- Family and Parenting
HOW TO SUCCEED - building bridges.
Klaus J. Lada
After my Dad passed away, a friend of mine helped me through my grief by asking, “What did you learn from your Father?” It was a profound question enabling me to turn every memory into a positive pearl of wisdom. The words flowed easily without any hesitation or forethought so I wrote them down, honoring all the solid foundations he taught to build bridges for success.
He was the most incredible person I have ever known and every Father’s Day, when I miss him, and whenever I need encouragement, I re-read these words. Although the feelings were always there, I wish I'd written them while he was still alive to easily rise above any differences of opinion or allowing life's hectic schedule to interfere with telling or showing him how much I loved him more often.
Perhaps you have the time to do so for your own Dad?
My DAD :)
These are the words and feelings that came spilling out of me: "I learned honor & respect; discipline; humor; appreciation for life, for nature, for something greater than ourselves. He displayed a strong work ethic; how to accept responsibility with pride; how to see the good in people; and how to have fun! Watching him, I learned how to stay calm in a crisis: to rise above, to keep a cool head, and do whatever had to be done in the face of adversity (“detachment”).
He led by example and showed the importance of how to trust ourselves first and foremost by keeping our word.
My Dad was always joking:
He took me to see "J.L.S."
My dad was always cracking puns or telling jokes. Raised with his quick wit and humor, I learned to see the comical in life, to view things with a greater perspective, finding the cure of laughter concerning the human condition.
He showed me salesmanship - how to be of service and give back to society whenever we can. As an entrepreneur, his lessons of striving for a better way of life were inspirational. He advised investing in land because, "they're not making any more of it".
He showed me that if you intend to have what you want, you have to take risks, BIG risks. Those risks don't always pan out, but it's OK. Life goes on and if you have done it once, you can do it again - each attempt builds strength. Political or economic situations do not have to provide an excuse for defeat; they are mere stepping stones to greater achievements.
He taught me how to focus and how much one can achieve when you do. He displayed loyalty, determination and persistence, the most cherished assets to keep going when things are tough. Even more importantly, he showed me how to have and live with integrity. My father definitely "walked the talk".
Always showing us how much there is to do in life...
Like father, like son...
Let him know how much he means to you while you still can
My Dad was an optimist to the core. It is from him that I learned one can decide to look at the bad, or look at the good - it is our choice. When I was little, he told me a story about pessimism vs. optimism in a way I could understand:
“They wanted to see if they could change a pessimist to an optimist and vice versa. So they put a pessimistic child in a room filled with every toy a kid could possibly want. They put an optimist in a stable piled high to the ceiling with horse manure. After a few hours, they went back to see if circumstances had changed their outlooks and attitudes. First, they looked in on the pessimist and he was sitting on the floor angry and near tears so they asked, "What is wrong?" The pessimist started explaining all the reasons he had not to be happy. “If I play on the skateboard I could fall down and hurt myself; I'm frustrated because I can't build anything out of the Legos, and on and on he lamented.
They went to the optimist and could hear him whistling happily even before they reached him. As they peered in, they saw he had found a stick and was shoveling the manure with a smile. “What on earth do you have to feel happy about?” they asked. The optimist simply said, “With all this manure, there has to be a pony somewhere!”
That story was a key to "looking for a pony somewhere", no matter how much "s--t" is piled up. Attitude is the bottom line, and he knew how to motivate and inspire a great one!
He taught me how to love
He taught me how to show love rather than just say, "I love you". By walking the talk, I learned the importance of looking inward to know ourselves rather than stay in judgment of others. Although he had his opinions and kept few in his life that did not follow the way he thought it ought to be, I never felt forgiveness was missing. The latter expressed in words could be summed up as one of the greatest treasures - unconditional love.
He taught me how to play chess and think three dimensionally; how to drive defensively; how to take pride in a job well done and give everything one has to doing it well so there'd be no regrets. I remember starting a paper-route at 11 years old because our delivery guy arrived too late for him to read it. The apathetic nature angered him. His expressed appreciation of my prompt deliveries and doing a good job meant more to me than anything else at the time. It changed my life. Within a few weeks, I was delivering over 975 papers and learned financial independence. He encouraged me to take Judo to protect myself - helping overcome the fear of physical violation.
