Some of my earliest memories are of my grandpa taking me to the beach when I was little to play in the sand and look for seashells. I still think of him virtually every time I see the ocean even though he passed away nearly 10 years.
This isn’t all that surprising though since it was my grandpa who taught me how to swim and gave me my love for the ocean and nature in general. In fact, he taught me a whole lot of things, and I count myself lucky to have been able to spend so much time with him when I was younger.
Grandfathers play a special role in the lives of their families, and nowhere is this truer than when it comes to their grandsons who tend to look at their grandpas with a special kind of awe and reverence.
This respect that young boys have for their grandfathers as a source of infinite wisdom means that they are often one of the greatest influences in a child’s life, which helps to explain why grandpas can teach us so many things.
With this in mind, here are four things everyone should have learned from his grandfather.
How to Dress the Part
Although this might not always be the case, grandpas tend to be quite stylish and well-dressed. Older men grew up in a much different time when it was still quite common for most every man to wear a suit.
This was true no matter what level of society one was at, as customs and standards of the time dictated that a gentleman ought to dress well in all occasions.
I can still remember my first big family vacation when we went to visit my aunt in Chicago when I was five. Soon before we were set to leave for the airport, my grandpa took me into his room so we could both change into our suits.
Grandpa is probably the reason why I became so interested in grooming. He always took good care of himself. Actually, whenever I saw him his face was either shaved like a baby or he had that well-trimmed, completely dyed black beard —and this was way long before beards became a feature women look for in men.
Also, and like many people from his generation, he always dressed in a suit when traveling as he said it was important to respect and celebrate the occasion.
Although it may seem silly to some people, this advice has stuck with me throughout my life to the point where I still always wear a suit or at least business casual when I fly—no matter whether it’s for work or pleasure. Of course, the meaning of this story isn’t that you need to wear a suit when traveling.
Instead, it’s about taking pride in your appearance and learning how to dress for the occasion, which is something I believe many people of my generation have forgotten or were never properly taught and is something all grandpas should teach their grandsons.
The Importance of Respect
Respect is another thing that seems to be lacking a bit these days, but it was something that my grandpa stressed the importance of to me over and over.
He was a firm believer in the Golden Rule, i.e. treat others how you want to be treated, and he practiced this principle in all of his interactions.
No matter who he was dealing with or what kind of mood he might have been in, my grandpa would always greet people with a kind word and a smile. For him, respect meant treating everyone equally and with dignity, openness, and warmth.
This type of respect means listening to others and taking in their opinions instead of being quick to judge and overly critical. My grandpa would never shy away from a debate, but he would always listen to and carefully consider the other person’s point of view even if in his heart he knew he was right.
This tied in with his idea of respect, and he felt that every person deserved to be heard just as they deserved to be treated with dignity. In fact, he believed everyone deserved respect until they showed otherwise in a sort of innocent until proven guilty way.
This type of respect is something we could definitely use more of these days, but the problem is that this level of respect isn’t an ingrained trait that we’re born with.
Instead, it is something children should learn at a young age and reinforced throughout their growing life. In this sense, the special bond shared between grandfathers and their grandsons makes grandfathers the ideal person to teach a child the importance and value of respect.
The Definition of a True Leader
My grandpa was never the loudest person in the room, but he never had to be. Just as he always gave everyone respect, he also commanded tons of respect from all those who were closest to him.
Never shy to give advice, my grandpa was also careful never to intrude or try to push in inconvenient times. For him, being a strong leader wasn’t about being loud, boisterous or demanding. Rather it was about always being there for people and treating everyone with honesty and respect.
The best leaders are the ones who know when to take charge, but also know when their help isn’t needed. Similarly, leaders need to let people make their own mistakes as this is the only way people truly learn.
I was lucky enough to LEARN this type of leadership from a young age, and it is something that I have used to help guide me to a successful career and owning my own business.
A grandfather’s unique role as the head of the family ensures that they are the ideal figure to teach young children how to be a good leader. In fact, if you think about your own life you can probably come up with numerous small examples where your grandpa showed you the right way to lead.
How to Have Fun and Enjoy Life
Above all, I remember my grandfather as someone who was never afraid to let his hair down when the occasion called for it.
Although he could be deadly serious when he needed to be, he was always ready with a good joke and could quickly have the whole room bursting with laughter.
For him, life was something that was to be enjoyed and not stressed about, and he truly believed that happiness brings good health. Even though he didn’t have the easiest life and always had to work hard, he tried to find opportunities in obstacles. He was also good at leaving everything behind when he was with family.
Of everything I learned from my grandpa, this is probably the most important thing—to try to enjoy life and live every day to its fullest. He used to tell me that none of us know how long we’ll be here so it’s important to use the time we have while we have it.
Of all the various roles that a grandpa plays in a young boy’s life, perhaps this is the biggest—to teach them that life isn’t just about hard work, heartache, and hardships.
Of course, there will be plenty of this along the way. But there can also be a ton of good times, excitement and enjoyment for those who are willing to seek them out instead of just sitting back idly while life passes them by.
Originally published at www.pickthebrain.com