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Dear Dad: What You Taught Me About Being Successful

Erik Thoughts of a Mastermind 14 Comments


Dear Dad,

On this Father’s Day, I’m writing to thank you for being there for me throughout my life.

You’ve supported me when times have been tough, celebrated my successes and growth, and taught me some invaluable lessons about success, work, and life.

Here are some of the things I’ll always remember in my life:

Your Work Ethic

Each and every day, there’s work to be done.

Grinding through life and making things happen is never an accident – it’s a conscious effort that becomes routine overt time.

Growing up, whether it was for your small business, your day job, or work around the house, it was never “I’m not feeling like work today” or “it’s Sunday, it’s my day off”.

Each and every day is a concerted effort to keep things rolling, in line and in your control.

Something I’ve embraced in my life is a quiet and unstoppable energy – which I believe everyone can tap into.

You showed me the way and inspired me with your work ethic, something I will never forget.

It’s possible to balance family, fun, and business

Your true resume is pages and pages long: corporate executive, small business owner, coach, dad, son, teammate, friend, and I’m sure I’m missing some titles as well.

Work and being productive always was number one, because that’s what put bacon on the table and a roof over our head.

BUT! I can’t remember you ever missing a practice, game, graduation, birthday party, or anything because of it.

You always prioritized family and fun and made sure to be there for us kids.

Being my coach in baseball and basketball, taking me to golf with you, and showing me the ropes in my first job all showed me first hand that being present in the moment, but also remembering the priorities of life is possible.

At the end of the day, FAMILY is all a person has to fall back on and because of that, it’s so important to be involved and active.

I can’t wait to coach my kids, influence them to become the best they can be, and apply many of the things you helped me do in my life.

Your ability to balance family, fun and business is something I will never forget. It inspires me to do the same in my life with my hustles, work, and desire for fun with family and friends.

“Keep your head down, and your eyes up”

Torrey Pines golf courseA few years ago, we were in the car talking about career progression.

Becoming a corporate executive in the 90s at a regional company, you know a thing or two about success in a person’s career.

You told me, if you want to progress in your job, “Keep you head down and your eyes up. Focus on your day to day tasks, but make sure to keep knowledgeable of the team, department, and organization goals to see if you can play a part in bringing those to fruition.”

Both of these parts are key: if I don’t have my head down, I won’t get my work done; this isn’t good for performance. If I don’t keep my eyes up, I won’t be able to spot an opportunity to grow and influence.

Both are key, and this is something I won’t forget.

Pay attention to the details

An accountant by trade, you know how to dig in to the details and made sure to instill this same habit and skill into me.

It’s interesting. Growing up, I didn’t consciously think about these things, butthe habits and mindset formed over time and came out in adulthood.

I remember, around age 13, we would go to the batting cage to work on my hitting for the upcoming baseball season.

“Knob to the ball, you want to extend your arms in such a way where the knob is brought to the ball and boom!”

I struggled at the time because I struggled to focus on the details, but over time, it’s become one of my best skills.

You told me to pay attention to the details, and I won’t ever forget it.

Keeping composure might be the most important skill of all

Growing up, I had emotional issues when it came to frustration towards myself.

Displaying my emotions and frustrations on the pitching mound had its effects on the rest of the team and the opponents.

“We are in the pitcher’s head, we got him!”

Ugh, those days were not good.

When I got wrapped up in my emotions, I was never successful.

Keeping cool and calm is incredibly important in all areas of life: business, sports, communication, and fun.

By keeping composure, rational and critical thinking can occur to drive results and bring success. It’s something many people can work on, but you instilled in me at a young age.

Keeping my composure is one of the skills you taught me was important and after working on it for years, I’ve become better at it and used it to my advantage in my work and play.

Thank you for showing me how to be successful

I am thankful for all of the time you’ve taken over the years to influence and help me become who I am today.

What I’ve written here is what I will always remember about success in all areas of life, and what I plan and hope to pass down to my kids.

Thank you again for inspiring me to become better, for being the rock of our family, and showing me first hand what success looks like.

Happy Father’s Day!



Readers: what have your parents taught you that stuck with you into adulthood? What habits and sayings are you looking to have your kids grow up to?



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Comments 14

  1. Awesome letter to your dad!

    As boys, I feel that our relationship with our fathers have the greatest impact on how we grow up in becoming men. Having a father who is there, and continuously pushes/teaches you to be better day in and day out, is such a benefit that not every boy gets to have. I am thankful for my father in all the ways that you towards yours!

    Hopefully you guys can get out on the golf course or something this weekend!

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      Thanks Sean!

      It’s really true – like you said, having a father figure to show us the ropes is very key to becoming a man. It inspires me to go and be one in the future for my sons/daughters when the time comes 🙂

  2. Great post Erik! Comes off very heart felt… Fathers are so important for helping shape us boys into men. You are very lucky to have such a great role model in your life that taught you the ropes of Life.

    “Keep your head down, and your eyes up”… Words to live by in corporate America.

    My father has been the biggest influence in my life by far! I wouldn’t be where i am today without him.

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  3. You have a great dad! My dad taught me to be nice. It doesn’t sound like much but it made me very successful because I was taught by example to be incapable of disliking anyone or treating anyone with disrespect. I never heard a racial or ethnic slur or joke from him. I never heard him gossip or criticize a boss or an acquaintance. He never criticized my mom or argued with her, at least in my presence. He treated everyone the same from a janitor to the CEO of Walmart. He is no longer living but that one quality he passed on, finding something to appreciate in everyone and treating everyone with respect, that was a big thing.

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      It’s so true – being nice is SO simple but yet, overlooked.

      Something that happened to me the other week… I was walking down a crowded sidewalk and a guy, I kid you not, walking backwards talking on his cell phone… and we bumped shoulders and a few seconds later, I hear, “What where the F you are going!”

      Honestly, who bumped into who here???

      I love those thoughts and I look to apply them as well – everyone is equal!

      Thanks for stopping by Steve 🙂


  4. “You always prioritized family and fun and made sure to be there for us kids.”

    Nice tribute to your father, Erik! Like your father, my dad was a very hard-working individual who made sure he attended every one of my basketball games or track meets. Whenever I have children of my own, I hope to be there for them, like my father was for me!

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  5. This post is a wonderful gift to your dad, who obviously gave many gifts to you! 🙂 Unfortunately, most of what my father taught me was by example, and it wasn’t a good one. But my mother taught me many great lessons about life, love, money, and hard work. I hope I’ve passed on these lessons to my children as well.

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      Thank you Gary! There is a lot of power in communication through actions and body language – which seems to have been a struggle in your case. Some of the things listed above weren’t said but non-verbally communicated 🙂

      Sounds like your mom was a winner!

      Hope you have a Happy Father’s Day!!

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  6. This was really great to read, Erik! It sounds like you are a very lucky guy to have the dad you do. I hope one day, when my kids are grown, they write something similar about me and the influence I have had on their lives. What more could a dad ask for?! Happy Father’s Day to your dad.

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