Although known for being a world class comedian, my father was the consummate pragmatist. His ability to blend the bitter with the sweet echoed in many people’s hearts because that’s truly the essence of life. While some fathers raised their daughters by consistently heaping praise on them about how beautiful they were and how they could become anything they wanted, I received much more practical advice. Here’s the best of the best!
Earn Your Stripes! Dad used to tell the story about the young salesman who asked the old-timer how he had managed to be so successful. The old-timer replied “Good Judgment”. The young man then asked, “Well, how do you get good judgment?” The old-timer replied, “Experience”. The young man, eager to learn all he could, pressed on, “Well, how do you get experience?” To which the old man replied, “Poor judgment.” The road to success entails a lot of required failures. The only way to get promoted through the ranks is to do the grunt work.
Be Happy Miserable! I learned much while traveling to meetings with my father. There was a recurring routine we used to do while I was still little enough for him to hold me in his arms. At the end of a speech he’d call me up on stage and say, “Tracey, how are you?” And I’d say “Tremendous!” And then he’d ask, “How are things going?” And I’d say, “I hope things don’t get any better!” and he’d say “Why?” And I’d exclaim “Because I’m so tired of being happy it’s wearing me out!!!” Life’s tough; it’s tougher if you don’t have a positive attitude.
Quit Thumb-Sucking! When I would call my father lamenting about the nonsense I had to endure at my job he’d interrupt “You can either work for someone else, or you can work for yourself. As long as someone else is your boss, this will always happen.” The second thing he would say when I would angst over how hurtful the slander, the betrayal, and malice, was “Do you think that what you are going through is a fraction of the pain and suffering Christ endured?” Followed up by the ever popular, “You’re never a failure until you blame somebody else!”
It’s Not About You! Two things I heard over and over again growing up really helped me avoid showing up at my own pity party. First, my Dad used to say, “Things don’t go wrong and break your heart so you can become bitter and give up. They happen to break you down and build you up so you can be all that you were intended to be.” So how could I bellyache about a trial or tribulation that was actually the fire designed to forge me into something stronger?
So what kind of a father did you have? With the alarming rate of absentee fathers, it makes me think about all of the girls who won’t get the chance to even interact with their fathers. Whether you’re a laid-back nurturer or a “tough love” kind of dad matters not. What’s important is that you impart your wisdom and presence. Because believe me, it makes all the difference in the world.