In honor of Father’s Day, I thought I would take some time and reflect on my Dad. In this post a while back, I talked about what it means to be a Father. This time, I wanted to share some of the lessons that he taught me growing up. I think that there is value in them all, and even though some of them centered around “being a man” I think they will be shared with my daughter Pilar. So what did pops teach me?
It’s not what you make, but what you do with what you make. Growing up, my dad worked for a bank. He once told me a story about how he was a supervisor, but he kept noticing a guy who made less than him but was always nicely dressed. At some point he asked the guy how he was able to wear such nice suits on his salary. “Mike, it’s not what you make, but what you do with what you make.” Moral: Don’t waste all your money on frivolous things; save some of it.
Buy good shoes if you can afford to. If you invest in a good pair of shoes (i.e. ones that can be resoled), they will last you for years to come. If you buy cheap shoes, you will always be replacing them. Moral: Quality products are worth the investment.
All a man has is his word. You can lose your job, house, spouse and everything else in your life. But if you have your word, people will help you start over. Moral: Reputation is worth more than all the material possessions in the world. So once you build a good one, don’t ever tarnish it.
Always use a firm handshake and look a man in his eye. This kind of piggy backs off the reputation thing above. But basically, if you don’t signal to another person that you are trustworthy, don’t expect them to trust you. Moral: Always signal to someone that you’re the real deal and mean business.
There are only three ways things can go. Often times after I would do something that was “marginal” in life I would get this lecture. “Things can be wrong and turn out wrong. Things can be right and turn out right. Things can be wrong and turn out right.” The key to the lesson was the last sentence. Moral: If you did something wrong but it turned out okay, be wise enough to know that you got lucky. Also, do it the right way the next time!
Admit when you are wrong. I use to act like I was a know it all. Yes, I knew some things, but there were things that I didn’t. When you are wrong (in knowledge, action, treatment of another person, etc.) it takes a big person to apologize. Moral: Always apologize when you are in the wrong. People will respect you for it.
Life isn’t fair. Sometimes bad things happen to good people. It doesn’t mean that the devil is out to get you or that God has forsaken you. Some people live to be 109 years old and some only live for 109 seconds. Life isn’t fair. Moral: Don’t give too much credence to praise or criticism. If you don’t, you won’t be rattled when you receive the opposite of what you expect.
No one owes you anything. I remember that when we wanted some extra money, my dad would tell my sister and I to go out and collect cans. We would then take the cans to the recycling center and exchange them for money. How come he wouldn’t just give us the money? Moral: You appreciate things much more in life when you recall how hard you had to work to obtain them. This goes for just about anything. So if you want something, go out there and get it.
You can be whatever you want; so long as it’s legal. My dad told me that I could be whatever I wanted to be in life, so long as it didn’t hurt anyone else. Why didn’t he stress being a lawyer, doctor or business man? Moral: Don’t limit the ambition of your children. Let them choose what will make them happy in life and then encourage them to follow it 100%.
A man opens a door for a woman. Chivalry seems to have gone by the wayside these days. But I do remember a time when you opened the door for a woman, got her car door for her, let her out of the elevator first…the list goes on and on. Moral: Just like the code of medieval knights, one should strive to be loyal, generous and noble bearing. You should tell the truth and respect the honor of women. Always protect the weak and guard the honor of your fellow man. Always obey those in authority and never refuse a challenge from an equal.