Six Lessons I Learned From My Dad
My father has been gone now for a few years. With children of my own, I often think of the important life lessons I learned from him, and I try to teach them to my kids.
Our fathers teach us so much more than how to hold a hammer or safely operate a table saw. They teach us the value of providing for our family, being there for our family, and being a valuable member of our community.
I suppose I’m not alone in feeling that my father was a one-of-a-kind individual who everyone should respect. There are a lot of great dads out there.
Here are six ways my father helped me become a better person and parent through his craftsmanship and the sacrifices he made.
Lesson 1: Never let education hold you back.
My father was one of the best house builders and professional carpenters in the area. Yet, he never graduated high school. If something needed to be done, he learned how to do it.
With hard work and determination, he not only learned how to build a cabinet, but he also learned how to build an entire house. He then passed this knowledge on to my brothers and me and pushed us to go further.
“I built a business on my own, even through a lack of education,” he would say. “Imagine how much more you can do with the education I didn’t get.”
His drive and success influenced all four of us to get our education. Each of us built the first house we lived in, with Dad looking on and guiding us along the way.
Our houses were paid for by the careers our father pushed us to achieve. We all went into different fields of study: medical, forestry conservation, law enforcement, and business management.
Dad taught us how important education is, while he showed us how not to let a lack of education in any area hold us back.
Lesson 2: Never give less than your best.
If you’ve spent any time dealing with contractors, you know there are many out there who cut corners and practice poor workmanship. We were inducted into the family business through our growing years, and Dad taught us that quality matters.
I remember a time when it seemed like every job we got was for fixing or redoing jobs another contractor didn’t do right.
“If you can’t do a job right, then don’t do it at all,” Dad would tell us.
Dad was probably one of the most easy-going guys you’d ever meet, but he always pushed us to try our best. He always encouraged us to improve.
Lesson 3: If you need help, just ask.
Dad asked for and gave help freely.
I remember many a night when Dad filled the kitchen table with the house blueprints he designed, and guests enjoyed Mom’s lemonade while they talked. If Dad came across a problem he needed someone else’s input on, he invited a specialist over for a chat.
We often let pride get in the way of asking for help, but Dad never did.
He had respect for the talents people had and the knowledge they worked hard to gain. He taught us that respecting others also meant we should ask for help when we needed it.
If anyone needed anything at all, they came to Dad. I don’t think I ever saw him say no to anyone.
Okay, I admit it. Because of Dad, I have a hard time saying no to people. I honestly don’t know how he did it. I have to say no every so often because there’s only so much time in the day!
Lesson 4: Family is important.
Dad had a love for wood and for creating wonderful places and things with wood. His love for family was a strong reason wood attracted him.
With wood, you can build a home. With wood, you can make a timeless piece of furniture that is passed down from generation to generation.
To him, wood was a legacy of family—a gift from nature.
He also lived for family. Before getting into business for himself, he supported us by working long hours for a company that built houses.
This meant he wasn’t home that much. Raising a family is expensive, and companies didn’t pay enough to work just 40 hours a week.
But he always made time for us. Usually, to go fishing on his day off and teach us how to enjoy being out in nature.
In today’s fast-paced environment, making time for family can be twice as hard. Thanks to Dad, my siblings and I make sure to see one another regularly, even though we live in different states now.
Lesson 5: If you’re knocked down, get back up.
Dad could have sued the house building company he worked for, but he didn’t. They dealt him a bad hand when he was in his forties, and he turned it into an opportunity.
Instead of fighting the circumstances that took his job away to get that job back, he took it as a sign. “I can do better without them,” he said.
And he did. The next day he started negotiations, and the next week, he had his own business.
While he worked for the house building company, he paid attention to how the contracting world worked. He learned from contractors he met through work and made his backup plan.
That backup plan allowed him to get right back up again when someone knocked him down. Not only that, it allowed him to do it on his own terms.
When I grew up and started my own life in the business world, Dad would say, “Learn how the system works and learn how to make it work for you. Take nothing for granted and always watch for the next opportunity.”
Lesson 6: The little things matter.
One day, Dad and I were working on a four-bed baby cradle system for a church nursery. It was his own design, and he was so meticulous with the details.
Dad was always very detailed, but this project stood out because he took it way more seriously than other projects. The safety of the children for whom this cradle system would be used was so important.
Watching him pay attention to every little gap, that there were no sharp edges, and even how the hinges worked implanted within me the importance of giving 150% to every job. He even painstakingly added carved details into areas where flat sides would have worked just fine.
I remember him staying up at night during this project, checking and double-checking safety considerations for baby furniture. He never used a computer. He called people he knew who understood child safety to ask questions about the build and about safe coatings.
“If you don’t know the answer, find someone who does,” he’d always say. “Never skip the smallest detail.”
As I grew up and had children of my own, I became so amazed at how great my dad was. Even after we grew up, he was always there for us. If we wanted to redesign a room, build a cabinet, or anything, we knew where to go.
We’d ask, “How do we do this?” and right away, the big roll of paper would come out. An hour later, or less, he’d have a blueprint for us and the answer to all our questions.
Through his building skills, he taught us how to build a life. He taught us how to make a house into a home for our children. He taught us how to put family first and how always to help those around us.
Our father taught us how to work hard and how that hard work pays off in the end. Through days of feeling as if we’re doing it all for nothing and getting depressed, we remember how Dad taught us to keep moving forward and have faith it will work out.
Life dealt Dad some bad hands, but his way of seeing it as an opportunity to make a positive change inspires us to do the same. When something goes wrong for one of us or someone around us, we can draw upon Dad’s experience and see opportunity.
How will you thank your father this Father’s Day?
Maybe you’re a parent now too, or perhaps you haven’t gotten there yet. Either way, the lessons your dad has taught you help you through the good times and the bad.
Father’s Day is coming soon. It’s time to plan how you’re going to celebrate this day and thank your father for the sacrifices he made.
Your dad works hard and plays hard. Being comfortable, safe, and stylish through it all helps him feel better about himself.
What better way to thank your father than with a gift that helps him with all of that?
At Indestructible Shoes, we make safety shoes that can help him do more and enjoy life more. These shoes are perfect for all ages and all his activities, in the shop and out.
Just look at what these Indestructible Shoes wearers say:
“As a delivery driver for a major carrier, I am supremely impressed with this. My expectation was that of a cheaply made shoe. However, upon inspecting them and actually wearing them, it blew my expectations. They are comfortable, they are light (even with the steel toe), they remain cool during my long shifts, and most importantly, they are ‘grippy’ (they don’t skid or slide, have good traction) would buy another set in the future!”