Lessons from Dad

Right after Thanksgiving this year, my dad died. It was one of those expected yet unexpected events. He was 90 and had cognitive issues.

I haven’t truly begun to grieve the loss. I have started to think about the many things I learned from my dad. The lessons weren’t all positive or amazing, but the impact on who I am is indelible.

Here I  share some of the greatest impacts on my professional life.

Show up – on time and ready to work.

Dad was the middle class work ethic personified. He never missed a day unless there was good reason. He was always early and put in his best effort every day.

I have taken this approach in every job I have done. I trust that if I am present and give a job my all, the results will be rewarding.

I don’t look for automation to take over, to hand things off to someone else, or to find shortcuts. I do each job with my best skills.

Embrace reality.

This one is bittersweet because dad lost all touch with reality in the end. In a way, he often distanced himself from things in his life, and that was not healthy.

Dad was the only son of his immigrant parents to be born in the US. Despite being raised in a Spanish-only household, he never spoke the language unless he was talking with his parents. Even then, their Spanish was often answered in English.

Dad’s goal was to be as American as hot dogs and apple pie (two food favorites of his, by the way.) I wonder about the rich culture that is fully half of my heritage that I know absolutely nothing about.

My mom died at age 52 and dad never got the time with her he’d planned. He went on to retire to the place they had picked and tried to do the things mom had wanted to do. Alone, it did not work. He was never happy.

So, I try to live in closer connection to the reality before me. I embrace who I am and what I can and cannot do well.

I approach each client individually to hopefully not miss the opportunities that are possible. When something doesn’t work, I set it aside and try another way.

Sometimes, the greatest satisfaction comes from counting pennies.

Dad loved collecting coins. He spent hours pouring over coins to develop a complete collection from years spanning from before he was born until his death. Pennies were a treasure to dad, and none was ever lost or left behind.

I too treasure the small things. And, I believe that focusing on little things that matter can add up to big things with a solid foundation.

I bought my husband’s wedding ring with pennies I collected. In my work life, I pay attention to the details that help clients reach their goals. I will happily pursue progress in small increments.

A life well lived.

My goal is for the people that I connect with during the course of my life to be positively impacted. I want them to know that I did my best for them. That’s dad’s legacy, and I’d like it to be mine, too.

Dedicated to Gilbert Julian Andia, July 12, 1930 – November 29, 2020.