Dads come in all shapes and sizes, but many of them have one thing in common: they give great life advice.
We looked at what Quora users had to say about their dads and the valuable lessons they learned. We found that most fathers led by example, and the ones that didn’t still taught their children valuable lessons about all the possible mistakes that can be made in life.
In honor of fathers, pops, and dads everywhere, here are 12 indispensable pieces of advice on how to live your life to the fullest and get everything you want from it.
Speak persuasively and listen wholeheartedly.
Quora user Hannah Yang wrote about the hours she spent at the bookstore with her father, gathering their favorite titles and deciding which ones to take home.
Yang wanted all the books, but her dad said that they could only take a select few. So they each had to defend their choices. Yang said that this taught her to be a persuasive speaker and a careful listener. It also taught her to keep an open mind:
“We didn’t do this often — maybe once every few months or so. Sometimes we’d end up buying armfuls of books, and sometimes none at all. When we came home with a new haul, my mom would usually sigh disapprovingly and remind us that we shouldn’t keep buying things we didn’t need. And I knew she was right.
Then my dad would reassure her by saying that books are a worthwhile investment in the people we want to become.
And I know now, without a doubt, that he was right too.”
Saving money is essential.
Quora user Linda Rappaport‘s dad was deeply affected by the Great Depression: his own father’s glazier business had collapsed, and both his parents passed away when he was 16 years old.
After that, he treated money differently, and did his best to instill those same beliefs in his daughter. When Rappaport was a kid and wanted a new TV, her dad said he’d only buy it if she contributed half the money. After slowly earning enough through babysitting, she got the long-awaited purchase. She said that she wouldn’t have appreciated the TV as much if her dad had just bought it. And now, she’s carried on that appreciation of the value of money:
“I just retired from teaching last week. My house will be paid for in October. My two sons have graduated from excellent private universities — debt-free. I will receive a pension, social-security, and an individual retirement plan that I have assiduously saved for over the course of my career. I will be able to travel, to work on my second novel, spend time with friends and family.
This situation required two things — the understanding that time passes whether we plan for the future or not. And that saving regularly over a long period of time yields good results.
There is nothing like taking care of oneself. And I have my Dad to thank for this lesson.”
There is no such thing as a mistake.
When children learn a new skill, like drawing, they can get frustrated easily, especially when they have a parent who’s perfect at it.
When she was 6 years old, Quora user Claire Yang was drawing fish with her dad, when she realized her fish was much fatter than his. Her dad said that fish come in all shapes and sizes, and that this didn’t make her drawing worse than his.
A while later, Yang made a stray mark near her fish by accident. She complained to her dad, asking him for an eraser. He said that she could change that mark into a wave or another fish behind the main one, and that she didn’t need an eraser. Because of that drawing, Yang learned a valuable lesson in being creative and adapting:
“And so, I created a beautiful fish masterpiece at the age of 6, not a ‘mistake’ to be found.
Through this, I learned a number of things that I would consider later in art as well as general life. He taught me to be original and unique, to turn a negative into a positive, to expand my creativity, and that there is no such thing as a ‘mistake.'”
Commit to everything you do.
Quora user Jack Martin‘s father taught him the value of commitment, even if it came at a price.
Martin loved to play football for the high school team, but didn’t like going to the frequent meetings, games, and early-morning practices. His dad always said the same thing: that he had made a commitment, and that he would stick to it.
Even in college, just when Martin thought he would have his freedom, his dad’s words stayed with him. He writes:
“In my four years playing college football, I’m proud to say my attendance at meetings, practices, workouts and games was near 100% — only missing due to illness. Even without my dad there, his words ‘You made a commitment, you’re going’ came to my mind every time I thought about skipping a lift, practice or a meeting.
Regardless of how tired I was, how much homework I had, what my friends were doing, I kept [my] commitment to football.
Naturally, this poured over to everything else in my life. Any time I made a commitment, I stuck to it, and I still do it today.”
Play the hand you’re dealt.
Quora user Kenneth Downer‘s dad always wanted to be a pilot. But while training to join the Air Force, he was told that his glasses would prevent him from flying. He had already signed on to join the Air Force, so they gave him a desk job as a supply manager. He eventually did earn a private pilot’s license, making his dream come true.
“There are lots of things you can’t control, so don’t waste your time trying. Focus on the things you can control, and do your very best with what you have. He did his best, and that opened up new possibilities.
I’m happy to say that my Dad is still going strong. In fact, as he approached his 80th birthday last year, my mom asked him if there was anything special that he’d like to do. ‘Yes’ was his answer, ‘as a matter of fact, there is.’ He wanted to fly.”
If you have a problem, be honest about it and accept help.
Quora user Daniel Grandt Jakobsen offered a painful lesson he learned from his dad.
