Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Good Advice

The best advice my Dad ever gave me was to never let anyone else tell me what I could, or couldn’t, do. It was good advice; the kind of advice that applies to a lot of different areas of life. Good advice is like that, it crosses boundaries. Take my Dad’s advice, for example. He offered it to me back in the 1970s, when women were starting to explore the limits of bringing home the bacon and frying it up in the pan. Women’s lib was the “in” thing. My Dad and I were talking about my future, and he told me that I was the one who should decide what I was capable of. It wasn’t up to him, my friends, my teachers, or society. It was up to me. I took him at his word and found out he was right. Don’t get me wrong, there were circumstances and chances that impacted my decisions and either constricted or expanded my range of choices; but nevertheless, the choice was mine. That’s the way it should be. But my Dad’s advice wasn’t just career advice. It applied to other decisions that belonged exclusively to me. The hard part was figuring out which decisions those were.

We’ve all received great bits of advice from important people in our lives. Tidbits like, “always wash your hands before dinner” or “look both ways before crossing the street” or “don’t leave the house without wearing clean underwear” or “don’t take candy from a stranger.” All of this advice translates well across the boundaries of our lives. Washing your hands for dinner and wearing clean underwear is really just advice to be prepared, and you really wouldn’t go to a business meeting without preparing for the meeting. The advice to look both ways and not take candy is really advice to be cautious, and you really wouldn’t consider an unsolicited offer to help a Nigerian attorney recovery money from a bank just by emailing him your social security number and bank account information. So you see good advice crosses boundaries.

So, in honor of Father’s Day this Sunday; what’s the best advice your Dad ever gave you?


JackSplat said...

Advice from my Dad. Long before Phil Knight of Nike fame came up with his wildly successful marketing phrase of, "Just Do It!", My Dad used that term with myself and my brothers on a regular basis while we were growing up in the 60's and 70's. Whether it was when we didn't want to get out of bed early, were told to mow the lawn, or were procrastinating over doing a paper or project for school, his response was always the same..."Just Do It!"

While I'm sure I didn't fully appreciate it at the time, what he was doing was teaching me a philosophy of life. It starts with, life ain't easy, but you don't complain about it. Instead you just do it. You find the strength necessary to accomplish your task without complaining to others or blaming others for giving it to you. You exercise self-discipline, self-reliance and personal responsibility and accomplish your goals.

That's a pretty good philosophy to come out of those three small words. Thanks Dad!

Aunty 2 said...

My dad is not the type to give "Mike Brady-esqe" comments that stand out in conversations and leads to responses such as "Wow! I see what you mean Dad!" One thing that does stand out to me was when I decided to return to college a few years ago. I was in my mid-40's and was worried about being able to keep up with these young kids and that I wouldn't be smart enough to finish. My Dad told me it didn't matter how old I was or how smart I thought I was, if I was determined to go back to school and earn my degree then I should just go with the attitude that these kids would learn from me and it was my example that would help them through too. His quiet advice and unending support helped me to make up my mind to go back and work to get my degree. I was able to graduate with a 4.0 and show these young kids that a "Phat Grandma" can not only keep up, but pass them in the educational race! Thanks Dad! You are the best!

Grama36 said...

My dad gave me so many bits of great advice that its hard to pick just one. I do recall one bit just after I'd been seriouslly ill. The doctors tried to tell me what I could and couldn't do. He told me to ignore them. I'd know what I could and couldn't do. It was good advice. Listen to your heart; not what someone else tell you.