What will your best friends say at your funeral?
I came home from a road trip and my wife sat me down at the foot of our bed and said, “Your friend Dan Gunderson is dead”.
I couldn’t believe my ears, hoping it was a joke.
It was no joke.
This death caused me to think…
- What is a life well lived?
- What is greatness
- What does a legacy look like?
I have three questions for you and myself…
- Who has invested their time, life, and gifts in you?
- What would your best friends say about you?
- Who are you now investing your life skills and gifts in?
Someone who invested in me was my dad Bob… he was a real SOB (Sweet Old Bob).
He modeled and lived a life built on relationships.
You could pack all that he owned into his Chevrolet, but he left us incredible riches…
a great love and relationship with people, God, and nature.
My father built relationships with everyone, whether in Alcoholics Anonymous, church, family, or just on the street. He built and fostered relationships with everyone he met.
I brought him into my sales office to share his sales genius.
We were all prepared with notepad and pen in hand…
All he said was, “If you’re in this for the money, you’re only about half paid”
That was it! I was a little annoyed and disappointed that he didn’t have more and refused to speak more on the sales craft.
It’s taken me 30 years, but now I realize the genius of my father’s statement… which is build relationships with people and you’ll be paid in incredible riches.
My father was a World War II P 51 Mustang fighter pilot.
He killed many people in the South Pacific theater during the war.
Through sobriety that AA afforded him, he forgive himself and others, and connected to a relationship with God.
The Alcoholics Anonymous’ “higher power” had a name, face, and a real love, which my father translated to all he met.
He gave a grace and mercy and forgiveness to both himself and all those he knew.
My dad loved his flowers, and he had a tremendous appreciation for nature, creation, and all things that grew.
He would stop us in a park or a golf course and say,” Scott come and smell this flower, check out this plant!”
I would dutifully give the cursory sniff, only to find that he was right.
There was beauty all around us if we were only willing to stop and smell the flowers.
He taught me the best things in life are not things at all… they are a love for people, for God, for nature.
How do we leave a legacy?
Are we object-oriented people or relationship-oriented people?
An object-oriented person treasures and values that which is temporal.
Examples would be possessions, travel, experience, wealth, pleasure, etc.
A relationship-oriented person, on the other hand, values that which is more eternal and immortal.
Examples would be… being compassionate, a good listener, showing kindness, saying I love you, being a hugger, and generally valuing all people.
Your three more questions for you…
- What is most important to you?
- If you could change anything about your life what would it be?
- Why aren’t you doing that right now?
For me the answer is to invest in relationships and leave a piece of myself behind.
By investing in relationships, you will leave a richness in others, make a difference, and you will be changed.
One person who made a change in me was my deceased friend Dan Gunderson.
At his memorial, which was awesome and compelling and showed a life well lived, a little girl came forward to say a few words.
She bounced up front, happy and joyful, and began to speak of Dan’s love for her…then broke down and choked out, “Dan was my next-door daddy!!”
She wept openly as only a child can do.
Dan had taken the time to build a relationship with someone who was not core family, business, church, or other venue.
She was a little girl next door, and he reached out to her and made a difference.
My question to you, going forward, is just this…
To whom will you be a “next-door daddy“?
To whom will you reach out and make a difference in their lives …just because?
What’s the job of a coach?
The job of the coach is to make people do what they want to do, but will not do well, or perhaps even at all, without coaching.
A coach is a leader… he gets people to do things they never thought of, they think they cannot do, or do not want to do.
Your coach persona drives the action in your fathering game plan. Your coach persona may listen to excuses, but do not let excuses stop you from winning at the game of fathering…
So what is your next best?… how we get there?
Who can and will help you be a better father? Can you find and follow a few good examples and role models of fathers that were no better than you, but just a little more experienced?
Can you then spend time with those mentors and go deep and learn and emulate what they do to strengthen your commitment as a quality dad?
Can you seek out sources through a different strategy…
- books or tapes, CDs and DVDs
- introspection and journaling
- fathers who been there before, solved it before, and have the scars to prove it
- internet articles, magazines, radio shows and podcasts…
It is all out there for the taking. We simply need to be in intentional. This commitment to focus on the right direction, and getting wise counsel on fathering will lead to better follow-through in learning the dynamics of building relationships with our kids…
The corollary to this principle is we must jettison people and influences and friends who detract from our fathering plan.
They must not be allowed to obscure our mission goals or strategies to be better fathers.
You and I must get rid of poor influences and “friends” that are cross currents with good fathering… these could be otherwise good fun and normal relationships… the issue here is the usurping of time and energies, which should be devoted first to family and specifically toward children…
Will you seek out resources, including father mentors, with whom you will develop a relationship, from whom you will learn?
Are you accountable to anyone with your father action plan?
What will you do to get resourced?
If not you who?
If not now, when?