Happy Father’s Day, Pops

I’m a fan of evaluating people by how far they’ve traveled in addition to what they’ve accomplished. Two people may start at the same time and end up accomplishing the same thing, but one may have traveled twice as far because his starting position was much farther back. For example, if you’re evaluating two runners who finished a race in 10 minutes, you surmise they’re equally talented. Now consider that one runner’s starting position was twice as far back: he ran 2 miles while the other ran 1 mile. They both finished in an amazing time, but one runner outworked the other by traveling twice as far in the same amount of time.

My dad is the runner who traveled twice as far. He was born into a great but extremely poor family, in a place with limited economic opportunities, in a less-than-equitable period in America’s history. Through thirty-plus years of hard and consistent effort, he accomplished more than many of his peers, elevated his family’s economic well-being, and gave his children access to opportunities he couldn’t even imagine. All without a college degree.

From him I learned the following:

  • The improbable is possible if you consistently work hard.
  • You can win the game of life even if you’re dealt a bad hand. Focus on playing the hand you’ve been dealt as best you can—don’t dwell on your hand being bad.
  • Don’t let yourself be defined by your starting position in life. You’re in control of your destiny.
  • You can’t do what everyone else is doing if your situation is different than theirs. Make decisions and act based on your situation, not what others are doing.

Happy Father’s Day, Pops! Thanks for being a great example and putting in the effort to win even though you had to travel twice as far as everyone else.