Leadership Lessons from My Dad

Section 134 at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Best seats to watch the Buffalo Bills with my dad.

In my experience, strong leadership isn’t something that we learn in a lecture or a classroom. It is something we develop through our experiences, challenges, and the examples of others. Some people are a great example of strong leadership, while others are equally valuable to observe for the benefit of seeing the effects of poor leadership. I have learned a lot from being around my father; Here are some things I will share.

My dad never complains
I hate whining, and it is probably because of my dad. To me, whining and complaining about other people and circumstances is the antithesis of leadership. While I was growing up In the 1980’s, my dad worked in a rough job environment, drove long distances, endured an ever changing work schedule, buried both of his parents, and never once did I hear him complain about life. In fact, I’ve never heard him complain about anything, ever! I learned from my dad that it is better to get things done than it is to sit around and complain about how difficult it is to get things done. Or complain about the people actually getting things done. Good lesson learned here.

My dad never quits
Have you ever met someone that lacks self-control, is very impulsive, and then commits to doing something only to back out later? Well, my dad is the opposite. One thing I learned from him, is that you don’t commit to something you’re not willing to see through to the end. Sure, there are times when we realize we’ve made a mistake or something needs to be changed, but generally speaking this is a man that if he says he’s going to do something, he does it, no matter what it takes. When he changes course on something, it is something that has been thought through, options weighed, and a plan for success has been identified. No quitting.

My dad doesn’t care what “they” think
There’s a difference between being strong enough to make the right decisions, and being “jerk” enough to just do what you want all the time. My dad has done a good job of falling on the correct side of that fine line. And it isn’t the “jerk” side, either.

My dad believes in loyalty
I live in a very tightly knit family, where we are always there for each other, no matter what. When I married my wife, she instantly became “Family” to my parents equal with my brother and I. I once visited one of my dad’s friends out-of-state and he said something to me I never forgot: “Your dad is the most loyal friend I have ever had.” Loyalty is a huge family value for us. To even question our “loyalty” is possibly the deepest insult that can be made towards any of us. That is why we are so selective in who we invest in, and treasure those that we call “friend.”

My dad is harder working than you
Being a hard worker is useless if you do not prioritize quality time with your family. If you’re making excuses in your head over this, it probably means you’re failing in this area and need to make some courageous and decisive decisions about your life! My dad does a lot of work both inside and outside the house. Before he retired he worked hard all his life at what he did for a living. Now, he works every day at maintaining his home, laundry and dishes, taking care of his mother-in-law (until she passed peacefully in her sleep at age 95), and being present as a grandfather to my kids, and a dad to my wife. He knows how to sit down and unwind, but he’s never been a guy who sits around and doesn’t do anything. I learned this from him.

My dad defines generosity
My father is no sucker; He isn’t about to be scammed by anybody. Over the years my brother and I have grown up understanding what it means to be a giving person, a generous person, and kind to others by watching my dad engage the rest of the world. He is generous with his finances, his friendship, and forgiveness. His generosity to others is perhaps the best lesson my brother and I have learned from being around him, and a personal marker and trait of his that points to the gospel more than any other.

These are some quality lessons I have learned from my dad. What have you learned from someone close to you?

4 responses to “Leadership Lessons from My Dad”

  1. How I hope your Dad reads this – so often we just don’t really tell people how much they mean to us and how much we have learned from them – until they’re gone.You’re a really good writer, Daniel!

  2. Dan, that is a great tribute to your father…it would be an honor to meet him some day. I was fortunate, like you, to have a father that knew what he was doing. I think they are few and far between these days.

    • Thank you Steve. One easy way to meet him: Next time you’re at a Buffalo Bills home game, just go to section 134 and look for the guy wearing a black baseball hat with large green letters that spell: “IRISH” hahaha

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