I’ve always loved Father’s Day. It always me of my father and many of my friend’s fathers. As I get older it’s funny how similar the men in my life resemble our dads. My father would have been 90 this year.
I live in the house that I built with my father. I recently found a stash of photos that he had put aside when he was still healthy. I found his selection interesting for many reasons, just in time for Father’s Day. Most of all because each photo had a story about something we learned together. A critical lesson that helped me become the man I am today.
My father loved to teach. I still have many of the books we shared growing up. He just loved sharing stories that always made a point. Sometimes with humor, sometimes with tears. I don’t think he ever thought how his stories could change the person he was telling them to. But I did.
He is why I love teaching and being a student so much. All the great people in my life are teachers first, then leaders. It’s a powerful combination. It a shared quality I look for in both friends and clients.
What did you learn from your father? I think you’d be surprised by the many different lessons you learned from these men who invested in our lives to pass on the best kind of wealth to future generations.
My Father’s First Life Lesson was make your future brighter than your past. When I think of my dad, I think how he instilled in me a sense of optimism in the future. No matter what I did he would support me in my decision, even when it might be wrong. He believed that the best way to learn is by doing. I’ve done a lot.
There’s a picture of me with the Gold Kirby watch that I got from the world’s best sweeper salesman Corwin Riley. When I came home with my first professional job after college selling vacuum sweepers, he supported my decision.
He told he that he would not buy one until I was there for 6 months. I ended up doing it for 10 months and he never did by a Kirby. He would always tell me things would be brighter in the future. He was right when in 1986 Mr. Buffett bought the company, and I cleaned up.
My Father’s Second Life Lesson was always focus on contribution first then compensation. Many of my best clients tell me that they reason hired me was because I focused on what’s best for them first. I was willing to invest significant time in learning about what their goals and dreams were. What were they trying to accomplish and then how might they achieve these goals together?
My father had a photo of the space shuttle with the robotic arm extended to remind him of my work at Rockwell International early in my technical consulting career. It was a thrill for both of us. He couldn’t believe that his son with an art degree was working in a new emerging field called artificial intelligence.
When you focus on contribution first it’s much easier to recruit people for your teams. So many technical leaders miss knowing what motivates other people. If you can help people feel like they are contributing to something larger than themselves, they can accomplish amazing things.
Throughout history we can see how men and women have changed the world by focusing on their contribution to society first. Many of these leaders have become very wealthy in the process.
My Father’s Third Life Lesson was learning how to trust yourself and then others. This was harder than it sounds. My father taught me to succeed in life you must know how to trust yourself first.
So many executives I’ve interviewed have struggled with this critical life lesson. They have a difficult time trusting themselves. Because of this they can’t trust others. I’m sure you know how this story ends up. Its not pretty.
He felt many people had great ideas, but few trusted themselves enough to act on them. They would focus on their uncertainty until they couldn’t or wouldn’t act. He taught me how to get others to trust themselves and their instincts. It has provided me lifelong relationships with many differnt clients and friends.
The foundation of great leadership Is self-knowledge and trust in dealing with others. All the great leaders I’ve worked with have incredible self-awareness. They trust themselves and their teams. It allows them to achieve seemingly impossible goals.
When dealing with new ideas, it’s critical that your people feel that you are certain in the course you’ve chosen. They must also feel confident that you support the direction they are going. The more people see you trust them the more they will trust you.
What life lessons did you learn from your father? As you get together with family and friends this Father’s Day weekend take time to reflect on what lessons you learned from your dad. If he’s still with you make sure you give him a hug! Then pass them on to your children and grandchildren.
Happy Father’s Day, Pops!