5 Lessons from Dad

Last month marked the 29th anniversary of my father’s death. He passed away suddenly and without warning from a brain aneurysm on a brilliantly beautiful Saturday morning. I was 12. My life would never be the same.

While I have posted versions of this article before on other platforms, I believe the lessons are as relevant as ever sop here it goes:

I didn’t get much time with my dad, but the time I did spend with him has paid off in spades. Here’s what I’ve taken from him and what I have learned from the experience of losing him at such an early age.

  1. Don’t sweat the small stuff: It’s easy in life and business to focus on the wrong things. We often obsess over issues and events that have very little impact on the big picture. Prioritizing where and what to stress over is critical. Stress on the things that matter, which is to say the things you have control over and that will have a significant impact on the desired outcome — whatever that may be.
  2. Common sense: In the global information economy, common sense is the new currency. In a world where power and influence has shifted to the masses and the web has forever changed how we live and work, the missteps made by those who lack common sense are amplified. Conversely, those who apply smart street sense rooted in strong common sense will separate themselves from the pack. We recently had an employee resign and for no good reason burn multiple bridges; a short-sighted move that will no doubt come back to haunt this individual. An example of a lack of common sense failing for the entire world to see.
  3. Laugh: Humor and the ability to see the lighter side of most circumstances will make you a nicer person. Your friends, family and co-workers will enjoy you more. There’s always a time and place to be serious but the ability to laugh or even smile will put others at ease and make you more endearing. This is true at home and in the workplace. Think about a boss that you’ve had that wouldn’t know humor if it landed in their lap. Now think of another boss who embraced humor in everything they did. With whom are you likely to be more loyal or use as a mentor?
  4. Smell the roses: I rarely do this, but we really should stop and smell the roses more often. We don’t celebrate our accomplishments often enough. Too many of us go from one task, job and right of passage to another without reflection. What’s the point of succeeding if you don’t enjoy it along the way?
  5. Family first: I save the most important lesson for last. Most of us want to succeed. We want to make money and earn recognition for the work we do. We crave getting that promotion and we want to achieve financial security that will bring peace of mind. Heck, many just want to get rich. None of it — and I mean nothing — matters if you don’t put family first. Having breakfast with your kids. Taking the day off to be with your significant other. Whatever your family situation is, investing in it will make you happier and more successful at work…and in life.

As my wife, kids and colleagues will attest, I don’t always practice what I preach, but I am trying. Twenty-nine years ago was a hellish time followed by lots of ups and downs. But the silver lining is that bad things can make you stronger. And, perhaps, that is the most important lesson of all.