Yesterday was Father’s Day and this year, my thoughts took me well beyond the requisite Hallmark card sentiment of love and thanks to the impact my dad has had, and continues to have, on me.
This winter as I considered leaving my safe and stable corporate life for entrepreneurship I was surrounded by many naysayers. But among all those negative voices, one rose above and kept me afloat. And it usually began with, “so…I’ve been thinking…” Such simple words yet I’ve learned they carry with them a gift every time they’re uttered.
At a time when my fear of failure outweighed my desire for change, my dad said to me, “so I’ve been thinking…if you work with your clients to take risks and make big changes in their careers and lives, shouldn’t you be willing to do the same thing?”
I was blown over. He nailed it. This from a man that I had hardly given credit to for fully understanding my career as a coach. In one line, he said more to me and did more to boost my confidence in my decision than anyone had in the months leading up to that day.
Weeks later, his positive reinforcement continued. I got a call out of the blue – “so, I’ve been thinking…now is the right time for you to take this risk and see what you can make of it. There is a lot of negativity out there but if you can help people get back on their feet you will be doing a great thing. The world needs people like you helping out right now.” When I enthusiastically agreed and shared my fear of failure, he said confidently, “You can’t fail, you can only learn from this.” His confidence in me was like a safety net, a security blanket. I was getting braver.
The week I resigned corresponded with my birthday. A package arrived from my dad with two books in it. One was Home-Based Business for Dummies and the others was Psycho-Cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz, M.D., F.I.C.S. I immediately understood the Dummies book but was unsure about Psycho-Cybernetics. I assumed it was something “coachy” he found online and thought I would be interested in.
A couple days later he called to see if I’d gotten it.
“So, what do you think about Psycho-Cybernetics?”
Well, I flipped though it; it seems interesting.
“Did I ever tell you about this book?”
“I read this book when I was 22 and it was the most influential book I’d ever read. Its shaped the way I look at life ever since. It’s about how your mindset is powerful and helps you be successful. So I thought that since you were just starting out in your business, it was important for you to remember that.”
I could hardly comprehend what I was hearing. My eyes filled with tears. Not only had he never mentioned this life altering experience but here he was sharing so simply and eloquently his key to a successful and fulfilling life.
My dad isn’t the kind of guy you’d say had a charmed life. He grew up making due with what his two deaf parents could provide. He spent over 30 years working as a repairman for Sears always knowing he was capable of more but too afraid to risk the home and life he was providing for his family. Yet each day, he saw to it that he found something to enjoy. A moment with my mom, a catch with my brothers, a chat with me about what I dreamed of becoming one day, a laugh with friends, a walk in nature. What others may have seen as the life a blue-collar man was the life of a rich man to my dad. It wasn’t lavish, it most likely wasn’t all he ever dreamed of for himself, but it was all he needed.
Consciously or not, my father taught me these lessons – the importance of my outlook, to trust in myself, to always see the positive and what can be done. So instead of tickets to the ball game or an off the rack greeting card, this Father’s Day I want to say more than thanks. I want him to have the acknowledgement he deserves.
As I stepped to the edge and made the leap with his supportive hand in mine, I knew I was not only fulfilling my lifelong dream but part of his as well. More than anyone, he helped make it possible.