Life Lessons from Dad: Wisdom of Our Fathers
- The importance of family and relationships
- Showing gratitude and appreciation
- Removing negative emotions
Few of us know a stronger or more unique bond than that with our fathers. As I read through this book, I experienced just about every emotion on the map from happiness to sadness to gratitude to excitement and even a bit of regret, to name a few. Think back and try to remember a book that elicited such a range of emotions. I could not think of a better read to bring to your attention just after Thanksgiving as we get into the holidays.
A great friend, father and mentor of mine recommend this book to me a few years ago. He mentioned how only after getting pages into it, did the tears start streaming down his face. I was used to getting business book recommendations from him so this one struck me as a bit unique. I suspect that as fathers, this book will have an even stronger emotional effect than on sons and daughters but for now I will only be coming from the perspective of a son. Although after reading, I look forward to this perspective changing.
Tim Russert has the reputation as an amazing father and an amazing son. He wrote this book as a tribute to his father “Big Russ” as a follow on to his first book Big Russ and Me. The book takes an interesting style in that the author has written very little of it. Instead, the majority is stories about fathers around the nation, written by sons, daughters, fathers and mothers. The neat thing is that with stories covering the happy times, the sad times and everything in between, most any reader can relate to at least a story or two. The lessons learned through relationships with fathers are indeed endless, yet so often we don’t realize them until much later.
Some lessons that stood out were:
- Keeping your word
- Staying true to yourself
- Showing the people in your life your appreciation
- Honesty and integrity over all else
- A father’s love for his mother
- Not taking love or its expression for granted
- Creating a family full of friendship
As I experienced Thanksgiving week last week (for my family and for me, it has always been more of a week-long celebration), I thought back on what meant the most in my life. There was no doubt that my family came first. And having a look back through this book reminded me specifically of my dad, who is still a great friend and teacher of mine, and it gave me this feeling of incredible gratitude. He (and my mother) has taught me some of the most fundamental building blocks of my life; be it integrity, focus, the importance of family, patience, as well as countless business lessons. I see more each day how incredibly grand the role of a father is.
As always, there is a ton to think about over the next month as we move through Thanksgiving and the holiday season. Many of us get caught up in our own individual goals for the year and being sure we can call this year a successful one. While our own goals are at the top of our priority list, I hope you took last week as a moment, day or hopefully longer, to feel, experience and show the gratitude that you have in your life. Gratitude is an amazing emotion. When you feel intense feelings of gratitude, the body and mind cannot experience negative emotions like fear or stress, which so many of us tend to feel at the end of the year. I try to spend at least a few minutes each morning while on a jog or just after I get up, letting all the things I’m grateful for flow through my mind and body. If this is not already a daily ritual of yours, I challenge you to give it a try. You will not believe the experience.
I am convinced that everyone has at least something to be grateful for and the majority of us could write an endless list. The key is taking the time to realize those things and focus on why you’re grateful. Sometimes it takes some digging but it’s worth it to experience true gratitude. Wisdom of Our Fathers forces us all to think about one part of our lives that I hope all of us can share. I am not saying that you have to have a perfect relationship with your father. In fact some of us may feel the opposite. But no matter your relationship, think for a minute about what you’ve learned and how you are better because of the effect your father has had on you. It could be your blood father, or a father figure. Or perhaps now you are the father and this book relates you back to your relationship with your son or daughter. Whatever the case may be, take a minute to just be grateful for the hand you were dealt. It will make you better for the day, the month and for the life of the others with whom you interact.
As I get around to writing this review, years after first picking up the book (I try to thumb through it each year), I am saddened to say that it has now become a tribute to Tim and the relationship to his son Luke. Tim passed away only a few months ago, much earlier than he should have. After seeing Luke’s reaction to his passing, in television interviews and articles, it’s clear that a legend has been left and a torch has been passed. In the days after Tim’s death, all Luke could express was gratitude for what his father had created in him.
Sometimes we need a tool to help us realize the things that are right under our nose. Think of this book as a way to reconnect with what’s most important on our journey towards success. I hope you agree that it is the interactions, relationships and learning that set a great life apart from the others. Those are the building blocks that create success and fulfillment. In this instance we focus on the father figure, but this goes for any important figure in your life. I, as much as anyone, understand the importance of a mother as well, and I promise to pay a further tribute to her in a future review. The two go hand in hand and everyday I am grateful for both.
Enjoy the memories these stories bring to life as you read through them. Realize how you relate, and most importantly let yourself be reminded of the people that put you where you are. Take the time to feel and show your gratitude. Both of you will be so much better for the experience.
-Reading for Your Success
Leave a comment: I always appreciate hearing your experiences so please share whatever they might be. What was your relationship with your father? What did he teach you and what do you plan to pass along to the next generation?
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Other books you might enjoy:
“It’s never too late to begin the process of becoming the father you want to be, the one you always wished you had.”
“Learn to love people for who they are and forgive them for who they are not.”
“The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love his mother.”
“When I ws a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.”