I heard about a CEO who grew up in a house where they always had fascinating, meaningful dinner table conversations. When she asked her parents for something, her dad had her draw up a business plan. That's a wonderful story - but that's not my dad.
My dad was more likely to say, "Let's see what we can do." Or just as likely "Go ask your mom about that."
On TV today - Father's Day - I saw a story about a man who is attempting to row from Monterey, California, to Hawaii in honor of his late father, who was the first person to row solo, east to west across the Pacific. What an inspiring role model! But that's not my dad.
My dad was a natural athlete who could do well at almost any sport but never practiced and never competed. He taught us how to swim and play golf, but didn't care all that much about medals or scores.
My dad didn't break records or set the world on fire. He was busy working hard in the family business and navigating through life with a house full of women - my mother, my sister and I, my mother's aunt Mabel, and a non-stop string of female pets. Just when it couldn’t get any more female around our house, our collie Bonnie consummated a long-running flirtation with another collie on an icy sidewalk and a few months later, she delivered 11 puppies in our basement.
My dad dwelled in a world of tutus and pompoms and hair rollers and a stream of boys and young men ringing the doorbell to date his daughters. The only time he became “flapped” (as opposed to being “un-flappable”) was when a male advertising friend arrived to pick me up at my parents’ house wearing a full-fledged black satin cape – and it wasn’t Halloween.
My dad was a great one for sitting out on the patio at night after activity around home had died down. As he gazed at the stars, maybe he was gathering his resources for whatever tomorrow would bring.
My dad was a master behind the wheel of the car. He could drive tirelessly on our family vacations -- my sister and I in the backseat with a wall of blankets between us so we wouldn't fight. Our only complaints were that he sometimes breezed right by exits when we had to go to the bathroom and when we did stop, he'd get into a conversation with whoever else happened to be there and it would take a long time for us to get back on the road. He didn't want to stop, then he didn't feel the need to get going again. He'd always pick up some parcel of information from the people he met along the way.
When I think about my dad, maybe that was his gift. He didn't teach us business planning and executive skills. He didn't motivate us to be world-record-setting champions. But he was likable and curious and he knew how to enjoy the journey as well as the destination.