Lessons from my Father


On this father's day I wanted to take time and share some lessons from my father and the rest of the men in my family.  As I sit here going through multiple significant personal matters I am focusing on these lessons about life.  They can be applied to our personal lives as well as work since everything is about ourselves, relationships with others and our struggle at making sense of our place in it.

You're tougher than you think - Pain is an amazing normalizer.  In most of our lives we really don't have much emotional pain.  Our society and economy stability has created an expectation of lack of pain.  Yet, if we look back in history the ability of individuals to withstand uncertainty, loss, fear and pain has proven amazing.  We are so much stronger than we think because we haven't been forced, generally, into those situations.  As such, when even small painful situations occur we run away as a result.  It's only when we have no choice but to go through them do we realize our power of survival.  When you fear something that's a signal you need to run to it.  Not to just learn how to do it but to learn that you are stronger than your fear.

There is no growth through pleasure, only pain.  Everyone, by natural course, seeks pleasure and avoids pain.  However, we only grow and learn through the hard times.  Our brains only develop new pathways as we struggle with new challenges and situations.  Our ability to learn how to cope with new personalities, situations, unknown tasks and even ourselves can be incredibly uncomfortable.  Yet, if we avoid the pain of it we will never learn that new thing.  These words couldn't be more true "whenever you are upset, hurt or scared that is our signal to learn." 

With any pleasure comes pain - Like two sides of a coin these two come together.  With great enjoyment of something comes the inevitable vulnerability, pain and fear of losing it.  As in life all things can and will end.  People are born and die.  We start a job and eventually have to leave.  This isn't to say we must avoid the enjoyment of something new but to appreciate it each and every day.  It's this acceptance that allows us to be more open, objective and vulnerable that drives a much more significant connection and enjoyment.  If we always live in fear of losing something we will never really live.  This is the case with any relationship or job.  For me the fear of public speaking is always there in spite of me constantly doing it.  Yet, the pleasure I get from making a connection on stage can't be measured.  I wouldn't have one without the other.

We are all just seeking a connection - As in our personal relationships and at work all people are seeking a connection.  We are social creatures and allowing it can drive higher attachment and enjoyment.  I just recently spent a week with a new team that was filled with members that were very open, supportive and allowing connection.  The ability they had to produce was, in my opinion, directly relational to their ability to connect with each other at a deeper level.  The trust, support and true empathy was clearly evident each and every day.  Each and every day we should try and make a connection with others.  Acknowledge, appreciate, empathize, support and celebrating others must be evident and true and takes a intended action.  Many times we think we are doing this but is either only in our heads and not evident or is just not top of mind.

You're always alone - No matter how much we think we are all in this together, only you can go through your challenges.  We all want to feel we aren't alone in facing the challenges we all have.  However, in reality, that's mostly an avoidance at dealing with the problems we all face.  In doing this we project the problems onto others and not take ownership of them and accept our role in it.  No one cane make your decisions for you and when you make it accept the outcome.  

You're never alone - At times in life we feel no one cares or understands.  This is generally our sadness and fear of something isolating ourselves.  In reality people do care but can't take that action for you.  Where we all must own our actions and decisions we must always appreciate the support others give.  Typically, we never feel it's "enough" or "done correctly".  That's just a statement that our need is more than they can give.  That's not a statement that they are not trying or giving.  We all need to appreciate the effort and support others give us regardless of how it's given

You're not that special - We all like to think we are unique and special.  Only I have the ability to know the answer.  In reality I'm not.  Everyone has amazing ideas and views on the world because their views are formed from their experiences and those are unique to only them.  Most importantly, we all feel that we are the only ones that are going through this painful challenge.  In reality, we've all suffered the same relationship, work and other challenges.  It's this acceptance that we aren't unique, in this manner, allows us to be more confident going through it.

You're a snowflake - Yes, you are a snowflake.  No one is exactly like you.  How we all see and react to the world is deeply seeded in our formative years from 2-7.  While there are commonalities amongst all of us no one has lived your life.  Some suffered abandonment and as such pull away all the time.  Some had high expectations on them and as such have high expectations on others.  Learning about yourself allows you to better understand your successes and weaknesses.  Most importantly, we can't expect others to think or react like we do as they see the world through their past not ours.