4 Things Dad Taught Me About Success

By Robert Kennedy III

I’m a dad and I’m going to toot my own horn and say that I’m a good one.  Why?  Well, I am at least able to cover the basics.  I’m there.  I provide.  I care.  I play.  I discipline when necessary.  Some days I just answer questions ALL DAY LONG.  That last one should give me quite a bit of credit in the ‘good daddy’ department.  So, when Father’s Day rolls around, it’s a welcome event.  It’s the one day that all of the attention is on ME!  Yes,  it’s the one time that I’m allowed to be greedy and call all of the shots with no questions asked.  It’s the day that I get to make my own plans.  Some people who are not fathers may ask, “what’s the big deal? I get to do that now!”

Well, the big deal is that it really is a special thing to be able to contribute to a life and then watch it develop.  Now, that doesn’t only include being a biological father.  That may include mentors, coaches, or someone who is just  willing to say a word or two at the right time.  Those all include some of the important aspects of fatherhood.

My own father is continually special to me because as I grow older, I realize more and more that the things he said that appeared silly and cryptic to me as a teenager, now make quite a bit of sense.  I see now that many of the things he did were sacrifices for me.  I know very clearly after having my own kids that his mindset was a special one, geared towards ensuring that I had a better life.  I didn’t always realize it, but he was constantly seeking ways to instill in me the principles of success.  Here are some ways that he did this.

1.  Dad shared what he knew
Just a few years ago, Dad called me up to say, “Hey, I just read this great book called Secrets of The Millionaire Mind.  I think you should read it.”  He then told me the author and where to get it.  This book was a game changer for me.  Now, the idea wasn’t so much that he gave me the book information.  It was that he had some information that would make him better and he gave it to me without prompting.  I’m going to dare to say that it is impossible to be truly successful if you are intent on keeping information to yourself, especially in an age where information is what drives our world.  Most successful businesses and business people are successful not because of the assets they have, but because of the information they can share.

2.  Dad told me to go get it!
I was a reader, so it seems that whenever my parents truly wanted to get an idea across to me, they gave me a book.  When I was in high school, they gave me a book called The Go Getter by Susan Willoughby.  While I didn’t initially understand what the book was telling me about drive, what Dad was telling me at that point was that I could do anything that I wanted to do if I put my mind to it.  He was telling me that as I transitioned to the next phase of my life, the only limits that I had were the ones that I placed on myself or allowed others to place on me.

3.  Dad taught me to network
I spoke to people when necessary but by nature I was shy. I would rather close my door and read a book than get involved in conversation.  Dad?  He would walk up to people he didn’t know and start talking about what he was doing at church that day or what the Mets did to screw up last night’s game.  I didn’t realize it then, but I now recognize that as the art of networking and relationship.  We don’t succeed on our own and having the ability to relate to people on some level is critical.  I’ve created my own thoughts around the need for networking (which I’ll share in another upcoming post) but I was being taught that fear of relationships is probably the biggest barrier to success.

4.  Dad taught me to be a leader
My dad was (and still is) a minister and so I was used to seeing him up front.  It wasn’t out of the ordinary to see him speaking, singing with a choir, leading the church work bee, directing a song service or something that involved leadership at church.  When he became a college professor, it wasn’t out of the norm to see him at the front of the classroom but also heading up campus activities.  What he told me was that sometimes if you wait for things to happen, they never do.  At other times, you wait for things to happen, and someone else does it.  Then, that person becomes known for that ‘thing’ and receives more opportunities.  Everyone doesn’t HAVE to be a leader.  But, the truth is that if you take that step or you learn to be a leader, then there are more opportunities given and it becomes easier to create opportunities.  Some people are ‘naturally born’ leaders.  Others learn to lead.  I learned and in many ways I am still learning.  But, the lesson is that success needs you to take charge.  Success needs you to…..well…..Create Something New.

I don’t have all the answers yet and I am learning every day.  But, for all that you sacrificed and all that you took the time to show me, here’s to you Dad.  Happy Father’s Day!!