you have to model it

“I think it is all about legacy. I trace it back to my father. I think about all the things that he has taught me about hard work, respecting other people, and about not taking yourself too seriously. Be yourself. Take the high road. It is my responsibility now to pass that on to my sons and daughters. This is the way we live our lives.

You can say it, but you have to model it. Your kids are keen enough to say I know that is what he said, but that is not what he did. You have to be consistent with that. If I boil it all down, one of the things that I try to have taught my kids is to add value. Add value to every situation that you are in. Was the classroom a better place because I was in it or was I a drain? Was I whining? Did I not do my work? What about my interaction with that person at the mall? Did I add value to that? Was it better because I was there or was it worse because I was there? I think you have to be constantly in that mode of making that world a better place because you were there for that moment. Did you diffuse a situation that was getting out of hand or did you put gasoline on it?

You have to add value. I try to model that for my kids.”

– Ernie Johnson, TNT Sports

Watching Ernie Johnson’s ESPN profile tonight at a hotel room in San Antonio, Texas made me think about the impact my dad had on me and a few qualities of his I’d like to pass on to my daughters.  Mom, I have a post for you as well (will share soon, promise)

While my dad hasn’t lived a perfect life, he was a near-perfect dad to me during the first decade and some of the most formative years of my childhood.  Below are a few of the qualities he instilled in me that I want to pass along to my girls.

  1. Reward kindness / empathy over everything:  When I was in the early grades of elementary school, my teacher randomly called my parents to tell them about how I helped a student that was having trouble with the task of the day.  That night and the following weeks to months after the call, my Dad treated me as if I found a cure for cancer.  I’m talking high fives, “I’m so proud of you” repeated over and over for weeks, maybe even a few frozen yogurts on random weeknights.  This response combined with watching him treat people in accordance with the golden rule was enough for me to know how big of a deal my display of kindness was to him.
  2. Reward effort and perseverance over performance:  Another story my dad likes to tell is the time I had diarrhea during a run we went on together when I was 7.  About halfway through the runs, I have an accident.  My dad offered to run home and grab the car and come pick me up but he says I insist on finishing the run.  While that story is embarrassing, I remember watching him tell it with so much pride that it erased the embarrassing elements.
  3. Be there often and without distraction:  My dad ensured he was home every  night at 6pm to eat dinner and read with us.  He did this for at least the first 10-12 years of my life.  He traveled to every soccer game and swim meet, took us to sunday school, and read fiction to us.  He didn’t just log time, he was always there, without distraction.

Thanks dad, and happy father’s day.