“My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person, he believed in me.” -Jim Valvano

This past Sunday, I joined millions of sons and daughters across the globe as we celebrated our fathers.  I’m incredibly lucky to have mine in my life and as I get older, I’m beginning to realize just how awesome he is.  There comes a time in a lot of kids’ lives that dad IS Superman, then he becomes goofy (especially when you bring a date home to meet the parents or when you’re seen in public with them), then once again, he becomes the Man of Steel.

I thought I’d share a few takeaways I’ve learned from Dad over the past few decades and how it relates to where I am today in my career.

Be yourself & honor your word.  Always do what you say you’ll do.  When you’re at work, be there 110% and hold true to your word.  Dad never made crazy promises that he couldn’t keep.  When I asked for something he wasn’t sure about, he said, “we’ll see” or “maybe”.  As a kid, that drove me absolutely bonkers.  But as an adult, I understand why he did it.  Under-promise, but over-deliver.  This is very helpful in any career.

Know when to take a break.  Work hard, play hard.  When you’re away from work, do things that matter most to you.  Spend time with family and friends.  If you’re always too busy to have a little fun and relax, people will stop inviting you to be part of the fun.  Learn how to let go for a moment and take a vacation.  This allows your mind to take a break, clearing your head for productivity and innovation when you’re back at work.  Try it sometime!

Know when to put your foot down.  As a kid, dad lets us get away with a LOT.  But, he always knew when to draw the line.  He knew when enough was enough. Knowing when to put your foot down at work can help you with coworkers and the management of employees as well as helping develop your management style.  It’s okay to be lenient and flexible, but don’t let people walk all over you.  Be tenacious, but kind!

Have a sense of humor.  Life is funny.  My dad can tell the best jokes with the perfect punch-line.  Learning how to laugh at life helps us get through challenging situations.  Don’t take yourself too seriously.  What seemed like the “end of days” at one point can be really funny when you look at it later.  Step back and have a chuckle.  Then, move on.

Here’s a picture of me and my dad having fun, not taking ourselves too seriously…

On Sunday, I tweeted “Things Dad has taught me: How to make perfect pancakes, laugh a lot, ride a bicycle, work hard & pay it forward. What about you? Please share!”.  Here are some of the responses I got:

@nikkidiorio: My dad taught me to love music, to be generous, to work hard, how to be funny, and that love transcends distance.

@KellyLux: My dad taught me to love dogs, wine, food & photography, to stand up 4 myself & my opinions & that being *grown up* is boring.

@LisaTetzloff: My dad taught me how to handle money. He was so proud when I saved for a special bike I wanted. He still talks about it!

@NikiRudolph: My dad taught me my sense of direction, how to drive a stick shift & to not speak poorly of ppl.

There are a lot of families where one parent is both Mom and Dad.  I can’t forget these wonderful people.  This response stood out:

@KARupert: things mom taught me in place of Dad: how to ride a bike, drive stick shift, throw a softball, and be confident in myself.

These, along with the above responses, are just a few of the things that Dad has taught us over the years.  The great part about this is that we’re still learning from him.  We may not all be close with our fathers.  Some of us never got the chance to know him.  In my opinion, that simply provides the opportunity to grow as an individual, developing into the perfect superhero for our kids.

I’d like to leave you with the quote below.  It speaks volumes to the importance of being a dad.

“Any man can be a Father but it takes someone special to be a dad.”

-Anne Geddes

What have you learned from dad (or mom)? Please feel free to add your comments!

Photo credit: paurian (Super Dad) & Chris Billings (Superman/Supergirl standee)


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