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HOW TO SUCCEED - building bridges.

Updated on September 1, 2013

Klaus J. Lada

1926 - 2004
1926 - 2004

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 :)

Wish we could still be in his loving, joyous arms...
Wish we could still be in his loving, joyous arms...

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:

such a kidder - received emails like this all the time
such a kidder - received emails like this all the time

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...

Vacations were amazing - full time with our GREAT Dad!
Vacations were amazing - full time with our GREAT Dad!

Like father, like son...

look at those genuine smiles :)
look at those genuine smiles :)

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

my first autograph book. His was on the very back cover - naturally
my first autograph book. His was on the very back cover - naturally
and gave me my ticket to freedom ...
and gave me my ticket to freedom ...

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

the playhouse and pool...
the playhouse and pool...

Cloud 9!

In the middle of a love sandwich between the two most special men in the world!
In the middle of a love sandwich between the two most special men in the world!

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

He wouldn't talk about his challenges at all - just kept people laughing and loving him...
He wouldn't talk about his challenges at all - just kept people laughing and loving him...

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,

his lessons are worthy of heeding
his lessons are worthy of heeding

"Don't burn your bridges - it's a small world and you just never know"

One of my Dad's amazing photos - sunset in White Rock, BC
One of my Dad's amazing photos - sunset in White Rock, BC

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?


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    • SEM Pro profile imageAUTHOR

      SEM Pro 

      8 years ago from North America

      Thank you dear Sir - that means a lot to me. He was an exceptional man. Ironically he read 2-3 books a day but kept me from pursuing my desires through the years of writing them because he didn't believe there was enough money in it, or that I needed things like a PhD to sell enough of them. He could have written many himself, and everyone would have benefited greatly. You would have liked him - he kept everyone in stitches laughing constantly - the quickest wit ever - the sharpest mind - and his understanding of human nature and people was uncanny. Thanks for visiting and saying what you have. Whenever I'm down or tempted to go into anything similar to a pity party, I hear him saying, "You'll be just fine. You're like a cat - you'll always land on your feet." and so I get up, dust myself off, and keep moving forward with gratitude in my heart and a smile.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Great writing as usual and a wonderful thing for your father. He would be proud of you even more today, I am certain. CC

    • SEM Pro profile imageAUTHOR

      SEM Pro 

      9 years ago from North America

      Thanks emohealer - he was indeed a very special man! His second wife begrudged the fact that he essentially had a life before her. It cost me not being able to spend time with him as an adult. Whenever he'd agree with me, she'd throw months worth of a tantrum.

      She actually even said one time while giving me hell that her and my relationship had nothing to do with me, it was all about her and how she felt. When he agreed with her on that, I knew he knew, it was futile for me to try to appease her.

      She yelled at me for 45 minutes the other week, essentially trying to convince me he didn't love me - I was too "despicable a human being to love" - thus, this hub was born. I knew he was too great a man not to have felt deep love for his own flesh and blood. So you see, the differences I wrote of, were not between he and I.

      I very much appreciate you coming by to honor him! I too think he knew exactly how I felt - he was very, very wise :)

    • emohealer profile image

      Sioux Ramos 

      9 years ago from South Carolina

      I keep finding new and wonderful hubs here. You came by everything in life honestly. How beautiful this is. Sounds as if your Dad did know in his lifetime how you felt, so nice for you to still be sharing now. Thank You!

    • SEM Pro profile imageAUTHOR

      SEM Pro 

      9 years ago from North America

      Thank you for visiting and commenting Peggy. I am so glad to hear you were as fortunate. From what I know of you so far, the foundation he provided served and formed your own wonderful character well.

      Your reminder of honoring our dads on the fan mail you left as well, will be cherished eternally.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      9 years ago from Houston, Texas

      What a truly wonderful (and handsome) father you had. As I was reading your tribute I thought that the vast majority of it fit my Dad perfectly as well. We are both fortunate to have had such strong upstanding men as our fathers.

