I celebrated my father’s death anniversary three months ago. While I think of him every single day, it is around the time of his death anniversary that I like to reflect on life lessons that he imparted to me over many years and well into my adult life. Besides being my best friend and guide, he was a supportive husband, successful corporate executive, and adviser. Here are a few life lessons I learned from him that you may find useful.
Be open-hearted. A significant part of being open-hearted is the ability to challenge your own assumptions and the willingness to try new things despite being uncomfortable. My father asked me to be in a school play in eighth grade. Theater was foreign to me then. I portrayed a person stricken with fear while hiking in a forest. I did a horrific job because I found the audience laughing at me.
While I have never been in a play again, that experience, in hindsight, made other new and uncomfortable experiences just a bit easier, such as when I presented my company’s successful growth story to a group of private equity and portfolio company executives. Having a framework to tackle these tough paths lessens the discomfort every time.
When one is in crisis mode, slow down and spend time alone to sharpen the real issue at hand. The tougher the problem at hand, the more I find the need to reframe the issue. Sometimes, more time needs to be spent on the problem at hand than the solution itself. And, sometimes, it may be prudent not to participate in the problem and simply walk away.
Work on the right thing before you work harder. If you want a significant change in your results, then you probably need a significant change to your habit, discipline or your vision. Working harder on your current vison in the same manner is unlikely to be productive. Challenge your own assumptions. It may help you sharpen the issue you are trying to resolve.
Take the high road when you come across a conflict in a meaningful relationship. Meaningful relationships are built over trust, honesty, reciprocity and support. So, why take the high road? There is this idea that one’s reality may be a perception. One can challenge their own assumptions also. Facts may be revealed over time that may alter the reality of what you are seeing today. What is the purpose of having negative emotions while fretting over conflict? Those can be quite toxic and diminish our ability to think clearly. One has a choice.
Practice self-awareness and reflection daily. Be aware of your biases, especially those things of which you are most proud. Intelligence equals knowing what to do while wisdom is knowing when to do it. You can be highly educated and intelligent, but you are still able to make mistakes without wounding your ego. Your mistakes do not lessen your values or who are as a person. Self-awareness grows over time, especially with practice. Figure out what you want and then build a system around you to achieve your goals.
Everyone’s relationship with their father is unique, so the specific life lessons learned can vary widely. Reflecting on your own experiences and relationship with your father will reveal the most significant lessons you’ve learned from him. ●
Sanjay Singh is executive chairman of the board of directors at Mace Security International