Lessons from my father

EditorsApr 25, 2014

Lessons from my father

I am writing this blog post from the sunny lanai (fancy Florida word for what we just called a porch when I lived in Pittsburgh) of my parents’ house in Florida.

It’s a beautiful day here, sunny and 75 degrees with just the perfect amount of breeze.

To say I’ve enjoyed spending this time, in this weather, with my parents is understatement. My dad turned 70 this year, bringing home the realization that my brother and I are no longer kids and that our time with our parents is somewhat limited. Just last week, we lost a dear family friend who had been our neighbor in Pittsburgh for more than 30 years. He was just one year older than my father, and his daughter, also a dear friend of mine, just two years younger than I am.

So instead of being annoyed at the work interruptions that tend to accompany my father’s friendly and talkative nature, I decided just this time to listen and enjoy. Life, after all, is short.

As this beautiful week draws to a close, I share a few of them with you here. Some of them are applicable to business while others more to life in general.

On long relationships (married in 1970, he and my mother will celebrate their 45th wedding anniversary next year) :
“Sometimes your mother is happy with me, sometimes she’s not.” (This statement was followed by a shrug.)
TAKEAWAY: Any kind of long-term commitment, whether it’s a business partnership or a marriage, is going to have its ups and downs. That’s just the way life is. Roll with it if you think it’s still worth the effort.

On working well with others:
“You’ve got to know how to talk to people.”
TAKEAWAY: After receiving notification from a friend in Pennsylvania that their lawn hadn’t been mowed by the service he had hired, my father proceeded to call the company and very politely inquire as to when they would mow the grass which, according to their friend, was quite high.

My father is a living example of the “you can catch more flies with honey” idiom. I never hear him raise his voice. He treats everyone with respect and it always pays dividends. People are kind and eager to help in exchange. Case in point here, the lawn company called back that same day to say the job had been completed.

(A reference those in the jewelry industry would appreciate:  my dad jokingly refers to himself  as “silver tongue,” meaning, for him, that he has a nice and persuasive
way of addressing people.  Following one particularly masterful exchange with a customer service representative, he upgraded himself to “platinum tongue,” which my brother and I found hilarious.)

On fixing a hot water problem that, as it turned out, just involved flipping a switch:
“Like an old-timer told me one time, look for the easiest thing.”
TAKEAWAY: I’ve actually never heard this expression before but I think it’s applicable in many situations. The answer is, more often than not, right in front of you.

On occupational hazards (after I met the very nice pest control guy who sprays their house):
“What do you think of the bug man?” jokingly twirls his finger next to his head to indicate the "bug man" might be a bit off. “Too much bug spray.”
TAKEAWAY: Try not to inhale too many fumes.

Have a great weekend.
Michelle Graffis the editor-in-chief at National Jeweler, directing the publication’s coverage both online and in print.

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