Father’s Day is approaching. Everywhere you go, grills and hacksaws and cologne are on sale, apparently since fathers everywhere want to smell their best while they saw their grills in half. I’m sure you’ve also run across a smattering of articles and videos espousing the wisdom that the authors acquired from their own fathers, and I’m sure those articles and videos are great.
But none of them are quite like this. Yes, my father taught me integrity and honesty and the importance of a solid work ethic and all that. But I’ll let everyone else talk about those lessons. This Father’s Day, I’d like to thank my father for some of his more amusing leadership lessons. For example, I learned…
You Can Do Anything You Want – As Long As The Cops Aren’t Around – Once when I was seven or eight years old, my father indulged me by letting me drive the car. I sat on his lap and manned the steering wheel (with his hands over mine, naturally), and he took care of the trifling matter of braking and accelerating. We were on a winding two-lane road, weaving in and out of small groves of trees. It was an exhilarating, glorious bonding moment with my father…until my father saw a police car coming around the corner. That’s when he unceremoniously launched me into the passenger seat – or more accurately the passenger door, since I distinctly remember my shoulder crashing against it. At the time I didn’t know why he had done it, but later he gave me the lesson I’ve carried with me ever since: cops are mean, and they don’t like it when people have fun. It’s a lesson I’ve never forgotten, which is why I never invite them over when I’m engaged in arms trading.
You Won’t Always Know Why People Act the Way They Do – My father took me and my brother on a trip to Toronto once, where we got to jump on the fanciest hotel beds I’ve ever jumped on. As we were checking out, I was minding my own business in the lobby, while my brother was going through the door to get outside. My father (as he told me a couple decades later) noticed that my brother’s hand was in the door frame and was in danger of being smashed when the door closed on it. So my father, reacting with the cheetah-like speed that only a terrified parent can muster, sprinted toward the door to hold it open – and bowled me over in the process. He also ended up shoving the door open instead of just stopping it from closing, so it managed to smack my brother in the head and send him careering to the pavement as well. At the time, we had no idea why our father had done what he had done. All we knew is that sometimes Dad goes a little bit crazy, and when that happens we should really find a place to hide.
Don’t Ever, Ever Spill On Somebody’s New Carpet – Because I did it once, and that’s how I know my father can turn his entire head purple in two seconds. If you’ve never seen an angry purple-headed person bearing down on you, then you don’t know what true fear really is. I know a lot of people enjoy hardwood floors for the look of them, but for me it’s more of a safety issue.
There are plenty more lessons of course, and I’m pretty sure a few of them didn’t involve pain or fear. But in all honesty, those are great motivators. Besides, I like who I am today, and my father is a large part of the reason for that. Thanks, Dad! I love you, and I hope nobody messes with your carpet today.