My father was, without question, the most influential male role model and figure in my life – he taught me everything I know about business, working hard, and keeping the tension between family and the job in balance.
He worked incredibly hard to be the sole provider for a family of seven while my mom cared for the kiddos – but he never missed a sports event, a significant celebration, and when he was traveling or working at a distance he’d fly back just for the weekend to be with us.
He lived everything he taught – so much so that I can’t even remember him explicitly sitting me down and teaching me many of the things that I now attribute to him; they were often said in passing or said repeatedly enough for me to see that it surrounded his life and his family’s ethos and culture.
In other words I caught his life lessons, internalized them, and without even thinking began to live them out myself. If I can be half the man my father was (is) then I would consider my movement into manhood a success.
But let’s be honest – for certain he never taught me anything explicitly about blogging but these three things impact everything that I do in life (which includes my blog):
1. Never Give Up
I can remember with clarity one of the most powerful times he said this to me explicitly – actually, it wasn’t even audible as he mouthed it to me – my soccer team was down by 1 in the last few moments of a critical soccer match.
It was pouring cold rain sideways, one of those days on the pitch that you wish you had never committed to playing, and we were getting our butts handed to us.
My hands were freezing and I breathed deeply into them to keep them from falling off and as I did I looked toward the sidelines and saw my father: He raised his two hands and with them made two powerful fists as if he were about to enter a boxing ring and mouthed the words that are forever etched into my psyche:
Never. Give. Up.
I didn’t, although my team did. We lost that day but I left with a life perspective that I can’t seem to shake.
Bloggers who don’t give up seem to thrive. I can’t explain it and most of the time it’s half-way luck but those that persevere more than often simply thrive.
Through sheer force of will they’re still there when many of their colleagues and contemporaries have given up (or started yet another blog).
2. Always Have Options
I may have taken this lesson a bit too literally. You see, my father co-op’d out of college and off the line into a career with the same Fortune 50 company until he was the Chief Executive Officer. He was a “lifer” and retired with this thing called a “pension!”
We joke now because I’ll never have one of those and I’ve held more jobs than I can even recall working all over the country (but at least I’m the CEO of my blog!).
But my father always had options at every turn during his career – but it went way beyond his job as it was integrated in everything he did. If he headed to the hardware store that evening to buy a hammer he knew the two most competitive brands and would commit to the purchase when he filled in the last gap of his research: Holding them.
Was he brokering a large financial contract? He had options. Was he purchasing a home? He had choices. Was he helping his children choose the right college and university? He gave us varying opportunities to consider.
You see, no decision was ever truly closed to alternatives – and he worked just as hard to create them as to choose them so that the best decision could always be made.
And I do this everyday, even for my blog – it appears when I choose the right software to use, the right apps to help me stay productive, and even when I wake up and try to decide on exactly what blog post will be published that day.
Always have options when it comes to your blogging efforts because it’ll force you to become a business analyst, an educated researcher instead of just a blog publisher.
3. It Never Hurts to Ask
This has saved me so much money during my lifetime that even if that was the only reason you adopted this perspective it would be good enough!
My father has always been a frugal man as well as a master financial planner – but he always knew there was an opportunity for a deal, even if it was for a penny. I can remember with fondness him asking the cashier at the local grocery store if there were any discounts available for hansome twins (my brother and I would stand there and just stare at him and the cashier and were never sure what we were supposed to do…).
You’d be surprised at how many times that act of simply asking worked! I can remember this one time when an older woman with crinkly cheeks stared me straight into my eyes with a look that told me she wanted to eat my soul after my father asked for a discount – I literally shrunk ready for impact when she began to laugh hysterically! She then asked my father if 20% would be acceptable since there were two of us by his side.
I can’t remember how much my father saved that day but it didn’t matter – if that devil-eyed woman could submit and succumb to an honest inquiry I would commit to trying it myself.
And I haven’t stopped yet.
I think bloggers could use a bigger helping of courage to propel them beyond mediocrity. What would really happen if you asked that super-star social media maven celebrity if you could interview them on your small 2-month old blog? Rejection? Sure, but who cares. Take it on the chin, don’t take it personally, and then give it another go.
And then do it again, and again.
Also published on Medium.