When I was a just four-years-old I went through my first goal setting program. The first goal that I set while going through that program is one that I am still working on today. My goal was to become just like my dad, Bill Moyer.
Over the years, I have worked on this goal and I have had some success. In a lot of ways I have become just like my dad. One of the things I have realized is that even if I would not have set that goal 25 years ago, in many ways I would still have become just like him. The reason for this is what has become my favorite aspect of leadership and of course you can guess who I learned it from. In fact, it is the most important lesson I have learned from my dad.
People become like their leader. This means that as leaders we must understand that our responsibility is to influence (lead) positively not just by what we say, but more importantly with what we do. Lead by example. Even though I learned this from my dad, I have come to realize it on my own.
That is one lesson I learned and here are four other ones I learn from my dad and one I wish I wouldn’t have.
- Love my wife. I have never questioned my parents love for each other. I learned this at a young age and have continued to witness their great love throughout my life. From my dad, I learned how to properly love my wife. I learned how to be a good husband. It is pretty simple really. I must make my wife a priority. Treat her how she wants to be treated. Be willing to die for her. I learned this from my dad, but also from this great book called The Bible. I highly recommend it.
- It is possible to be present as a leader even if you are not physically there. Recently I was going through my parent’s garage and I found at least 50 notes to me from my dad. When I was a kid, my dad traveled a lot for work. Every time he would go away, he would leave me a note under my pillow. It was always so much fun reading those notes before I went to bed. It was like he was still there with me even though he was out of town. The notes were simple, but they were just what I needed. They always encouraged me.And they ended with “I love you” and “I am proud of you,” which is something not enough fathers say to their kids. He found a way to be present even when he was gone. It wasn’t about how much time he spent with me. It was about always showing me how much he cared for me. I have tried to do this with my wife and also with others around me. I may not always be around, but I can always show that I care.
- Work was always a priority, but it was never his number one priority.One of the most interesting thoughts that came to me in finding all of those old notes was realizing the amount of time my dad traveled for work. Anyone that has spoken in 36 countries and 49 states obviously would have been gone a lot, but I never really realized he was gone that much. Seeing all the notes makes it obvious that he was, but even with that he never missed any major event in my life. This is something I will be sure to remember when I start a family. It is possible to be successful and to be present as a father. It’s just about prioritizing and planning and making sure that you say yes to the right people.
- I learned about the importance of having heroes. I am huge sports fan and I have always looked up to athletes. I also have at times looked up to heroes that aren’t real (I finally admit it) like Rocky Balboa. But my dad is the most important hero I have ever had. That’s why I set that goal as a kid. Having heroes is so important.
Here is one thing I now wish I wouldn’t have learned from my dad:
- Trying to fix everything. I have a tendency to always believe I can fix things or that I have to fix things for people. My dad has always been this way as well. He was the youth minister at our church and I can remember how many young people would come to him with issues. He was a great listener most of the time, but he really wanted to help, to fix the situation. He did this with my mom and with my brothers and sister as well and he still does it. I think sometimes it has been seen as a negative. Maybe that everything had to be done his way, when really he just cared so much and wanted to help so much. He didn’t care how it was fixed, he just wanted to fix it.
I am this way as well. My wife will certainly agree. My coach hat is always on and I really struggle taking it off. I want people to be happy. I want to make things better. I think at times this has a negative effect on my relationships. Not everything and everyone needs or wants to be fixed. I think my dad and I are learning this together. Watching him struggle has helped me work through this problem.
Although it is something I wish I wouldn’t have learned from my dad, I know what his intentions have always been and I know what mine are now. We just want to help people become the best versions of themselves. We want people to be happy. Sometimes we just have to listen and show compassion. We just have to let go and let God take over.
Our parents should be the most important leaders in our lives. My parents understood that and really stepped up. My dad understood his responsibilities as a leader and even as he climbed the ladder in the business world, he always was present as a father, even when he was not actually around. I am so thankful for him and his leadership.
He was and still is not only my hero, but my spiritual role model. This has been so key in my development as a leader and as a servant of God.
I have learned so much from my dad and yes there are things like mentioned I wish I hadn’t learned. But the one thing I still know for sure is that the goal that I set when I was just four-years-old to be just like my dad is still important to me.
I want to lead like him, love like him, and serve like him. I pray that someday my children can say that about me.