“The quieter you become, the more you are able to hear.” – Rumi
In honor of Father’s Day yesterday, I want to share a few of the lessons my dad has taught me.
Although many of the lessons were taught through his words and actions when I was a kid, my dad’s most significant teachings occurred more recently, without any words and with very limited actions.
As a kid, I was pretty sure my dad could do anything.
The earliest memories I have of Dad are school mornings. He’d come into my room singing a marching song he learned in the army to wake me up to get ready for school.
Then we’d have breakfast, he’d kiss Mom goodbye, shuttle six kids off to school, and work a full day. He’d always be home by dinner, smiling, engaged, and sincerely interested in our days.
Never once did I hear about the stress of his work as a trial attorney or the difficulties of running a firm. His focus was always on his family.
As kids, Dad taught us to: swim, waterski, ride bikes and then eventually to drive a car, use a stick shift, read a map and dock a pontoon boat.
He taught us how to love our spouses and made certain that each of us kids felt that we were his favorite.
In high school and college, I started learning more about who my dad was as a person through his stories of: family trips as a kid, his father’s professional success and subsequent loss, and what it was like to be the youngest of six in the 1940’s, attend school in the 50’s, and lose friends in Vietnam in the 60’s.
I learned that, unbelievably, he never missed a day of school (grade school all the way through law school). I learned how he met my mom and fell for her right away. And I learned that she was his first and only love.
Through his example it was clear that humor breaks tension, softens truth, lowers boundaries, and helps us to connect with others; that a real man goes to church and sings loudly while there – even if out of tune; and that serving others in their time of need fulfills our needs, too.
His example allowed me to see him not just as my good dad, but as a great man.
When my dad was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease almost three decades ago, his life began to dramatically change.
Stress causes the symptoms of the disease to progress more quickly, so he was soon unable to work trial law; then unable to work in law; then unable to work at all.
He slowly lost the ability to run, then walk, then drive, then speak.
Yet after decades of battling Parkinson’s disease with the assistance of his first and only love, my mom, he maintains his ever-present humor and faith, and continues to teach and model what real masculinity, fatherhood and success look like.
Today, through his mostly silent days he continues to teach me that:
- We are much more than the jobs we have, the status we attain, and the wealth we accumulate.
- The quieter you are, the more you are able to really hear…and the better you understand.
- God works through all things including massive challenges with kids, professional difficulties, tragic fires and deteriorating health.
- Pursuing success is important, but eventually the day comes when we realize the most important things in life were already within us.
Today I have a wife. Four children. Deal with professional challenges, pursue personal dreams, long for greater faith, and hope to impact more lives through mine.
And hope to be the example to my little ones as my dad was to me.
This is your day. Live Inspired.
What lessons have you learned through your father’s life? Please share in the comments below.