Happy Father’s Day! I’ve spent a lot of time on the road lately traveling for my clients. It’s given me an opportunity to think about my father, father-in-law, and the many men I know who are fathers. These men invest much of their lives to help create a better world. This year, my father has been gone for 11 years and the ideas he shared with me become more profound every year.
So what do we learn from our fathers? It’s a question I love to ask people as I get to know them better. I also love to observe the lengths these men I know will go to provide their children something more than they had in their lives. Fathers shape the way we see and interact with the world in ways that we cannot even imagine growing up.
Fathers share their values with their children. They help us become the people we are today. Good or bad, kind or cruel, fathers help us grow. I am my father’s values. My views are shaped by a lifetime of conversations and observation of a man who lived by his own code. He passed his code on to me. His code was treat everyone equally in their own unique way.
Fathers teach us how to grow and learn. Fathers provide a framework of how we see what our priorities are in life. They teach us how to make decisions and they help us decide where we invest our lives. Many of the men I’ve known are transformed when their first child is born. They become stronger, better men because they want to be the person their children think they are.
It’s amazing to watch a man change so quickly. Children are one of god’s unique gifts to mankind. There are few things in life than change a man so quickly. Children can turn even the rowdiest man in to a man of substance and caring.
Fathers teach us how to be more compassionate. Fathers teach us how to serve a cause larger than ourselves. They teach us sacrifice and commitment to others. Compassionate fathers teach us how to relate to others in the community.
Before you think I’ve gone all soft on you, let me say I understand that every father is not compassionate or caring. Fathers can teach us life lessons in many unusual ways. I think of my friend Wayne Dyer whose father left him and his family at a very early age.
This single lesson in pain from his father helped turn Wayne in one of the most compassionate men I’ve ever known. His compassion helped millions of people around the world become better, happier people. He helped many people find their unique purpose in the world. Their passion and mission will change the world for many generations. So, in essence, Wayne Dyer’s father helped change the world.
Finally, fathers teach us how to deal with the future. When I was climbing the corporate ladder my father taught me how to deal with an uncertain future. He used to tell me the best way to create the future of your dreams is to pursue a life of purpose and passion. Never surrender to the circumstances in your life.
My father would say that when you reach a certain age your career might stall or even change forever. He was so wise he even told me when it would happen to our generation. He told me when I was 55 I would run into obstacles that I could not even imagine as a younger leader.
I used to scoff and tell him he was full of it. I thought, at 55, you’re only half done. You have so much to do and plenty of time to do it. You still bound out of bed. Your possibilities are endless. You are still a superhero!
Then I realized again the wisdom of my father over 11 years after his death. Today I can hear him chuckle as I prepare for an interview to return to corporate America. I can see him smile as I put on my best dark blue suit; his asking if I need any help remembering how to tie a tie. He would remind me how to spit shine my shoes so bright and polished they look like new. He would remind me to stand up straight and give a firm handshake when I met my future boss. He would help make interviewing fun again like he did 35 years ago as I started my professional career. Thanks Pops!
I realized just recently it wasn’t how I see the world that changes at 55, but the way other people see you. So many years of doing things right only to be asked by a smallish man did I think I could keep up in a market driven by youth and inexperience. You haven’t changed, but they have. They fear the change you will bring to their organization. My father would laugh at people like this. He would remind me their time would come. It took 55 years for me to understand his wisdom.
If my father were still with us today he would remind me of a quote from one of his favorite philosophers, Muhammad Ali, “the man who views the world at 50 the same as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life” I believe this is a great quote to remember this Father’s Day. A father’s love lasts forever.
Happy Father’s Day! You make such a huge difference in our world.
See you next week.