As Father’s Day approaches, I can’t help but think of where we would be without the wisdom, support, and inspiration from our fathers. More than anyone other influence in our lives, at an early age dads shape the leadership DNA within us that enables us to mentor and grow our own families, businesses and communities.  

It’s really not until I became a dad myself, that I fully gained perspective on the sacrifices, life lessons, and the little things Dads do to mold and shape the lives of others around them.  Check out this video and I think you will see what I mean:

So on a more serious note, I thought I would reflect back on my own life growing up and share just 5 of the many life lessons that my Dad has passed on and how it has shaped me into the Dad and leader I am today:

Being a dad means LEADING: When you wake up every day someone is following you (well, not in a creepy kind of way). In every situation you have a chance to LEAD and shape someone’s path for the better.  “Being a dad and a leader is a gift and an honor, don’t take that responsible lightly” my dad would say.  At times as a dad, an entrepreneur, or even a boss, people will follow you by what you do and not by what you say. Make your actions and your word count.

Being a dad means LEARNING: My dad grew up knowing that education was a key to his success. As a youngster he would often take 5 buses and street cars to private school every day. He also worked multiple jobs to help pay for his schooling because he valued education so highly. Later he would carry his education through Washington University and to St Louis University and graduate at the top of his class. The pursuit of his dream to run his own business and to give back to the very community that he grew up in was a driving factor in his life. My Dad is now 80 and I am blown away at how well his mind works. His value of learning has been passed down to me and now to my kids.

I work with my kids and also our team here at Hatchbuck every day to instill the value that Leaders are Learners, and stress the importance of fueling the mind. That’s exactly why we created the Hatchbuck Hub, a learning center to help small businesses expand their knowledgebase and grow.

Being a dad means FAILING: I remember coming home from school one day as a middle-schooler and I had a C on my report card in science. My dad asked me: “Was that your best shot?” That’s all he had to say. In class I was so afraid of messing something up that I let the other classmates take the lead on the class projects. He knew my potential and he knew that my fear had crept in and had prevented me from doing my best. I learned another life lesson that day that has had immeasurable impact on way I lead my family and company:  “It’s ok to miss shots in life, it’s not ok NOT to take them.”

Do you remember what it was like to be a dad for the first time? Did you have all of the answers? Of course you didn’t. At least I didn’t, but that didn’t stop me from taking a shot at being the best dad that I could be. What if we had that same mindset in our businesses? What shots are we not taking that 20 years from now we would look back and regret?   

Jh family picBeing a dad means SERVING: Life is not about you. It’s simple, but it is a game changing principal. For most of my dad’s life he worked long hours running his business and my mom was an anchor for him.  Always there to help him, support him, and at times get him through the toughest of days. After all, the balancing act of an entrepreneur running a business and a family is tough one, and family support is crucial. However, along the journey my mom’s health went south and my dad shifted into servant leadership mode. At the end of his career his days consisted of running the business and taking care of my mother and he was the epitome of a role model. His example of putting her first strengthened our family and grew their marriage unlike anything anyone had seen before.

A week after my daughter was born my mother passed away and my dad, as I, was left with a bag full of bittersweet emotions. Amazingly he wakes up every day asking one simple question. Who can I serve today in some little way? I have seen firsthand his life transform before my eyes by his willingness to serve instead of being served and as a son I am so grateful he passed on the lesson of servant leadership.

Being a dad means LEGACY: So this last year or so has been interesting. It brought about the birth of my new baby girl, what a joy and a blessing she has been. The passing of my beloved mother- a week to the day of the birth of my daughter, and a new journey with Hatchbuck (awesomesauce). It is a vivid reminder that our days are short, so make every one of them count. I have learned so much from my dad over the years but none as important as this: When you look back on your life all you have is your legacy – How you led, who you loved, and how you served others.

Grandkid number 16 is on the way for my dad, he is super excited to continue pouring in his love and leadership gifts and I am stoked to have my son meet the man who made me a better man, dad, and purpose driven leader.

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there and to you, Dad: Thank you and I love you….

So how has your dad made an impact on your life or in your small business? Share your story!