My stepfather is dying. Soon. Maybe within the day. And I wanted to write this while he still lives so I could read it to him. I hope I still have time. But even if I don’t have time, I’ve told him most of this before and thanked him for the life lessons he has provided. Our relationship has been, shall we say, rather “complex.” But regardless of our ups and downs, he has done his job as a father in offering knowledge that has served me well in my lifetime. It has certainly contributed to improving my performance in many ways.
Here are some of the valuable things I’ve learned from him. If you have living parents, perhaps you could put together a similar list and let them know while you still have time. If one or both of your parents are gone, maybe such a list will at least focus you on their contributions.
1. Being organized is a value that will serve you in every aspect of your life. It may even save your life.
2. Being on time and being timely are not merely high level success skills but endear you to almost everyone.
3. It’s always important to stand up for yourself. But sometimes you do that by speaking out and other times you do that by keeping your mouth shut and your head down and waiting for a better chance.
4. In almost all circumstances, being polite and considerate serve your interests best. That includes saying “please” and “thank you.” This works in every part of the world. Even better, learn the formalities of correct and polite procedures for at least your own culture and you can function well in all levels of society. (Sometimes knowing what fork to use at a formal dinner can make a difference in your career.)
5. Put brain in gear before engaging mouth.
6. Music comes in a wide variety and it pays to listen to it and judge it on its own merits rather than by popularity.
7. You’re not always right, but when you are, stick to your principles. Just make sure you know what’s right.
8. Other people’s opinions are important, but you have to have a strong picture of who you are and not try to adapt yourself to what will make you immediately popular.
9. Some habits are harmful. Break them.
10. Get your emotions under control before taking action.