I have been thinking a lot about the things my father taught me. My father was never a great communicator, instead he taught me mostly by example. Probably the biggest lessons he taught me were the value of hard work and of showing up and being there. I don’t think my father ever missed a day of work until he was into his 50s and had a leg injury. He got up and went to work, come rain or shine or illness.
And I learned that lesson well from him. I work from home, a setting that might make it easy for many people to find excuses not to work. But I get up and start work early every day and stay busy until quitting time. Over the years it is probably this discipline that has been one of the major factors in my success. If you put in the work and the effort good things happen.
He taught me other lessons in life. My father was big on pithy sayings. I think the one that I remember the most was, “it doesn’t cost anything to be polite.” It turns out the rest of the family doesn’t remember this one, so perhaps I was the youngster in the most need of this advice. But throughout life I have been polite. I say “yes, sir” and “yes, ma’am” almost universally, and I think I often surprise young people when I say this to them.
One of his lessons that I try to practice daily is to be pleasant to everybody you meet. I always said that my father could have been the mayor of his town had he wanted because he always greeted everybody he met with a big grin, a big hug, and a good joke to get them laughing. It’s hard to think that there was anybody who didn’t like my father. I have met very few people in this life who had such a genuine affinity for people. I certainly will never be as natural about this as he was, but I genuinely like talking and working with people, which is a major part of the day for a consultant.
It’s interesting how all of us carry forward things from our parents. I guess it’s human nature to emulate those who had the biggest influences on you when you were young. But I carry traits from both of my parents into my daily life and these traits have served me well.
In case you are wondering, my dad died of a decade-long fight with Alzheimer’s. In the last few years a lot of what he had been was gone or diminished, but I guess some of what he was lives on in me and my siblings. And in my dad’s case, he hopefully lives on in all of the people that he hugged every time he saw them.