Why is this about peeling back the layers? Because, in life, nothing is usually what it appears to be. I am moved to do something different for Father’s Day this year. Perhaps it is because I am mom to a newborn for the third time (lucky) now. There’s something about the sheer madness and magic of looking after a newborn that makes you cast your eyes anew at the sheer magnitude of what being a parent is all about.
Why does this matter? Because we are all made up of layers : complex, uncertain, often irrational and all these facets of who we are and what we do go into a unique mix to help create a picture of who we are in our mind. And it is that picture of who we are that we hold before us as we go out to create that in reality, in the personal and professional lives that we lead.
I am a mother. I know that our experiences as mothers and fathers are very different yet we are ultimately, all trying to be good parents. It is only now in being a parent that I can partially, yes partially, come to understand, the scope, the drama and the challenges of being a parent. You just cannot conceive of what this is, when you are a child. Yet, here I see and hear myself try to explain things to my children, as if with the hope that they will see what I see. And they don’t.
But what this post is really about is outlining the four most striking lessons my father taught me that would hold anyone well, not just in our day to day lives but in our work lives as well.
1. Be generous.
My dad has always been generous. He gives of his time, of his money, almost without a thought, and yet in that, you can see that it has been thought out in great detail. In life and in work, increasingly, I see that there is an expectation that people bring to their lives and to their roles, that they deserve something.
We all deserve something, don’t we? Imagine if everyone in the world went out the front door every morning, with a huge sense of entitlement… what kind of world would that be? Think about that for just a second. We need to be generous of our time, our mind, our spirit before we begin to ask others to be generous with theirs. It is the kind of world I would want to live in anyway.
2. Decide, then believe in it.
It’s easy to be wishy washy, to wait for someone else to make the leap and to allow the effect of time to make the call for you. Don’t believe for one minute that your non-decision is not a decision. Yet, if there’s going to be a decision, make it clear and make it firm.
My dad, through the years, has always come across as a firm decision maker. I was not so much bothered with whether the decisions were right or wrong in hindsight but it takes guts to go out there, in the open and make a decision, where none has been made. To be alone with that decision and to stand tall with it, which is what he did. He made decisions and he stood by them and we could all use lashings of this in our daily lives.
3. The devil is in the detail.
My dad has always been one for thoughtful gestures. They seem small and perhaps, easily forgotten because they don’t seem to ask much of him, in the giving. And if you aren’t too bothered and have no eye for detail, then it doesn’t seem too much in the receiving as well. But small gestures aren’t always small when received.
Small gesture? When I come over to visit my parents over the weekend, and if the weather looks like it will turn for the worse, my dad will drive his car out of the garage so that I can park in the garage when I arrive – so that all of us alight dry.
Small things do not go unnoticed.
Small gesture? My dad has, as far back as I can remember, been the sort of person who will write to the hotel manager/restaurant manager if he had a really good experience and commend the waitstaff or whatever he felt was part of the unique experience. He takes the time to put pen to paper. Likewise, he does the same if he is not happy with the service. Whether commendation or complaint, both are gifts. A complaint as far as I can see it, is a gift and a second chance to get things right.
4. Stand for what you believe in.
My dad has always stood for what he believed in, regardless of whether there were people to back him up, if it caused hardship, if it meant that he was viewed in a geeky straight laced kind of way. It did not matter. There was something inside him, a kind of moral light guiding his path and it was clear in the decisions he made and how he communicated that. In business and in life, we always need to stand for what we believe in. Sometimes, it is hard, I agree, when you are alone and no one seems to understand or when it just seems easier to turn the other way. But courage lights the way.
So there you have it – four lessons that have shaped me and that I believe hold true for anyone to live a good life.Thank you Benedict Morais
for being my father.
In tribute to fathers (and mothers too!) everywhere, I’d like to highlight three beautiful posts worth rebroadcasting :
I feel this is worth pinning to your desk to keep as a constant reminder of where and what we need to focus on as daily life gets in the way.
Heartfelt, beautiful and hopeful.
All little gems.
PS to my mom who is probably going to wonder how she didnt get a post of magnitude, please don’t read anything into the fact I have not written about mothers. I wouldn’t know where to start.