Jakobsen’s father battled alcoholism and depression, but was never open enough with others to work on his problems. Instead, he continued to drink, which only made the problems worse. Jaksobsen writes:
“So with a house half torn apart, constant relationship issues, and a job that invaded his private life … it was hardly a surprise that he ended up with a depression. He admitted how difficult it was for him — when he was drunk. When he would go to the psychiatrist or other professionals, he would say he only drinks a glass of wine on the weekends — which was not only a lie, but also messed up the medication. He would also not be honest/open about things to them. He made it impossible to help him, despite great efforts from family, friends and professionals.”
Jakobsen went on to say that “he was one of the most intelligent men I knew” and that “he certainly was a great dad and still is, to the best of his ability.”
Quora user John Monarch is the CEO of shipping logistics company Shipchain. He also has a fearless dad. The elder Monarch wanted to enlist in the army to fight in the Korean War, so he hitchhiked halfway across the US alone, joined up, and fought overseas, all at age 15.
He went on to find success as an executive in a Fortune 500 company, which was a long way from where he started: Depression-era Michigan. Monarch writes:
“My dad’s journey to success wasn’t easy, but his hard work paid off. He pulled himself up and gave our family a good life. Watching him become a successful executive instilled me with a willingness to take risks. He taught me the lessons that most learn only through hard-earned experience.”
Never be a hypocrite.
Some parents employ the classic saying, “Do as I say, not as I do.” Quora user Victor Strawn‘s dad would have called this hypocrisy. Strawn recalls his father explaining a moral lesson to him:
“He said: ‘If I tell you not to do something, that means that it is something I wouldn’t do. If you ever catch me doing something I told you not to do, then I will give you permission to do it too.’
Now, as a boy, I took him up on his word. I went out of my way for years to catch him doing something he forbade me from doing.
Through my childhood and my teenage years, never once did I catch him doing anything. And he was a transparent fellow. He came home straight from work, and never ‘disappeared.'”
Since becoming a parent himself, Strawn has found it a challenge to follow his father’s principle, but he tries to be a man of his word like his dad was.
Be healthy, no matter what.
Quora user Thomas Antunez lost his father to type II diabetes when his father was only 58 years old. A few years before that, his father’s diabetes forced doctors to amputate his leg below the knee.
That amputation startled Antunez into action. He was in a pre-diabetic state himself, just as his father had been as a young man. So he began eating healthy and exercising five times a day. He lost 50 pounds in two years. Antunez learned this from his father, who he says was never able to learn it himself:
“Think about how many things you can control in your life. Not many. But you can control diet and exercise. You get to make those choices with full decision making ability.
When you do that successfully, you transform. Life is just better.
I thank my father for teaching me many things about life. He was a great man who loved his family. Through his untimely death I learned the greatest lesson of all: health is the foundation of happiness.”
Quora user David Ben Horin‘s dad taught him to be patient.
Horin’s dad was a stock broker for decades, and saw his colleagues and friends accumulate wealth, only to get greedy, bet too much of it on the market, and lose it all. He was patient, however, through every boom and bust on Wall Street.
Much like Aesop’s fabled tortoise, he waited for his chance to earn money, slow and steady, until he had a good standard of living. Horin writes:
“Patience is about small increments. Nickels and dimes may not be much, but they sure add up. Only someone who is patient can get so excited about the small movements. The patient are detailed oriented. The patient wait for the right opportunity. The patient work as hard as they can for every inch.”
If you can make money by pursuing your passion, then do it.
Quora user Sindhu Satish was taught a lesson some people take decades to learn.
His father, among other people in his family, was in finance and made good money, and Satish felt that he needed to follow their example. But his dad said that passion was more important.
Satish’s passion had been to become a life coach. So his dad advised him to get an MBA in marketing, which Satish preferred to finance, and work his way toward his passion. Despite not making quite as much money as he would have, Satish never regretted the decision.
“And that’s what I exactly did,” writes Satish. “Today, thanks to some brilliant advice, I am able to pursue my passion while making money [from] it.”
Be optimistic and have a sense of humor.
Quora user Cyndi Perlman Fink had the type of father who must have reveled in the occasional dad joke.
One of his favorite pastimes was to carry jokes around in his pocket, written on cards, and tell them to anyone who’d listen. He also had an answering machine message that said, “This is Len and here’s the beep!” Fink continues:
“He taught me to treat everyone with kindness until they proved otherwise. He taught me to laugh. He taught me how to tell a joke. He gave me the gift of his sense of humor.
He was optimistic. He always believed that tomorrow would be better than today, no matter how horrible today was.
He taught me never to hang up the phone without saying, ‘I love you.'”
After he passed away, Fink found her dad’s burial suit for the funeral. She happened to notice several cards in the pockets, all of which read: “This is your dad. I love you. Don’t cry because I’m gone. Always keep laughing and here’s the beep.”
Originally published on Business Insider.
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