Three Lessons from Dad

Three Lessons from Dad

Guest writer Alex Weaver digs down into life skills in his blog post this week: “Three Lessons from Dad.”

My Dad did not finish college but understood life and the opportunities that came his way.  He was a husband, father, farmer and beekeeper, businessman, entrepreneur, St Louis Cardinal baseball fan, and a lot of other things.

Our communications often occurred when we were riding in his old Ford pickup truck with stick shift, no air conditioning and AM only radio.  Windows were rolled down in all but the dead of winter.  

He did not organize his comments and lessons into topics and sub-topics but made observations that were for me to categorize.  These were mostly little snippets.  At the time I did not organize or use them as I now present them.  Over time I understood and lumped them into my way of living.

Lesson Number 1: “Know who you are and be who you are”.  Easy to say and write, complicated to understand and apply.  “Not everybody can or will be President of the United States”.  One emphatic theme was, “be a net contributor to our culture and society.  Build things up, don’t tear down or destroy social norms or institutions”.  It was as if he had a crystal ball and was looking at today.  He said it is better to work at a job / career that you enjoy, rather, than one that is drudgery.  Quality of life is important.

A Few Questions to help determine, “Who you are”.  for fun.  We never want to take ourselves too seriously. So said my grandparents.

  • Is your career only about how much money you can make? 
  • What about work – life balance?  
  • How many facets of life do you want to participate in?  
  • How do you determine your strengths and weaknesses?  
  • Can formal testing help you determine “who you are”?  
  • How do you overcome your “fears”, like public speaking?  
  • What gives you confidence and courage? 
  • Can you be wrong, instead of “always” right?  
  • How do you manage your time?  
  • Are you willing to fail?

How do you know who you are?  What do you read, how much do you read. How do you manage your own personal development? What motivates you and what doesn’t? What do you like, but more important, what do you dislike.  How do you spend your time – professional yes, but what time is left and how do you use it?  What are your personal goals around how you live your life?  How are you perceived by others?  What do you read and how often? What about music?  I like almost all music.  I love Apple Music and Apple Car Play.  Down the road I drive listening to Jefferson Airplane, The Beach Boys, and The Doors.  Beating out the time on my knee.

Suggestions:  Conduct a test with three people you interact with – ask them “who you are” – one reply should be “good person”.

My life’s journey opened the door to the Construction Equipment Industry.  As a kid, l liked Tonka toys.  As a working adult, I liked the real thing better.

Know who you are and be who you are ……. and be all you can be.

Lesson Number 2: Do the right thing – always”.  Never an excuse to not be of good character.  Values and standards matter.

My dad believed that we were all intrinsically “good”.  The standard of “right thing” was a mix of the Ten Commandments, Civil Law, and other values communicated by grandparents and parents.  Respect for elders, women, and the infirmed was not optional.  Positive relationships with those around you help guide you to “do the right thing”. 

As below, listen first and speak / act. 

Lesson Number 3: “Understanding or Perspective is Important – Listen first, speak second”.  

First on every list should be, “be a good listener”.  This takes time.

This is the most difficult for me.  I always want to jump in with my thoughts.

Humility fits here.  To be a good listener, you must be humble. Humility is putting others first.  Listen and you relate better with others.  Model this trait and challenge others to pass it on.  Build relationships by practicing good listening habits.

All three of the above traits speak to leadership.  A friend of mine, who reads constantly about leadership noted, “Great Leaders learn from Great Leaders” – Here are his top 5 recommendations on leadership books.

  • “Extreme Ownership” by Jocko Willink 
  • “Trillion Dollar Coach” by Schmidt, Rosenberg, and Eagle
  • Principles: Life & Work” by Ray Dalio
  • The Emperor’s Handbook” by Marcus Aurelius 
  • Your Next Five Moves” by Patrick Bet-David
  • The Secret: What Great Leaders Know and Do” by Ken Blanchard 

The things of value in our lives are often what we learned from those who preceded us. I learned a lot from my dad.  Thank you, Dad.

I mentioned one of my dad’s interests was beekeeping.  Next time we will look at the life of bees and lessons we can learn from bees.

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