Friday, October 18, 2013

My Father's Influence






“Sometimes the poorest man leaves his children the richest inheritance.”

Ruth E. Renkel




I once read that afternoons and Friday nights are some of the best times to study, because so few people use those times.  At the moment it’s Friday evening at about 5:30 and I got an unexpected time of solitude.  And while I could be reading comic books, watching a movie or taking a nap, I’m happy to spend this time writing.  I’m happy about this for a few reasons:
·      I won’t have to write tonight when I’m tired.
·      I’m putting in more time towards my 10,000-hour goal.
·      I’m writing, which is something I love to do.

In addition, because I know that my girls are all safe and happy and involved in school activities, I don’t feel guilty about not being with them.  And, again, I could be doing so many other things, but I’m happy, really happy, to be writing.  In addition to writing, I’m listening to music, Jesus Christ Superstar, the Soundtrack.  I listened to this as a kid.  My dad introduced it to me on his reel-to-reel tape player.  Then he made me my own cassette tape of it and I must have listened to it literally 100 times.  I wore it out and my dad had to make me a new one. 
It’s interesting thinking about my dad in this light.  In a lot of ways he was a difficult father.  He didn’t seem very involved in my life.  He was quiet and hard to talk to.  He didn’t take good care of his health and this eventually killed him.  He could get angry or irritable instantly.  He almost never gave me any direct advice.  What I learned about money, relationships, politics, work and love, I learned on my own. 
He never talked about his job.  In fact, his job sometimes took him away from us, once for a year to Okinawa and I never got even a letter or a postcard.  He never said, “I love you.”   He couldn’t seem to say the actual words.  If I told him I loved him, he would say, “Me, too, you.”
I’m not angry or even sad about any of this, nor am I placing blame or judging.   I’m simply stating facts.  Obviously, there were some good things, too.
He knew I loved comic books and for the most part he tolerated this and would sometimes even engage in this with me. He let me stay with him when I went to my first comic convention in 1975. He seemed to know what music I liked, such as Jesus Christ, Superstar.  Best of all, there were times when he would do things with just me.  Once he took me to London, by train from our home in Scotland, when I was 5 years old.  Another time when I almost accidentally poisoned myself with Drano, he took me out that evening just to spend time with me.  He took me to my first communion and then out for breakfast afterwards. 
He was like many parents, imperfect.  But there was one area where he had the greatest influence.  He taught me how to be a career coach.  Now he didn’t do this directly, but through my trial and error and perhaps his own while he was looking for work after retiring from the United States Navy.  These were the lessons he instilled in me, lessons that I still teach today.
·      Treat everyone respectfully.  You never know who can help you.
·      Learn how to answer the phone.
·      Learn how to take accurate messages.
·      Dress well for every interview.
·      Speak carefully so as not to offend anyone, especially potential employers.
·      Be especially careful with the use of humor.
·      Looking for a job should be treated as a job.   Do it every day.  (Get Started and Keep Going.)

It’s fascinating how much my father is with me whenever I’m doing my career coaching.  His teaching shaped my philosophy about the job search process and I’ve never found it to fail.
Thanks, Dad!