He took care of family first - before his own wants and desires
He would reward himself by buying his own "toys" like boats or airplanes but first, took care of our needs. My mom had the convertible she wanted and he'd built us a playhouse and pool.
He would punish me on the word of my mother sure, but one time, when it really, really mattered, he did not take her word for it. She had sent me to my room for "stealing" 13 ribbons at my first track meet. Deflated after the day's triumphs, just the thought of his disappointment crushed me as I waited for him to return home. Instead, he told my mom, "she's my daughter too" then exuberantly asked what I had won them in. My enthusiasm & pride returned - I was back on Cloud 9 instantly.
One time, the only one I can remember without my mother's prompting, he did punish me. I'd been doing the dishes and wanted to taste his cold coffee. There was maybe an ounce and a half left. I dared try it. After a mere swallow ( it was so disgusting), I instantly tossed the rest and washed the glass. He came in, wanting to finish it. Without thinking, I lied and said there hadn't been any left. He spanked me and made sure I knew that the punishment was not for the little bit of coffee, but for lying. I learned that dishonesty was very bad - and so was waste without consideration for someone else's desires.
One of the philosophies he lived by
Wanting to emulate him - I tried hard and got straight A’s in school, not because of the promised reward of a dollar each, but because of the pride he expressed when he saw my report cards. How did I know this? Because the same pride was there for any athletic accomplishments as well - no dollars - just Dad's clear approval.
This lesson helped me strive to do everything to the best of my ability – a foundational bridge for achievement... Somehow, this also taught me that you just don't quit anything. Until you've mastered it, how can you know if you like it and want to continue doing it or not?
He taught me to accept the cards we're dealt
The "Sound of Music" - I felt his pain but he refused to indulge in self pity
He taught me to accept the cards you are dealt. I learned this by his few accounts of World War II. Just the way he talked about it and lived with harsh prejudice from others, made me realize I needed to get to know someone before assuming how they felt or what they believed. Circumstances can be out of our control sometimes but that's no reason to pity ourselves - we have to move forward. It also helped me understand I probably wouldn't ever have to experience anything as difficult as what he survived.
In the seven years he struggled with cancer, his attitude with his illness confirmed that acceptance - he never lost his 'joix de vivre'. My Dad seemed determined to 'even out' any bad karma in this lifetime and whatever that took; he would face it, conquer it, and be grateful for the wisdom that accompanied it – the ultimate bridge for success.
As dramatically as he mellowed over the years, I saw that all he taught me - works.
I asked my Dad to contribute to a book series about life lessons while he was still alive. After all, who better to ask than the person who had taught me so many of mine?
As a successful entrepreneur,
"Don't burn your bridges - it's a small world and you just never know"
The question was if he could describe, in just a few paragraphs, when he learned a valuable life lesson and what circumstances helped him realize it.
This is what he shared:
"In 1975 a couple of ambitious real estate agents formed a company to transact property sales. They asked me to join them in name only because they wanted my name on their letterhead. Since I had so many initials after my name they felt it would give them some prestige. Well, I must have agreed somehow during some absent minded conversation. But then I forgot all about it.
Needless to say - they used this company to make side deals with clients they stole from the Trust company which employed them. And - they got caught. And - you guessed it: The Trust company sued them AND ME because my name was on the letterhead. I never received a nickel out of that company and now I had to hire a lawyer, pay him and the fine. My wife was madder than a wet cat and wanted to call the 2 agents and curse them. I said NO. Forget it, we learned a lesson.
3 months later one of the agents who was fired immediately by the Trust company got a new job with a BIG Bank and out of gratitude sent all their appraisal business to me - which made me several hundred thousand dollars. THAT WAS THE REAL LESSON: Don't burn your bridges - it is a small world and you just never know."
Auf wiedersehen Vati - I LOVE YOU!
Writing how much my Dad gave and showed me, was a way not to burn the bridges for success he'd taught how to build - or let them fade with time.
I'm sure my Dad's heart would have been warmed reading this acknowledgement for all he displayed and why I loved, appreciated and respected him so very much. It may take our whole lives to absorb or live up to all they taught, but turning the adversities to pearls helps overcome any bad memories as well. Thus, doing this might help you too. Maybe even put it on a Father's Day card for him now? Believe me, you'll miss him like crazy one day too...
What did you learn from your Dad?