Father’s Day has become a bit of a solemn day for me. I lost my father a few years ago and, while my kids do their best to celebrate the day with me, I can’t help but to feel the loss of my father in my life. Just the same, Father’s Day does provide me with the chance to reflect back on some of the sage advice that I got from him over the years and consider how it has informed my approach to work and to life.
A working man, dedicating over 36 years to his factory job, my father was one of few words. He was a voracious reader — one whose interests were far and wide — and, a lifelong learner. So, when he spoke, you listened. Here is some of his best advice and what that advice meant to me:
- Life is what you make it: This is my dad’s way of telling me that it’s up to me to decide how I will react and respond to situations encountered in life. If you see things as bad and out of control then that’s what they will become. But, if you see challenges as opportunities to dig deep and do your best then that’s what your life will become for you — a land of opportunity.
- No one promised you that everything was going to be fun: This was one that he pulled out whenever I was complaining about how difficult something was in my young life. He was about reminding me that sometimes life gets challenging and you need to suck it up and get through it.
- Why not you?: This question played a duel purpose. It was used to encourage me to dream big. If you set your ind to it, it can be achieved. It was also used to remind me that “no one promised me that everything was going to be fun!” — a sort of, “Why do you think you’re above having hard times in your life?“
- Not all of our buddies are your friends: This piece of advice was meant to protect me from the harsh reality that sometimes the people in your life don’t always live up to your expectations. In his mind, a person may only develop a handful of friends in their lifetime that they can really count on through think or thin.
- Success comes with discipline and courage: My Dad was a big believer in the idea that If you want something, do whatever it takes to earn it. This is one that really informed a lot of who I am today.
- Know yourself and you’ll never be surprised: His thing was much about taking the time to slow down and think about the big picture. He encouraged me to work to understand and identify what was really important to me. If I can understand that articulate it then everything else around me begins to make a lot more sense. After all, it’s us that gives life its context.
- Take a look around the next time that you’re feeling sorry for yourself: This is one that I use with my kids. We share the planet with a lot people that have circumstances far worse than our own. Sometimes gaining a little perspective helps us to recognize that our current plight (whatever it might be) is not all that bad!
- Believe in a Higher Power: He wasn’t a particularly religious person. But, he believed that life wasn’t just one big convenient accident, either. When times are at their most challenging, I’ve found comfort in believing that I wasn’t in it alone and it’s helped me in recognizing that “Life’s not all about me.” Of course, what you believe is a personal choice.
While this list could go on forever, I’ll keep it at that. But, I do hope that I’ve shared enough to inspire you to learn from these “truths,” as well. And, if you don’t mind, I am going to keep a few of my Dad’s best thoughts for just me to savor.
This article originally appeared at http://www.inc.com/james-kerr/my-dad-s-best-advice.html