3 Approaches To Life From The Greatest Man That Ever Lived :)

by Paul Goodchild on May 21, 2014

The Greatest Man That Every LivedToday is my dad’s birthday.

Unfortunately he’s not here in person to celebrate it… but I am.

It’s hard to know where to start to write about him even after nearly 2 years, and so I haven’t until now… but I want to start somewhere.

So I’ve picked 3 things that I can directly attribute to him. These aren’t the only 3 things, and they’re not the biggest.

But they’re 3 things.

One day I’ll write more.

It’s perfectly okay to be who you are

This is one that I certainly slip with, and I lose sight of it sometimes, especially recently. But then who doesn’t?

It’s hard to forget the turn out of people that came to dad’s funeral service to pay their respects that day… something like that really sticks in your mind.

It drove home for me, my family, and anyone else who was there, just how powerful an effect he’d had on the people he touched while we was alive.

My dad wasn’t the one you’d see down on the pub on a Friday night, he wasn’t out playing cards with the lads, and he was never to be found gossiping and talking behind other peoples’ backs.

He did his thing, got on with it, and was happy to do so. He concerned himself with making meaningful relationships with people that mattered to him – people that returned the favour.

He learned the lesson early that you can’t please all of the people all of the time, you can only be who you are, and that should be enough for anyone. For those people for whom it wasn’t enough, well that was okay too.

It’s the perfect example of simply being comfortable with yourself and sharing that with other people, accepting judgments as they arose and not wobbling over in self-doubt, and shifting with the changing tides.

Be who you are and stop making excuses for yourself.

Stand strong: soft feet and firm legs

My dad held such a firm belief system that, no matter where you positioned yourself alongside it, it would give you cause you question yourself because he was so utterly convinced of it.

Not arrogantly convinced, not at all. In fact, we both had many conversations about the beliefs we held – he had his position, and I had mine.

He stood firm because he had thought it all through. He’d questioned it through-out, raised and discarded doubts, contemplated on it, and was ultimately secure in his thoughts and the beliefs he’d reached, since they’d been tested and scrutinized.

It’s incredibly powerful to talk with someone so comfortable and sure of where he stands. It’s hard to shake someone so confident, but who is also willing to hear your perspective, and then contrast that against his own. Your different opinions are welcomed, encouraged, but never dismissed.

His opinions were his opinion, they weren’t his identity, and so he was never threatened by something new or different.

It taught me to examine my beliefs where I can. To question them for faults, and to ultimately be comfortable with the conclusions; question things as much as you can, raise doubts, and accept/discard them as appropriate. This approach prevents the gradual growth of arrogance which forms from deep feelings of insecurity, identifying with your beliefs, and fear of being told you’re wrong. If you’re comfortable with questioning either by yourself or others, and adapting your position when you can no longer validate your opinions, arrogance can never take hold.

So, the analogy of soft feet implies that you stand lightly in your position, ready to adjust and adapt, but you stand firm, keeping yourself rooted when you’ve validated your current position.

Act; Don’t React.

While on a trip with him several years back, he shared with me one of his approaches to discipline he would use as a father to his children.

Once he described it, it was obvious but I’d never really been aware of it until he said. And then I became acutely aware how much this approach is not practiced by many.

He described how, wherever he could and he didn’t always succeed, he would never discipline his children until he had calmed down long after an incident requiring it had occurred.

This meant two things:

  • he would never discipline a child for something they could never have been in the wrong for
  • he would never over-discipline and say/do something that was unjust or inappropriate.

And to illustrate, he gave a perfect example of a scene he had himself witnessed:

A man and his son were walking down the street, and the kid was jumping around and doing what most children do.

As they were walking, the boy saw a small drink carton on the ground, the kind which when you stamp or jump on it, it’ll explode with a huge bang. Any boy will be familiar with the irresistible urge the explode that carton. It’s wired into our brains to do it.

And of course the boy did it.  The problem was that the carton wasn’t completely empty of juice, and it exploded and squirted dark red juice all over the father’s clothes.

As you can imagine, the father became enraged at the boy, shouting at him and punishing him.

So what’s the point here?

Well if you ask yourself, what had the boy done wrong? Was it that he’d jumped on the carton? If so, would he still have done the wrong thing if the carton was empty?

Of course not. The carton would have exploded and the pair would have happily continued on down the street.

The boy wasn’t to know and wasn’t to blame for the carton still containing juice, but he was punished and reprimanded none-the-less.

Why?  Because the father was angry in that moment, it was not for having done anything wrong.

So before you fly off the handle, take a small step back and catch yourself on.

Happy Birthday Dad.

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