My father was never one to preach dad-isms, such as money doesn’t grow on trees or when I was your age, I trekked to school five-miles uphill!
Still, dads usually have a funny way of weaseling their way into our minds, particularly our jobs. Even if you shy away from their footsteps and venture on your own career path, you can’t help but learn a thing or two watching his work ethic, day in and day out.
I had the privilege to watch my dad’s career start over from zero to full steam in the past 16 years. He was once an established, high-ranked engineer in India, but back in ’96 he uprooted to the US for more opportunities, better lifestyle—all that jazz. It was his career’s second wind, except he had to learn brand new ropes and this time with a family.
Not to turn this into a cheese-fest, but I couldn’t help but pick up a thing or two from his strong character and hard work in his journey from bottom to top, like:
1. “If you’re going to do it, do it right”
My dad never skips a step. He’s all about mastering the foundation before moving on to the next phase. From building furniture to taking night classes for his post-graduate degree—I watched him patiently read the entire manual and text books from cover-to-cover to accurately learn and master each task at hand, even if it meant going back to the basics. This type of attention to detail can boost your expertise and performance in any field—as my dad says: triple check your work!
2. “Perseverance will pay”
His first job in the states was an hourly and commission position as a vacuum salesman. You can imagine how difficult it was for an immigrant fresh off the plane to convince folks to buy a product he had little knowledge about. But this was his job. It seemed hopeless, but it gave him the opportunity to practice communicating with customers. So he kept at it.
He never gave up and the job ended up paying in more than just wages (he learned valuable communication and adaptation skills). This made him tougher. This same perseverance helped him eventually land a position that utilizes his experience and skill set. The lesson here is if you don’t push yourself through the hard part and finish what you start, you’ll miss out major on opportunities to grow.
3. “Weigh all risks in your career”
Spontaneity was never my dad’s forte. Sure, it has its place in life and can make for a great story or two. But when it comes to your career, each move should be thought out carefully. Prioritize and decide whether the cons outweigh the pros of major decisions. My dad relocated four times in the last 15 years (for better opportunities), and he involved the family each time. We sat and explored questions like would the relocation costs be worth it? How about the town’s school system? Making educated, well-informed career decisions will make you much happier in the long run than rolling the dice!
4. “Keep your word”
Keeping your word goes hand-in-hand with managing others’ expectations. When asked if we can take a family trip to Disneyland, my dad saved me from the troubles of “maybe” or “we’ll see” if he knew it just wasn’t feasible at the time. Crazy empty promises are setups for huge long-term letdowns—this is especially true when it comes to dealing with your uppers at work. It’s much more respectable to tell the realistic truth than to tell your boss what he wants to hear. As the saying goes: always underpromise and overdeliver.
5. “Make time for yourself”
Through all of the pitfalls, it’s important to realize that life isn’t all about work. Take time to do what you love with the people you love and enjoy the ride, my dad always says. That’s why, no matter what, he makes it a goal to never bring home work—even if it means going into work a little earlier. He comes home daily at 6 PM, kicks up his feet and watches his favorite singing shows with my mom. After all, we’re not machines! Taking breaks is important to de-stress, rejuvenate and do your absolute best.
6. “Respect others”
My dad lives by the simple Golden Rule: Treat others the way you want to be treated. A huge part of respecting others is building listening skills, he says.
He’ll never be the guy checking his smartphone while talking to you. He’ll never shrug his shoulders when asked a question. Instead, he will work with you to find the answers. This courtesy and respect goes a long ways in building solid relationships and communicating effectively with coworkers and bosses.
Happy Father’s Day! What are some career lessons your dad or caregiver taught you?