    • SEM Pro profile imageAUTHOR

      SEM Pro 

      9 years ago from North America

      BTW - HAPPY BIRTHDAY JACQUES! I am SOOOO PROUD of you that you've decided to focus that inherent Cancerian support and wisdom where it needs to be right now. Often when our relationships get "rocky" we can remain stubborn thinking, "bring it on! I can handle ugly for awhile - try me!!!" But for our impressionable teenagers, viewing "ugly" when they're figuring out what relationships are all about, can mess them up for decades - as can your life and Laura's be less than beautiful for ages with procrastinating true, honest communication. So it's not only for your kids - but for you. I commend you and success for all of you will be in my prayers/visualization!!!

    • SEM Pro profile imageAUTHOR

      SEM Pro 

      9 years ago from North America

       Whew Jacques – after 3 decades you can still render me speechless - - eyelashes fluttering like a shy little schoolgirl… thank you for your kind words… It is my loss that I could not appreciate the length and depth of support you offered. As you know, I had a few mountains I was determined to climb and had to prove, more to myself than anyone, that I could reach the top on my own. Alas, that is a subject for a whole other hub.

      Thank you for your call today – and your own solid, logical, foundational wisdom. I am so glad your son was the first to wish you Happy Dad’s day! Kinda wish you’d been ready before 37+ to have kids – you are undoubtedly an incredible Dad! Without looking backward in time - - - I am truly glad you finally did. Parenting is an awesome experience – nothing like it!

      HAPPY DAD’S DAY to yet another amazing man! I love you too Jacques

    • profile image

      Jacques Da Bear 

      9 years ago

      Having perhaps more first hand experience with your dad than any of the others, all I can say is wow!!

      I had not realized the depth of your understanding of the situation he was living in at the time when we were together in TO, but after reading this I find myself in awe of your insight and can only offer my heartfelt agreement with all that you have said. He truly did form and mold you into the person you were then and are today. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed talking with him on those few occasions we went to see him. I remember him asking me wether I was capable of keeping pace with his daughter and willing to accept her as the "person" she was, and not pushing my iterpretation of the person Iwanted her to be on her. It took me a while at the time, to come up with an answer, but when I told him that I was not sure whether they were not the same, all he said was "wait and see, don't push." I am not sure I followed his advice, but I do know that you are still one of the very few people in my life that I have and still do truly love. Maybe that's what he meant. I am so glad that I was able to find you again!

    • SEM Pro profile imageAUTHOR

      SEM Pro 

      9 years ago from North America

      Wow James - I take back what I said on fan mail. You do just fine in the "whole other ball of giddy fuzzy" category with a single comment. Feels more appropriately, as a caress of the soul - I am deeply humbled - thank you so much *hug* :)

      BTW > Wasn't he though! "Easy on the eyes" is my favorite expression :)

    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 

      9 years ago from Chicago

      SEM Pro— You continue to amaze me with your depth of understanding of human nature. You are blessed with an amazing brain. I love reading your insights and perceptions. BTW—your father was also a very handsome man!

    • SEM Pro profile imageAUTHOR

      SEM Pro 

      9 years ago from North America

      Thank you so much James. I’m pleased beyond words that you came by because you do strike me as being the type of Dad my Dad was. I too hope your “youguns” remember to honor you today with all the love and joy that can possibly be displayed. If they don’t however, please don’t take it personally.

      On a recent long drive with my future son-in-law, he told horror stories about situations he remembered as a child, venomously painting his parents as absolute monsters. I’ve spent much time with his parents and they are amazingly respectable and honorable people. They’ve spent their lives dedicated to creating a prosperous and wonderful future for their children with a successful and established business, no worries about ever being homeless, unloved, or hurting in any way.

      He said my daughter had told him similar stories. I was shocked to realize that these young kids – who had more opportunity and blessings than the next few million kids put together – shared a common bond of remembering the few awful moments they had as kids when their parents were stressed or challenged. Rather than appreciating the depth of love and sacrifices that have paved their way for as bright a future as they can fathom accepting, they chose to remain emotionally stuck in blame.

      Perhaps it is human nature not to “look for a pony” or understand until we can empathize. Life is imperfect. People and parents are imperfect. If we, for even a few moments however, choose to paint our memories with a positive brush, our wounds heal.

