doing the supporting. It requires selflessness and understanding, that’s about it.
“Duh” – being a dad is not easy. Telling our dads or our friends who are dads how thankful we are for them goes a long way. So to all you dads reading this, thank you for teaching and supporting. If you’re anything like my dad, you have some proud children today.