06.19.2015

A Father’s Wisdom in Six-and-a-Half Lessons

In my early years, I would complain that while there was a Father's Day and a Mother's Day, there was no Kids' Day. Of course, my parents would always quip that every day is Kids' Day, which seemed like such a cop-out response -- until I became an adult and saw the countless ways in which their wise words have shaped my life.

My father was born with a gift of gab. Even more than that, he was put on this earth with an unbelievable amount of optimism. Not the Richard Simmons, creepy smile, fake-it-til-you-make-it optimism. He has the ability to always see the positive in every situation. So with all apologies to my loyal blog readers, this entry isn't for you. It's for the man who impacts this author every day in ways he'll never know: my father Jim. Here are my favorite six-and-a-half Jim-isms that have shaped my life and just might help yours, too:

1. On Careers: Do what you like doing, then figure out how to get paid for it -- in that order. This philosophy has led me to amazingly fun professions: actor, golf program director, motivational speaker, and writer. But it also led me to working minimum wage jobs along the way to keep the lights on. He never said it would be easy; just that it would be rewarding. It has been, and I'd never do it any other way.

2. On Ethics: Always tell the truth, not because it's noble but because it's easier to remember. It is such a stress reliever to not have to remember who you told which version of the truth. It absolutely sucks to be honest when you've been an idiot (which I have been plenty of times), but in the long run, you're always better off.

3. On Sanity: Rationalization is the key to mental health. This nugget has come in handy every time I have been dumped (which I have been plenty of times). It allows you to say things like, "She wasn't my type," "There are better things ahead," or, if I'm feeling particularly scorned, "She had a mustache anyways." The point is, rationalizing a situation can be just what you need for some of life's battles that don't go your way.

4. On Perspective: HK. For those who don't speak "Jim," HK stands for "who cares." You're probably thinking, "Who starts with a W!" And he would be quick to point out that cares starts with C. That's why he says it -- to mess with you. But it's not just a goofy phrase; it's a philosophy. I recall coming home late one night in high school after putting a nice little dent in the Jeep and waking up my dad to tell him what happened. He sighed loudly, smiled, and said, "HK. It's just a car." He still had to do the fatherly thing and make me work off the cost of the damage, but the general positive perspective brought calm to the situation.

5. On College: Schedule all your classes in the morning; that way, when you wake up at noon, your day is done. This came from a man who invented the seven-year undergraduate plan that Tommy Boy made famous. Unfortunately, I didn't follow this advice and graduated in four years. A nice accomplishment, maybe, but after entering the ranks of the real world, I quickly longed for the life of Van Wilder. Chalk up another life victory for my old man.

6. On networking: Meet two people every week and by the time you're my age, you'll know everybody. It's hard to go out in town without somebody knowing my pops, and if you consider how many people you can meet with this theory, the math adds up. Speaking of math ...

Jim-ism number six-and-a-half on math: Figures never lie, but liars can figure. I love this one, especially in an era of misleading infographics where every company and political group want to show you that they have the statistics to support their product/candidate. More often than not, it's hard to make the numbers work out. If you think your statistics do add up, I'd point you to Yogi Berra, who used to say, "Baseball is 90 percent mental and the other half is physical."

Hopefully you can take something away from just a sliver of my father's wisdom. I've been sustaining on it for over 35 years. And happy Father's Day to my dad and to all fathers who have imparted a lifetime of lessons to the next generation.

This article originally appeared on The Huffington Post. So while I wrote it, I guess I sort of stole it from myself and put it here.

Categories: Leadership Motivation & Inspiration