I’ve learned so much from my dad. In honor of Father’s Day, I thought I’d share these lessons with you. They are listed in no particular order of importance, and this is not a complete list by any means…
Dad’s Life Lessons
1. Have a substantial repertoire of vocabulary at your disposal
The first “big” word I learned was as a small child driving with my dad. The word was alternate. We were at a flashing red light, and he explained that everyone had to stop and take turns going through. I got a lesson in vocabulary and driving in one shot. I still use big words, not because I’m trying to show off, but because I grew up hearing them, so it’s normal to me. And it’s a lot more fun to say persnickety curmudgeon than fussy grouch.
2. “Stuff” happens, so be prepared for anything.
My dad is a firm believer in being prepared. Like anything, it can be taken to the extreme where you can never leave the house without bringing half your home with you, or schedule vacation itinerary down to one-tenth of a second. It is helpful, however, to learn to think ahead and anticipate–what might happen in the future and what you might need to have when it happens, whether it’s tangible stuff like a house or money, or intangible stuff like knowledge or experience.
3. Have a “Rainy Day Fund.”
This lesson is an extension of #2. Most “stuff” that happens requires money to fix it. So squirrel a little money away on a regular basis for a rainy day. Because, as any weather forecaster will tell you, it will eventually come.
4. Make exercise a habit.
Most of the things my dad and I did when hanging out were activity-related, which set the foundation for a lifetime of health. From miniature golf and wiffle ball to tennis and mountain biking, I learned that exercise could be a fun and bonding experience. Exercise has played such an integral part of my life. Even though I’m not nearly as active as I was growing up, I have to get in some heart-pumping, sweat-inducing workouts each week for the sake of my body and psyche.
5. Make time to be silly and have fun.
There’s a time to be serious and act like an adult. There’s also a time to be completely silly, have fun, and act like a kid. Although my father is one of the most accomplished people I know, he’s also one of the silliest. Just because you’ve grown up, doesn’t mean you have to leave your sense of humor behind.
6. Make it work!
“If at first you don’t succeed….” My dad never quits when something doesn’t work out the first time. He’ll brainstorm another approach, learn how to do it himself, or find an expert. If it’s important, I don’t accept no, can’t, or it’s never been done before either. You have to first think outside the box before you can ever get out of the box!
7. Don’t let people take advantage of you.
My dad often told me–and still does–that although there are a lot of great people out there, there are just as many that will try to take advantage of you. He told me this not so I would mistrust everyone I met, but so I would be choosy with whom I shared personal information and be on the lookout for those who had malicious intentions.
8. Put family first.
Our family unit, as my dad likes to call it, was always his first and foremost priority. “Friends come and go, but family is forever,” he would say. I totally agree. (Although I would add that “family” can also include those few special people you choose to be in your unit.) My father has always showed us such support, generosity, and love. I learned my fierce love for my family from him.
9. Prepare for retirement!
Again, related to Lesson#2, but I had to put this as a separate lesson because of how many times I’ve heard it–which is mentioned with increasing frequency each year that passes. All his retirement talk eventually got me into the habit of thinking toward the future and how my actions today would affect me down the road. Which is good to learn before you hit retirement age.
10. Lift with your legs, not your back!
This isn’t an official life lesson, but it is an important habit to form! I followed this advice at an early age, even without the understanding that it would be a back-saving habit one day. I see so many people lift things with straight legs, all back effort–especially in the gym!–so I realize how lucky I am to have learned this lesson the easy way!
Thank you, Dad, for all the lessons you’ve taught me throughout my lifetime. Big or small, I remember them all. I’m so lucky to have such an amazing role model, friend, and father. Happy Father’s Day!
I would love to know what lessons you learned from the father figure in your life!