A Lesson From My Father

A few days ago, I was listening to the radio (Oprah’s Lifeclass). The guest, Tony Robbins, was in the process of taking the audience through a gratitude meditation, where he asked them to remember and reflect on something that happened in their lives for which they were grateful– any moment, whether recent or from their childhood.

As he spoke, I reflected on my own moments of gratitude. The first one that popped into my head, was from my childhood. It may seem like such a simple moment, but it is one that changed my life, and it came from my father.

I was probably around eight years old, and I’d just finished cleaning the kitchen, a chore I’d rushed through so I could go play outside. I let my dad know I’d finished, so he could come “inspect” and give me the “okay” to go outside. My heartbeat alternated with pounding anticipation and skipping dread. Anticipation, because I couldn’t wait to join my friends outside. Dread, because I hoped he wouldn’t find the things I hadn’t done properly.

But, he did.

“Jan,” he said, patiently. “Look here.” He pointed to the area behind the sink faucet. “Does that look clean to you?”

Embarrassed and disappointed, I shook my head.

“And don’t you think you should have put the dishes away?”

I nodded.

“Did you do the best job you could do?”

Of course I hadn’t. “No,” I said.

He leaned on the counter and crossed his arms, watched me for what was probably a few seconds, but felt like forever. Then, he spoke the words I still hear in my head when I feel the urge to “be lazy.”

“You know, it really doesn’t matter what I think about the job you did. What really matters is what you know right here.” He tapped his head. “You should always do the best job you can do. Then, if you’ve truly done your best, you will feel good about it.”

There are many lessons my father has taught me, but this was the first one that came to my mind when I thought about what I’m grateful for. Thank you, Dad. I love you.

Happy Father’s Day!

What lessons did you learn from your father?

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10 Responses to A Lesson From My Father

  1. Linda Apple says:

    Oh that all young fathers in this world would read this! Oh that they would have your father’s wisdom and kindness. Beautiful Jan.

  2. erinleary says:

    Your dad and mine taught the same way. I had that same conversation with my dad. Their wisdom and patience spoke louder than raised voices or harsh words ever would. I try to practice that with my own kids.

  3. rgayer55 says:

    Great post, Jan. I learned a lot from my father about doing the job right, honesty, dependability, and other virtues. Hopefully, some of these lessons filtered down to my children and will be instilled in the next generation as well.

  4. Dad says:

    Jan, this is very touching and I am moved that you remember. Thank God that there were a few good things that happened back in those days. I love you.

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