Wisdom//

Great Pieces of Advice We’ve Gotten From the Fathers In Our Lives

We’re reflecting on the nuggets of wisdom from our dads that have helped us become who we are today.

Chokniti Khongchum/ Shutterstock
Chokniti Khongchum/ Shutterstock

We’re reflecting on the meaningful nuggets of wisdom we’ve learned from our dads and father figures in our lives. Especially after the challenging year we’ve had, we’re grateful for their sage advice that’s helped us stay resilient and optimistic. 

We asked our Thrive community to share with us one piece of advice from their dads that has stuck with them and helped shape them into who they are today. Which of these resonates with you?

Find the opportunity in every setback

“I was a promising athlete as a teenager, with the potential to play basketball at the collegiate level. This dream all came to an end when I was diagnosed with a heart condition. My father was supportive through two heart procedures, and he would always remind me of the opportunity within every life experience and not label them as good or bad. This piece of advice has transformed how I perceive the world and my ability to navigate life with peace, joy, and contentment. When struggling with challenging circumstances, I now remind myself to find the opportunity in the experience.”

—James Petrossi, human development coach, Austin, TX

Don’t leave for tomorrow what you can do today

“The best fatherly advice I have gotten is, ‘Don’t leave for tomorrow what you can do today.’ It came from my grandpa who only completed primary school but worked hard until age 75. He put three kids through college, gave them their first house loans, and helped all his seven grandkids both financially and morally. He taught us the power of a united family.”

—Steliana Economu, leadership coach, TX

Slow down to go faster 

“The best piece of advice that I have ever received from my father is if you want to go a bit faster, slow down. This makes absolute sense in a world where we are rushing about and at times being reactive rather than responsive.” 

—Liggy Webb, presenter and author, UK

Prioritize your connections with others

The best advice I’ve gotten from a father figure is to strengthen my interpersonal skills. Ask follow-up questions, seek sweet spots of mutual interest in conversations, and be open to seeing different sides of a situation. Such experiences draw us closer and more aware of our complementary talents we can provide each other and be motivated to do so. Get specific sooner with the specific detail, example or story that can prove a general conclusion yet not the reverse. And most importantly, always seek to bring out others’ better side so they naturally see yours.”

—Kare Anderson, speaker and author, Sausalito, CA

Treat everyone you meet equally

“My family lost my father to cancer when I was fourteen. His life lessons have become my golden rules, and they have hugely impacted both my life and career. They are simple nuggets of wisdom yet pack a powerful punch. One that stands out is to treat everyone the same, no matter their role, title, gender, ethnicity, religious or political beliefs. We all put our pants (and skirts) on the same way: one leg at a time.”

—Megan McCann, IT staffing and services, Chicago, IL

Be trusting

“A father figure in my life told me to trust people until they show you otherwise. This piece of wisdom continues to help me both professionally and personally. Actions of trust are often more profound than words.”

—Kristin Meekhof, author and wellness expert, Royal Oak, MI

Don’t give up on your first choice

“I graduated college and was rejected from all five Master’s programs I applied to. I felt demoralized and was ready to settle with a program in a different field than the one I loved. My dad sat me down and said, ‘Pick the one program you really want and write to the head of the department, asking him for an interview to explain why they should take you.’ I initially didn’t listen, but after gently suggesting it multiple times, I wrote the letter. Within five days of sending it, the secretary of the department called me to set up an interview. My dad drove me to the interview, three hours away, and waited for me in the car. One week later, I got a letter from the director, dated the day of my interview, welcoming me into the doctoral program. That day, my dad’s advice laid the foundation for my entire career. “

—Robin Buckley, Ph.D., executive and couples coach, Rye, NH

Lead with gratitude 

“My father left an indelible mark on my life. He taught me so many things by living the very values he upheld. One main value he taught me was that of living with gratitude. He was always grateful for the simple life we lived. He strongly believed in the law of karma. He taught us to do good to others and it will come back to you, and vice versa. He was always grateful to the people who had helped him and our family. He also advised us never to forget those who help us in our lives.”

—Sumathi K R Krishnan Kutty, communication skills trainer and coach, Malaysia

Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself

“My dad, Frederick Dunlap Maull, was a child of the Great Depression with very little formal education. He delivered heavy appliances and furniture for a major retailer for 37 years before retiring. His daily contact with the people receiving the merchandise he brought them made him totally unafraid to speak with perfect strangers.  Another person’s position in life did not intimidate him. I’d seen him walk up to senators, mayors, or business executives, and introduce himself. He would say to my brother and me, ‘Don’t be afraid to speak to anyone.’ This advice has served us both well.”

—George Marriner Maull, artistic director, The Discovery Orchestra, Summit, NJ

Whatever you do, give it your all.

“When I got my first job, my dad gave me one piece of advice and it has stuck with me ever since. He said, ‘Whatever you do in life, be the best at it.’ He told me that it doesn’t matter what title you hold, what position you have at a company. What matters is that you give it your all, whatever job you have. Throughout my career, I have always used that advice and it allowed me to move up the corporate ladder.” 

—Camille Sacco, meditation instructor and multi-site branch manager, Winter Park, FL

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