      I told my son-in-law how incredible he is and whatever his parents did, it made him who he is today. There is a pearl on the other side of every hardship. That pearl has made us stronger or changed our perception for greater awareness. He offered the key for my own understanding by responding, “what if we don’t like who we are?” Thus, the first step must be to like ourselves. Once we do, we begin to love others as well. Then, we will find the pony…

      I hope you have found your own pony James. Dads everywhere deserve a whole herd of them!

    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 

      9 years ago from Chicago

      You had the Dad of all dads.  This is an incredible tribute to an obviously wonderful man who created and nurtured a fabulous daughter.  To think, after reading this, that there are some in America who see dads as utterly superfluous.  I know that you know—that is far from true.  Thank you so much.

    • SEM Pro profile imageAUTHOR

      SEM Pro 

      9 years ago from North America

      Thank you for your visit Sanju - and of course your comment. I believe if we shed light on our Dads to recognize how hard they try and how many great qualities they have or had, compassion and empathy become our own gifts too. From what you've shared, your husband deserves some kudos for being a great dad too - happy Dad's Day to him and thank you for your well wishes :)

    • hilltrekker profile image


      9 years ago

      Thanks Sylvia for writing this hub. Through this tribute now many of us came to know about your great and loving dad. The words are so true and touching:- " learned that dishonesty was very bad - and so was waste without consideration for someone else's desires. "

      Happy father's day!

    • SEM Pro profile imageAUTHOR

      SEM Pro 

      9 years ago from North America

      Empathy helps us understand much, doesn't it Alex? I'm glad to hear you too shed light on the subject with time and wisdom - the view is so much better when we do...

      Enjoy every second of the relationship with your son Alex - you've earned your pride!

      And yes, my father was an exceptional man! If I can figure out how to edit a video into a mini clip on YouTube, I'll add what a couple of the people at his Celebration of Life ceremony said. It wasn't just a daughter's rose colored glasses who knew him as a truly inspirational man to be around - every moment was an honor.

      The stories of his adaptability, tests, challenges and accomplishments to even survive them yet alone thrive and rise higher and higher, make me grateful for my own tests and challenges if it means reaching anywhere near the state of presence and kindness he reached.

      His second wife was the solid rock he needed to support him in going up the steepest and most challenging mountains victoriously. The second half of this (originally) letter I wrote was honoring her for all she meant to him, all she had done for him, and gratitude for her being as strong and dedicated to him as she was.

      Both were so strong they fought to the finish line. She usually won which meant they both did - every day. She organized and ran their business, home, activities (hiking and bridge) and extended vacations 3-4 times a year, with precision and astuteness. She helped him build an empire and live life to it's fullest.

      Oh that we could all aspire to be that balanced and committed to relationships and goal oriented these days - we would all win so much. They were astounding role models - even if from a distance... 

      Glad you stopped by Alex - my best to you on your continued journey as a great Dad! You are loved by the whole universe for that :) HAPPY FATHER'S DAY!

    • SEM Pro profile imageAUTHOR

      SEM Pro 

      9 years ago from North America

      Hawkesdream that is a beautiful tribute to your father - thank you!

    • AlexK2009 profile image


      9 years ago from Edinburgh, Scotland

      Great Hub,

      I had a bad relationship with my father, but as I got older I came to appreciate why he did what he did.

      My relationship with my son is good. That is one of the achievements of which I am proudest.

      You hada great father.

    • Hawkesdream profile image


      9 years ago from Cornwall

      My Dad, taught me to be happy with whatever choices I made, he taught that regretting undone things, is pointless, as I wouldn't be who I am, if I had done them.

      I have no regrets.

    • SEM Pro profile imageAUTHOR

      SEM Pro 

      9 years ago from North America

      Thank you so much Jodi! I was hoping it would be contagious - there are so many great Dads out there. Remembering all the "stuff" in the positive light they radiated heals too.

      I very much appreciate your words

    • Jodi Hoeksel profile image

      Jodi Hoeksel 

      9 years ago

      This is so beautiful, SemPro! What a lovely tribute. Thank you for sharing your lovely memories. Remembering is contagious!! : )


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