I lost my dad last week after a long battle with various health issues. He was 84 years old. My belief is he died of a broken heart after losing my mom 5 years ago.
Despite our constant battles, I always told dad I loved him and wished that I could remove his pain.
The last good moment with my dad was about two weeks ago when I started spending the night at his bedside, which I’m so glad I did. Dad had been sleeping most of the day and hadn’t been eating at all. I was next to him watching the baseball game when dad suddenly woke up. He asked why I was there and when I told him that I didn’t want him to be alone, he smiled, and asked if I could get him an ice cream pop. I was absolutely thrilled that he wanted to eat something. I got him the ice cream from his freezer, removed the wrapper, and gave it to him. He seemed so happy just being in bed eating his ice cream.
We had a nice conversation about the baseball game and a few trivial things I don’t remember. He finished his ice cream and went to sleep. I’m so glad that I was there for that final moment.
Naturally, I’ve been thinking a lot about my dad and some of the life lessons he taught me that remain important today in business, with family, and in life.
Here are some of my favorites!
Stand Your Ground
When I was in grade school, I was one of the smallest kids in class. I would often get picked on. And not the social media kind of picked on. Dad told me not to let myself get pushed around by anyone. And when the time came, I didn’t.
Stay Focused on the Problem at Hand
My dad never let an issue go (for better or worse!) until it was resolved. Looking for that little red bag with his keys in it, replacing the car battery, or getting me through my paper route in the bad weather. We spend so much time multitasking which is sometimes unavoidable. Often if we focus on solving the one problem or the biggest problem, it’s easier to handle the smaller stuff.
Be On Time
This should be a given but it’s not. When you’re early for meetings or events, people respect you. More importantly, it takes the stress out of rushing to get somewhere. Besides, when you’re early, there is time to review notes, grab a cup of coffee, get a table, check email, and handle other tasks.
There is no substitute for hard work. My dad used to tell me to work on being the best I can be at whatever I was doing. Again, people are attracted to hard workers because they tend to be good at what they do and try to do the best for their clients, customers, family, friends, and for themselves.
Take Care of Yourself
My dad always lifted weights and made sure he was in tip top shape to handle bad guys as a NYC police officer. He encouraged me to lift weights and learn how to handle myself. I think of my dad every time I’m in the ring fighting off bad guys. Taking care of yourself will also make you feel good, be more confident, and be more focused at work and play. Again, the respect thing.
Look Behind You Before Leaving
If you look behind you (or around) before leaving wherever you are, you will almost never forget anything. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve walked away from where I was sitting and looked back to see that I would have left my phone, a book, a set of keys, or on one occasion my backpack. This is especially true when you park your car. Before walking away, look back to see if you left lights on, a door or window open, or something on the roof. What a great habit!
Never Let the Driver Behind You Drive Your Car
Ever get anxious when someone is on your tail when you’re driving? When I was learning how to drive and someone was right in back of me, my dad told me to let them pass by and not to change what I was doing provided I was in the right. How often do we let others influence what we do? If you truly believe you’re doing the right thing, stand your ground. This gets back to my first point.
Help Others Without Expecting Anything in Return
Hold a door open for someone, help carry a bag, pay for someone’s coffee, make a valuable introduction, refer someone business. And smile. Who couldn’t use a smile to get them through their day?
Although my dad never meant these life lessons to be applied to business, I challenge you to apply these ideas to your business and not have a positive outcome.
Especially if you’re a financial advisor, broker, planner, agent, rep, or wholesaler.
Dad, I appreciate all that you have taught me. It has helped me be a better businessperson, husband, and father. And of course, a better driver!
Thank you for being a great father and for taking care of us always.
Rest in peace. And take care of my mom.