Pops knows best.
This has been a proven fact throughout my life. No matter the question, dad would have the answer. Even if he didn’t know it, he’d give his best logical guess. And he’d almost always be right.
But it’s not necessarily that my dad is smarter than everyone else. It’s that he’s constantly curious. He genuinely wants to know more about the world.
At the same time, he’s stubbornly level-headed. You won’t find him on a bandwagon until he’s positive it’s the real deal. If he’s learning something new, it’s only to guide his voice of reason.
All this to say that — over the course of 26 years — pops has provided some surefire pearls of wisdom that will stick with me for life. Keeping them to myself would be just too selfish. So here you go.
1. Always be methodical.
Growing up, almost every skill dad taught me included a “methodical” element. Making scrambled eggs. Mowing the lawn. Writing a grocery list. No matter what, each task had a strategy behind it. A subtle game plan that got the job done quicker, easier, and better.
As his Aries daughter, let’s just say I’ve never been meticulous. I tend to go at a project from five different angles before I realize the 6th angle was the one I should have taken. I’m a leap-before-I-look kind of person. In this case, the apple fell very, very far from the tree.
But despite my natural messiness, dad’s methodical approach to life has stayed with me since I was a kid. When I have my classic knee jerk reaction to any task (imagine just complete and utter brain chaos), dad’s lesson soon follows to bring me back to solid ground.
There is always a method. There is always a route you can take. There is always a way to prepare and strategize, while still leaving room for little pockets of spontaneity. “Always be methodical” is about making everything a little easier so you have more time for what (and who) you love.
I haven’t perfected this life lesson yet, but I know it’s not going anywhere. And luckily, I have dad to continuously remind me of it whenever I stray off course.
2. Understand money (and adult stuff), but don’t let it scare you.
I still vividly remember my dad teaching me about how insurance works. We sat at the kitchen table and he drew pictures and circles to explain the way money is grouped and distributed.
I’ve always had a tendency to avoid things that confuse me. Before that point, the concept of insurance might as well have been astrophysics. But dad has a way of making scary adult stuff simple. And not just simple, but understandable in a way that actually sticks.
97% of my school teachers didn’t have that skill. But for dad, it just comes naturally to him. He’s a born educator. What’s more, he actually loves doing it.
As I’ve stumbled into adulthood and been met with even more SAS (scary adult stuff), I’ve turned to dad for his straightforward explanations. His lessons are always calm and calculated. My panic subsides every single time.
Yes, he’s taught me a lot about insurance and taxes and what tool to use when taking apart a bed frame. But, the real lesson here comes from his approach to the lesson.
It’s never frantic. It’s never stressed. It’s never concerned or overwhelmed. I guess you could say it’s methodical. And that has taught me the value of understanding without fear. That has taught me that money is simply money. It has come before and it’ll come again.
And no matter how many times I come to him in a frenzy — babbling about some life-altering problem I need to solve — he just shrugs, clears his throat, and tells me why the problem, in fact, isn’t a problem at all.
It’s just a chance to learn, grow, and keep on livin’.
3. Have integrity. No matter what.
When COVID first started, dad and I were discussing the sudden shortage of supplies. I told him if I was desperate, I could just borrow toilet paper from work. His response: “As long as they let you, or it’s not ‘borrowing’”.
That one response sums up my dad — and arguably his most important life lesson. I have yet to meet someone who has more integrity than my pops. His awareness of what it means to be a good person (and I mean really, truly a good person) is deep. Far deeper, I’ll admit, than mine is.
He’s the kind of guy who does good deeds secretly so that nobody ever has to recognize him for it. He’s the kind of driver who lets other cars cut ahead of him without a fuss. He’s the kind of person who finds a $20 in the store and brings it to an employee for the owner to (probably never) retrieve.
As I struggle to find my footing as a human, dad continuously challenges me to be better. Sure, I could take that roll of toilet paper home. But does that feel right? Sure, I could only give my job two week’s notice. But is that considerate of how much time they’ll actually need to find my replacement?
It’s not necessarily about doing good deeds every day. It’s about embodying integrity. It’s about making it a part of who you are and how you move through the world. Dad doesn’t try to be someone who respects others. He just is. At his core.
And the very best part about this lesson is seeing how every single person who has ever met my dad respects the hell out of him, too.
4. Choose your career before it chooses you.
This has been ingrained in me for as long as I can remember. And it came straight from pops.
Listen, dad did what he needed to do to give all of us the picturesque childhood we got. He worked his ass off (and then some) at a company that relies on him to thrive for over three decades now. Started at the bottom, working the production line. Made it to the top, managing entire operations and making sure those workers on the production line have the same opportunities he had.
Was it his childhood dream? Not in the least. But how many people do you know who are in a career they truly love?
That reality wasn’t an option for his daughters. From the moment we understood what a job was, dad made it very clear that we could choose to make money however we wanted. And it was none of that “do what you love but make sure you have job security and good benefits” BS that some of my friends heard.
It was painstakingly genuine, heartfelt, and encouraging, to the point where all three of his kids knew that the only option was to follow our hearts.
From a very young age, I knew that I could create my life to look a certain way. And if I didn’t, my life would create itself without me even realizing it.
Today, my oldest sister is a small business owner in an industry she loves. My middle sister is a successful actor and artist. And I am a writer and aspiring entrepreneur, still on the search for my passion and purpose.
Not one of us has chosen the path of least resistance. In fact, we all chose the opposite. We chose struggle and uncertainty and exhilaration. And we wouldn’t have it any other way.
If you asked dad, I think he’d say that’s the thing he’s most proud of.
There you have it. Free sage advice from the best guy I’ve ever known.
Approach life methodically — it’ll bring clarity, focus, and efficiency to every task.
Don’t fear adulting — it’s not that scary and it’s really not worth the time you spend stressing over it.
Always have integrity — the kind of person you are every day, even when nobody is watching, is the kind of life you’ll attract.
And make money doing something that lights you up — before something that dims you down becomes a necessity.
Dad, thank you for teaching me these lessons and countless more. I’ll never stop learning from you, and that’s one of the great privileges of my life.
Happy Father’s Day.