(James George Adams – My Father-in-Law)

Lessons from my Father (and Father-in-Law)

Interesting day, Father’s Day.  Here I sit in my favorite chair, with my sons coming in for dinner and my wife trying to shield me from work.  So what do I decide to do?  Write a blog.  As a raging workaholic, it seems only appropriate.  And since it’s Father’s Day, I thought I would share four things that my father and father-in-law taught me that help me keep my professional sanity.

  • Just keep moving
  • When you don’t have cause to move, create one
  • Keep throwing stuff at the wall until something sticks
  • Look like you’re having a great time

Just Keep Moving

Wow, does that sound like my father.  Len Pritchard was also a workaholic zealot.  Like father, like son (on that score).  Dad was a big believer that every minute of life was the marrow in the bone, and our job was to draw out every possible opportunity out of every possible minute.  Growing up, it drove me nearly insane, as he seemed unable to understand why I was desperately trying to learn the script of every episode of Get Smart. 

As an adult and a consultant, I now see where Dad was coming from.  I’m well past the half-way mark on my three-score-and-ten, and I realize that there is an end to all of this, and I want to leave behind a legacy that I actually did something and helped folks during that time.  If you’re moving, there’s a better chance of that.

Create a Reason to Move

In addition to being a workaholic, I’m also anal-retentive.  The proof?  My daily checklists.  Every day.  Every day, I strive to knock down 15 items from my daily to-do list.  The list includes everything from walking the dog to writing a chapter for new books.  And if I don’t think I’m going to make the magic “15”?  I create new items to ensconce myself more deeply with my friends, my wife, my clients, and my profession.  The list gets longer and longer, rather than shorter.  As a result, I produce.  I once had a student ask me how I’ve written over 300 articles, 7 books, produced dozens of audios and videos.  My reply: Just keep moving.

Throw It at the Wall

Thanks to my father-in-law, I’m comfortable with just trying stuff.  Jim Adams was an amazing human being.  His gift was an ability to do things that made him look just a little goofy, but that would bring him closer to his personal goals.  He bought toys for my children that they broke.  He went through a string of careers before he decided that teaching would pay the bills.  He made furniture that will not survive the generations, and he laughed.  A lot.

I thank him for making me realize that every venture doesn’t have to be an amazing success.  But it does have to contribute to your own sense of well-being and the sense that the future has promise.  From my failed “Critical Path Game” to a half-dozen courses that never flew, each made me better for the stuff the does fly and that my clients appreciate.  It’s a concept I’ve heard more and more about recently…Fail, but Fail UP!

Look like You’re Having a Good Time

My wife loves using the phrase “Fake it till you make it.”

She got that from her father.  And so did I. It’s compelling to realize that a smile on your face often helps plant a smile on the faces of others.  In everything I do from keynotes to classes, from social gatherings to civic opportunities, I strive to keep a smile firmly planted on my face.  90% of the time, it’s genuine.  And in the other 10%, the act of smiling seems to have the affirming effect of putting me in a better mood.

Jim Adams believed that a positive outlook was an act of gratitude.  And the man was unbelievably grateful.  If your clients, friends, and family perceive that you are grateful for the time you share, it’s definitely a point in your favor.

Father’s Day 2018

And so, as Dad’s special day draws to a close, stay busy.  Stay grateful.  Dad’s watching.