The Fire Inside

We often discuss how career may affect our family or family life, but have you ever thought about how family influence affects career?

Think about the influence your parents had / have on your life.  What lessons, if any, did you learn from watching the way your parents approached career? How did those observations affect the way you approach career today?  There’s a lesson here for all of us.  Observing others, especially those with whom we spend the most time, exposes us to qualities we wish we possessed and those we hope we will never possess.  But those observations also have great potential to shape the choices we make.

Not everyone is fortunate to have good parents. Not everyone has more than one parent or even a decent parental figure.  I was very fortunate to have two dads – my biological father and my adoptive father.  After just completing a cross-country road trip to attend my adoptive father’s memorial due to his recent passing, I’d like to share some of the lessons he taught me that apply to career as a tribute.

Dad was a mechanical engineer who worked on many different projects. There were times he spent months on end traveling for work.  Other times he had to go in on a Saturday to finish a project.  But I don’t remember hearing him complain about what he had to do.  His desire was excellence of the craft.  I remember every now and then getting to go help him on a Saturday.  He’d find something helpful I could do (even if he made it up to keep me busy so he could focus).  Nevertheless, I was allowed to be there with him and learn from him.

He used to help me with my homework, especially math.  Even if I had mastered a lesson, he would teach me something beyond just the material I was studying. It was like an additional application that he might refer to as “extra credit.”

No matter how well I did, he communicated that he and mom were proud of me.  But along with that, he pushed me to continue pursuing excellence and mentioned that everyone has room for improvement.

This pursuit of excellence that he lived and taught helped me develop a good work ethic. I learned from him that hard work is important to achieving success in anything you do.  Without his influence, I would not be where I am today.

His favorite singer was Bob Seger.  I certainly give dad credit for lighting “The Fire Inside” me to consistently set higher goals and strive for excellence because it was first inside him.  Do you have that fire inside?  Remember to take the time to thank the person who helped light it.

My aunt found a hand-written note card dad had made labeled “words of wisdom” that I’d like to share and think is certainly applicable to career and life in general.

  • Aspire to noble things.
  • It doesn’t matter if you get A, B, C.  It matters that you care.
  • Turn away from the menial.
  • Actions have consequences.
  • Batter up!  Be a doer.
  • Through ups and downs of failure and success, we become better people.
  • Never hold a grudge.
  • The best thing to do with an enemy is make him a friend.
  • Don’t jeopardize the future because of the past.
  • All things come to he who waits.
  • Put the needs of others ahead of yours.  Displace gratification.
  • Work hard to make right decisions, harder to make those decisions right.
  • It’s never too late to start over again.
  • It’s too soon to quit.
  • Be grateful, not proud.
  • If you have something important to say, write it down.
  • There are more important things than me.

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