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statue of father holding son

Introduction

My dad was one of the most influential people in my life. As a banker in Canada, he instilled in me the value of hard work, integrity, and an unwavering commitment to family. From the time I was a young child, he made it his mission to impart the wisdom he had gained over the course of his life, hoping that I would carry these lessons with me as I navigated the ups and downs of my own journey.

Even after I moved to South Korea at the age of 23, my dad remained a constant source of support and guidance, approving of my new adventure and always ready with a word of encouragement. In the years since his passing, I have found myself reflecting more and more on the invaluable life lessons he shared with me. It is with a deep sense of gratitude and reverence that I now share some of the most awesome teachings from my dad.

19 Essential Life Lessons My Dad Taught Me

1. Do What You Love, Love What You Do

My dad lived and breathed his work as a banker for several decades. He always emphasized the importance of finding a career that truly ignites your passion, reminding me that if I wasn’t going to give it my all, then I was simply wasting my time.

2. Respect Yourself and Others

One of my dad’s favorite sayings was, “It really doesn’t matter if you’re digging a ditch or if you’re the CEO of a large corporation – we’re all the same.” He believed that everyone deserved to be treated with dignity, regardless of their social status, race, or background.

This lesson has shaped the way I interact with people from all walks of life. Even when he and I did a few volunteer food drives for the poor in my middle and high school days, I remember him smiling and loved giving to others. 

3. Dream Big and Give It Your All

He was a firm believer in the power of setting ambitious goals and then giving them everything you’ve got. Whenever I felt like giving up on a task or project, he would remind me, “If you aren’t going to do your very best, why are you wasting your time?” This mindset pushed me to reach new heights I never thought possible, but much later in my life. 

4. Maintain a Positive Attitude

Even in the face of adversity, my dad managed to keep a positive outlook on life. I witnessed him overcome numerous obstacles with grace and determination, and his infectious smile inspired me to approach challenges with a similar mindset. He taught me that a positive attitude can make all the difference in how we navigate life’s ups and downs. And boy…did I have those ups and downs!

More Life Lessons

5. Find Balance Between Work and Family

While my dad was deeply committed to his career, he also made sure to prioritize quality time with our family. I have so many fond memories of him telling jokes, laughing infectiously, savoring every moment with us and dancing with my mom in the kitchen to some old Johnny Cash tunes. He demonstrated that it’s possible to be both a dedicated professional and a present, engaged parent.

6. Be True to Yourself

One of the most valuable pieces of advice my dad ever shared with me was to “be true to yourself and be true to your wife.” He lived by this mantra, never compromising his core values or trying to fit into a mold that wasn’t authentic to him. This lesson has been instrumental in helping me stay grounded and true to myself, even in the face of external pressure.

7. Embrace Gratitude

My dad had a deep appreciation for the people and experiences in his life, and he made sure to express his gratitude regularly. Whether it was thanking the nurses at the hospital or celebrating a small victory, his grateful spirit was contagious and taught me to find joy in the simple things. As the youngest of 3 boys, I was always the one that was given everything I needed and wanted and he always told me to be grateful, and I was…

8. Take Calculated Risks

While my dad was cautious in many aspects of his life, he also knew the value of taking calculated risks. He encouraged me to step outside my comfort zone, try new things, and not be afraid of failure. This mindset has served me well, allowing me to grow and evolve in ways I never could have imagined.

He was my biggest supporter when I decided to fly to South Korea to live and work. I built a successful life here as a person and a father. Thanks, Dad!

9. Finish What You Start

My dad had a strong work ethic and showed commitment to completing what he started. I was the opposite when I was young and did not give a hoot about my schoolwork. But he often nudged me in the right direction when things were not going well. 

10. Be Kind and Generous

Wherever my dad went, he left a lasting impression on people with his kindness and generosity. He was well known in the business sector and with his beloved fraternity, the Knights of Columbus. He had an uncanny ability to connect with others, and he was always willing to lend a helping hand or offer a word of encouragement. This spirit of compassion has inspired me to be a more positive force in the lives of those around me.

DAD spelled out with scrabble pieces

11. Appreciate the Little Things

My dad found joy in the simplest of pleasures – a cold beer shared with loved ones, a good laugh, or a dive into the swimming pool. He taught me to savor the everyday moments and not to take the little things for granted.

12. Stay Connected

He was a master at maintaining strong relationships with his family and friends. He regularly checked in with loved ones, shared stories, and made sure to stay involved in their lives. 

13. Embrace Your Roots

My dad was incredibly proud of his French-Canadian heritage and the small town he grew up in. He instilled in me a deep appreciation for my own roots and the experiences that shaped my family’s history. This lesson has helped me develop a stronger sense of identity and belonging especially being in Korea as a foreign father. 

14. Admit Mistakes and Seek Forgiveness

Never be afraid to acknowledge when you have made a misstep or hurt someone unintentionally. 

15. Prioritize Mental Well-being

Although he liked his beer and bologna, he was quite active in the community, and that led to overall well-being for both him and our family. 

16. Cherish Quality Time

Whether it was sharing a meal at dinner time, watching wrestling with me, or simply sitting and chatting, my dad always made the most of our time together. He taught me that the true value in life lies not in material possessions or achievements, but in the memories and connections we get with loved ones.

