Several weeks ago, I used this column to share lessons I learned from my parents in recognition of Mother's Day and Father's Day. My intention was to honor mothers and fathers everywhere for the wisdom they impart to their children.
The column apparently struck a chord, because I had a record response from readers about similar advice they received from their parents. And with Father's Day fresh on my mind, I can't think of a better time to pass some of it on to you.
One person said her father taught her the difference between needs and wants. There are items that we need in order to live and there are items that we want, but can live without.
Another writer mentioned character. He said it wasn't something his parents taught him, but rather showed him in the way they lived their lives. In other words, want a good kid? Be a good adult.
One reader even sent a link to a video that was made as a tribute to his own father as well as a legacy for his sons that explained his philosophy of life. It was so inspirational, as well as an enduring gift that many of us can imitate.
And on and on the responses went. How gratifying that so many chose to share their own experiences of the tremendous wisdom gleaned from their parents. Here are some of the dozens that I received.
• All choices have consequences. Stop and think about what you are doing and what might result. And then accept responsibility for your actions, even if it hurts.
• Appreciate what you have. It's more important to want what you have than to have everything you want.
• Trust your instincts, but always do your homework. The time it takes to do a little, or a lot, of research to confirm your hunches is time well-spent.
• Almost doesn't count. Don't settle for almost right, almost finished or almost good enough.
• Hard work means no shortcuts. Work efficiently, but do the job right. Cutting corners doesn't cut it.
• Always have a contingency plan. Life is full of surprises. Sometimes you have to change your plan or your strategy to deal with those events. I call this making midcourse corrections.
• Embrace life's choices head-on. It's your life, so live it to the fullest. You never want to look back and regret the "what ifs?"
• Values matter. When you sacrifice your values, you sacrifice your reputation.
• You are only as good as your word. If people can't trust you to tell the truth, then nothing else matters. Say what you mean and mean what you say.
• Cream doesn't rise to the top; it works its way up. Paying your dues is not a punishment, it's called getting experience.
• Choose family over money. No amount of money or success can take the place of spending time with your family or those closest to you.
• Forgive and forget. Carrying a grudge is a heavy burden. Wouldn't you rather rise above than sink down to the offender's level?
• Hope springs eternal. When you give up hope, you give up.
I am grateful that I can still hear my father's advice when I need to make a tough decision. I learned not only from his words but also from his example.
My good friend Lou Holtz said the best advice he ever received about marriage and raising a family is that the most important thing you can do as a father is to show your children that you love their mother.
And here's what Martha Stewart wrote about her own dad, in a post on the LinkedIn networking site: "The best advice I've ever received was from my father when I was 12 years old … He told me that with my personal characteristics, I could, if I set my mind to it, do anything I chose. This advice instilled in me a great sense of confidence, and despite the fact that sometimes I was a little nervous, I stepped out and did what I wanted to do when I wanted to do it. I think it really often is up to the parents to help build confidence in their children. It is a very necessary part of growing up."
Mackay's Moral: Parents teach lessons, even when they think no one is watching.
Harvey Mackay is a Minneapolis businessman. Contact him at 612-378-6202 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.