At the prompt of the lovely Kirsty from My Home Truths, today’s post is about the best advice I’ve ever received.
I must confess, I did ponder this topic for a while, and had trouble coming up with just one piece of advice – I’ve received a LOT of it over the years!
Then I thought about the most influential person in my life – my beloved late Dad. He was a successful business person who overcame a tough childhood to become one of the most compassionate and kind human beings I’ve ever met. He’s probably given me more advice than anyone else in my life – and the most beneficial advice! There’s plenty of it, so here goes …
9 Pieces of Advice My Dad Gave Me
1. Just give it a go love
Those of you who know me in real life these days might find it hard to believe, but I was a painfully shy child. On top of this, I moved schools in Year Two – and I had glasses! After being teased and excluded, I was a ball of anxiety all through primary school and only started to believe in myself and my abilities (just a little bit) in my teen years. Watching me coil up and go into my shell to protect myself must have been painful for my parents, particularly Dad, who would give just about anything a try. Dad would often say to me, “Just give it a go love, it doesn’t matter what happens.” Once I finally took his advice and jumped in to give some new things a try – well, what do you know – I could do it! Not everything was a success, of course, but now I’m much more willing to try new things. One of my favourite sayings is, “What’s the worst thing that could happen?”.
2. Don’t be a “Gunna”
This was one of my Dad’s biggest annoyances – people who say they’re “gunna” do this, or they’re “gunna” do that, and then never actually get around to taking any action. It really used to annoy him! He would say to me, “Don’t talk about it unless you plan to follow through and actually do it.” He nicknamed one of my young school friends “The Gunna” because she was always full of stories about what she was “gunna” do, but she rarely actually did any of them. He advised me to think about an idea and keep it to myself until I decided whether or not I was going to do it, then once I was sure, I could announce it to the world.
3. Always take responsibility for your own actions
Another important life lesson here. We all make mistakes, but trying to pass it off as someone else’s fault when you know you’ve done the wrong thing was a big no-no in my Dad’s book. Both my brother and myself had to own up to our mistakes or perhaps a fib we tried to get away with – and take our punishment. I remember owning up to a couple of incidents at school, while some of the others denied their involvement. It was never anything too major – usually talking in class or passing notes, but the nuns were harsh and I was dealt my punishment, while the others just laughed at me and thought they were very clever to get away without being punished. That was pretty hard to take, but Mum and Dad reassured me that I’d done the right thing. At least I slept well and wasn’t worried about being struck down! (That’s what some of the nuns would tell us, “If you tell a lie, God will strike you down,” …. it was terrifying stuff to us as kids!).
4. When you make a mistake, learn from it and don’t lose the lesson
As I’ve said above, we all make mistakes growing up and sometimes continue to make them in adulthood too. Dad would say to me, “Oh well love, it’s done now. What did you learn from it?” I would meekly reply, detailing the lesson, usually through tears at the thought of shaming my parents. Dad would then say, “Well, don’t lose the lesson. You’ll remember from now on, won’t you!” I sure did!
5. Always do what’s right, even when that’s the hardest thing to do
As we all know, some decisions in life are harder than others. Sometimes we have a choice to either do what’s easy or do what’s right – and harder. This has been a difficult one to follow at times, when it would be so much simpler to take the easy way out, and I can’t say that I’ve followed it 100% of the time, but when it truly matters, I do try to do the right thing – even if other people don’t always see it that way! This has come back to bite me where other people’s opinions of what is right in a particular situation have varied from mine. I can only do what I feel in my heart is truly the right thing to do.
6. Surround yourself with the best people
“In business and in life, it’s important to have the best people around you, to support you and help you, as you do the same for them”. Friends and family are very important to me. I have a few old friends who I’ve known since school, and they are among my treasured companions. They know me better than most people and will always be there for me, and I for them. I’ve also got a few newer friends who are beautiful and also very important to me. Other friendships come and go, depending on what’s happening in your life and what you’re involved in. There’s a saying, “People will come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime”. That’s so true – many people have come into my life to teach me some kind of lesson. When friendships have fallen apart, as they occasionally do, I think about what that friendship has taught me. Not everyone can stay in your life forever.
In business, I’ve tried to work in a team of people who are like-minded whenever possible. This hasn’t always been possible! However, I’ve worked in places where we are in sync and it’s amazing. The outcomes that we’ve achieved as a cohesive team are just incredible. You can achieve so much more as a collective who support one another than you can as individuals pulling in opposite directions.
7. Be generous with your time and affection
Dad was one of those people who loved a chat, and he was a good listener. Once I left home, he used to call me every Sunday morning (sometimes a little too early!) and chat about our week. I really miss those calls. He always took the time to talk to people and that really helped him in business too. He helped a lot of people both financially and emotionally over the years and never took any credit for it. He was a very generous man.
He also loved to hug. He was a tall man – around 6 feet 3 inches, with strong broad shoulders that he would wrap around us and squeeze, really hard. Sometimes I used to have to say, “Dad, I can’t breathe!”, so that he’d release his grip. Man, I REALLY miss those hugs! This is one area that I do struggle with. I only hug people I really like – I’m not a random hugger. At least, if you get a hug from me, you’ll know I give it with true affection, not because I feel I have to hug you.
8. The best way to connect with people is through stories
Thanks in part to his Italian heritage, Dad was a master storyteller, complete with animated hand movements to emphasise the good bits. We used to joke that he couldn’t talk if we tied his hands behind his back!
I inherited his love of stories and storytelling, and now apply that to my work as a professional writer, as well as here on my blog. Stories are a great way to connect with people and build relationships.
9. There’s better days ahead
One of Dad’s favourite toast was, “There’s better days ahead”. One time I said to him, “But Dad, today was a good day too”. He replied, “Yes love, I know. What I reckon that toast means is that we need to focus on thinking about the good things that are coming to us and not worry about anything bad that may or may not happen – keep it positive”.
So that’s what I’ve tried to do most of my life. Yes, things do get cloudy and dark sometimes, but if you focus on the good things and celebrate them, it makes for happier times.
Thanks Dad – I love you and miss you very much xox
Well, that’s just some of the words of wisdom my Dad imparted to me during the 40-odd years we spent together. What good advice have you received? Did you follow it?