17. Develop a Lifelong Love of Learning

My dad was a voracious reader and was constantly seeking out new knowledge and experiences. He loved reading Reader’s Digest and had those little magazines strewn all over the house. Along with the local Ottawa, Ontario newspaper, The Ottawa Citizen, Daddio always had something to read and that gave me the feeling to also read. This reading thirst came much later in my life. 

18. Lead with Integrity

In everything he did, my dad embodied the values of honesty, fairness, and ethical decision-making. He taught me that true success is not defined by wealth or status, but by the positive impact we have on the world and the lives of those around us.

19. Embrace Change and Adapt

My dad was always open to new experiences and willing to step out of his comfort zone. He taught me that change is inevitable and that the key is to approach it with flexibility, resilience, and a willingness to learn and grow.

This lesson has been invaluable as I’ve navigated the ebbs and flows of my own life. I had a difficult time adapting to Korea and its foreign language when I first settled here, but as time passed my whole life changed for the better…thanks in part to my good ol’ daddio.

Father and Son smiling with fedora hats on

The Most Important Advice Dad Did Not Teach Me

1. The Importance of Financial Literacy

As a banker, my dad had a deep understanding of personal finance, but he didn’t always share that knowledge with me. I wish he had taken the time to teach me about budgeting, saving, investing, and building wealth – skills that would have been incredibly valuable as I entered adulthood.

From stocks to ETFs or buying a small condo when I had the money…these things and life lessons could have been spoken about decades ago. 

2. The Art of Negotiation

My dad was a skilled negotiator in his professional life, but he didn’t often apply those skills in personal situations. I wish he had shared his strategies for effectively communicating, compromising, and standing up for what I deserve. 

3. The Importance of Self-Care

It’s one of the most important life lessons for all dads out there! Take care of yourselves. I wish he valued self-care more as he might still be alive with us today. I took this step by myself and joined a gym when I was 17. But as for him, he rarely saw the doctor and his disease could have been prevented if he did regular checkups. Love you Daddio…

4. The Value of Networking

My dad was well-connected in his industry, but he didn’t always encourage me to build my own professional network. I wish he had emphasized the significance of building relationships and leveraging them to create new opportunities.

5. The Art of Public Speaking

My awesome father was a confident and articulate communicator, but he didn’t share his strategies for effective public speaking. I wish he had coached me on techniques for overcoming stage fright, engaging an audience, and delivering impactful presentations. I remember his own voice as he led the scripture reading at the local church every Sunday. 

6. The Significance of Goal-Setting

He was driven and ambitious, but he didn’t always help me develop a structured approach to setting and achieving goals. I wish he had taught me how to create SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound) goals and track my progress. I got all this way later in life during my management days here in Korea.

7. The Power of Positive Self-Talk

Although he was a self-assured person, he didn’t always share his strategies for maintaining a positive mindset. I wish he had taught me the importance of affirmations, visualization, and reframing negative thoughts. I guess those ways of ‘mindset’ and self-talk were not a big thing back in the 80s compared to now.

But sitting with him in the passenger seat of his old Oldsmobile, it would have been nice to have chatted about these topics with him at whatever age. 

8. The Art of Conflict Resolution

My father was generally adept at resolving conflicts, but he didn’t always share his strategies with me. I wish he had taught me effective communication techniques, active listening skills, and the art of compromise. As mentioned above, he was a Libra, and Libras hate conflict and stay away from it at all costs.

So now, as a father myself, I try to find a healthy balance with conflict resolution with all my family members. 

9. The Importance of Personal Branding

As a successful banker, my dad had a strong personal brand, but he didn’t emphasize its significance to me. I wish he had taught me the importance of cultivating a professional image, leveraging connections, and showcasing my unique strengths and talents. Wow, and did he have connections… I wish that would have rubbed off on me just a little…

10. The Power of Storytelling

My dad was a captivating storyteller, but he didn’t always emphasize the importance of this skill. Yes, sure I now write articles in my spare time and have a few books on Amazon, but this did not come from him…it was all from me. 

11. The Significance of Failure

My dad was generally successful, but he didn’t always emphasize the importance of learning from failure. I wish he had taught me that mistakes are inevitable and that they can be valuable opportunities for growth and improvement. 

Last Thoughts

My dad was a remarkable man who taught me important life lessons. From emphasizing the importance of pursuing one’s passions and treating others with respect to embracing a positive attitude and finding a balance between work and family, his teachings have shaped the way I navigate the ups and downs of life. He often said the right thing at the right time. He taught me the value of being true to oneself, embracing gratitude, taking calculated risks, and finishing what I started.

His kindness, generosity, and appreciation for the little things have inspired me to be a positive force in the lives of others. He showed me the importance of staying connected with loved ones, embracing my roots, admitting mistakes, and prioritizing mental well-being. I am forever grateful for the wisdom and guidance he shared, and I strive to carry his teachings with me as I continue on my own journey.

With all the unique life experiences and life lessons that I’ve accumulated in the past several years plus being a first time Dad myself, I must say that my father’s love and the greatest memories that I kept in my heart are all being passed down to my lovely son.  I want to make sure that I try to cover as many bases with my son and be a significant influence in his life.  

My son and I shared and still share many good times together as a great team.  He brings out my inner child and we both love spending time together. So, with the valuable advice I give my son and the love that he brings me, I hope that in his later years, he will talk about all the valuable life lessons I gave him. 

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