My father and I have always had a unique and often, unspoken bond. Like most fathers and their daughters he knows me better than almost anyone, can pinpoint every button I have to push, and has made countless sacrifices throughout my life to make sure I’m fed, groomed, equipped and happy.
The strong silent type, my dad is the kind of person who doesn’t care much for gossip, would rather spend his days golfing and has spent every day of his life working harder than anyone I know. He can fix anything, tells me what I need to hear instead of what I want to hear, does whatever he needs to do to provide for his family and when he has an opinion, people listen. It’s because of his modesty, this all goes more often than not without the praise he deserves and he’s OK with that. My Dad is basically Super Man.
Now, I’m not your typical Daddy’s Girl. Both of my parents have always been straightforward with me. There was no protecting me from the world with metaphors about storks and blossoming fruit. Instead I was prepared for the world with honesty and direct conversations, always being spoken to like an adult; and it’s through our friendship that I’ve learned to be responsible, self-starting and kind. Father’s Day is this Sunday and instead of giving my Dad a card and a new golf shirt, I wanted to share six life lessons I’ve learned from him and being Daddy’s girl.
1. Work. Hard.
I come from a long line of hard working people. When you grow up Southern, you learn quickly that paying your dues is a real thing and you will basically be paying them your entire life because let’s face it, there’s always work to be done. Watching my dad work hard in his career, in how he maintains his home, even his golf game is something that I’ve always looked up to and has helped shape me into a perfectly annoying perfectionist (#sorrynotsorry). The reward that comes from putting forth your best work and achieving results and making positive change is something that I’ll always value. Even if something comes easily to you, work hard at it.
2. Follow through with your commitments.
There’s a reason people don’t like flakers and my Dad has always been an anti-flake zone. Even if he doesn’t want to do something, if he’s already committed – he’s doing it. This could be a trait to a fault but it’s something I’ve always admired and try to keep top of mind. If I have to break a commitment, I provide as much notice as possible and do my best to reschedule or if work-related, find another solution.
3. Own up to your mistakes.
Shit happens. You’ll hurt someone’s feelings. Or you’ll just flat out do the wrong thing. Even so, don’t take the easy route and just ignore the problem and hope it will fix itself (I think we all know that rarely works). Own up to it and learn from it. One of the best practices I’ve executed, especially in my career, is admitting when I’m wrong. It helps ease tension between you and your colleagues and speeds things towards a solution.
4. Think things through.
My dad is a worrier. And he will tell me every possible scenario as to why I probably shouldn’t do something and that’s OK. This has helped me prepare for every possible outcome in my life’s choices and though things can still come out of the blue, at least I’m ready for them. When I was living in Atlanta and Sam and I were just dating, not even engaged, I decided to quit my perfectly secure job and move to Los Angeles for a shot at making this relationship work. Needless to say, Daddy was not happy and I really can’t blame him. But I took his advice to heart, thought everything through, prepared for every possibility and still made the move. The best thing about lessons is that so long you know the consequences you are totally fine to make alternative decisions for yourself. Sometimes you gotta take risks but being prepared for their outcome is what helps take them from the unknown to totally worth it.
5. Be the bigger person.
This is probably the toughest and most important lesson I’ve taken away from my Dad. Being the bigger person can be hard – especially when you’re quick witted and really good with words (#justsayin). I remember being a kid and getting all worked up about something or other and my Dad would listen to everything and then say, “What would the bigger person do?” Even as an adult I find myself asking that question now and then. Knowing what to do and actually doing what needs to be done are two totally different things. What’s important is to know yourself and always take the higher route no matter how difficult it may be; and remember, kindness always wins.
6. Always say I love you.
I can’t think of a single time in my life that my Dad has gotten off the phone with me and not told me he loves me. No matter how short the conversation or how mad at each other we may be, those words are always shared. Life is short. We never know what the day will bring or what conversation will be our last and I like to think of this lesson as a reminder of that. To not hold back feelings or live in regret, but surround yourself with the people you love and make sure they know it.
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Photo courtesy Jordan Weiland Photography