I have had the fortune to have great male role models in my life. None greater than my dad. As we celebrate Father’s Day with a week of parental adoration, I found it fitting to share with you five lessons that my father taught me about life, manhood, and people:

Never Let Stress Consume You

Once my dad had a random conversation with me (which was often). He told me “Son, you see how old I am, and how I still have all my hair and no grays? It’s because I don’t let stress get to me. When people get stressed they get sick, they lose their hair, they age, and they panic. I just take it easy and know that everything will work out in the end. Never get too stressed and let it affect you” I was probably 10 at the time, and had absolutely no clue about the true stresses of life, but when my father spoke with a passion, I took it to heart. I utilize many different outlets to release stress. I analyze situations and place them in their proper context, and work on problem solving instead of panic. If I get too flustered, I’ll take a walk or meditate. Sure, my dad probably exaggerated the effects of stress, but it was enough of a catalyst for me to apply it to my life.  My hair line is still golden so maybe he had a point after all!

Personality and Versatility Are Key For Success

I admired the flawless interaction that my father had with people. He was a socializing god. He could temper the most abrasive individuals and could get along with any one. He lived in an all Latino neighborhood and spoke fluent Spanish. He knew what to say at the right times, and everyone loved him. I admired his charisma, natural charm, and chameleon-like ability to adapt to any situation. You need skills like this in the real world to be successful. I attribute a great chunk of my personality to adopting his style and philosophies. I learned languages, and found myself personality wise (which was actually natural too). A one trick pony will only go so far. Being gregarious isn’t for everyone, but being clear and communicative can benefit anyone!

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Perception Is Everything

Who I knew as my father and who the actual man was weren’t too far off, but he helped to evaluate my perception of him. This was a man who told me that he didn’t drink, had a college degree, a good paying job, and although he had diabetes, he didn’t let this illness conquer him and thrived despite it. I looked at how he lived his life, and he was the closest to perfect in my eyes as any father could be. As I got older, I learned of things in my dad’s past that weren’t as egregious as they were eye opening. He had demons like we all do. He was imperfect. I understood why he presented an ascended version of himself to me. He wanted me to aspire to be better than him. If he was this accomplished, I need to do better. That was a catalyst for the success I constantly chase and seek. He is the reason why I’m so self aware and realize the power of perception. I also know I have to be true to my reality, and not put up a false front but rather always put my best face forward.

Keep Your Family Close

My dad was shut in when it came to family. If you weren’t his immediate family he didn’t keep you close. This was a positive and a huge negative. While he would keep us in the loop of his life, his brothers and other family members were estranged. It was a mutual circumstance, but disturbing nonetheless. I couldn’t tell you today where my uncles live, or even if they are still alive. This is why I always joke that I would be hesitant before talking to any woman with my last name; she MIGHT be family!!! I love my family. I love my inner circle of friends. I could never imagine cutting everyone but a select few out of my life.  They have helped shape me to be the person I am today, and you need good people. I wish he was closer to his family, so I would know my history better. That’s one area of my life that I will be better than him and better for us.

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The Ultimate Measure Of A Man

My frat brother Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had a great quote about manhood:

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

My father epitomized the above quote. He didn’t always succeed. He dealt with various demons in his life, and lost many battles with them. His health was ailing him as he got older, and yet he rarely let you see him sweat. I didn’t even know the full extent to how real his life was until I was 18. He led by example. He told me he never did drugs or drank alcohol. I knew he was a college graduate, but he got his degree when he was older. He supported me, and set the bar for me to exceed. Once I found out about the trials and tribulations he went through in his life, it made me respect him even more. He didn’t want to discuss his mistakes because he didn’t want to seem flawed. Instead, he wanted me to see him as a success and be better. He passed away before I could ever articulate this, but he is even more of a success in my eyes. He overcame odds, and although he struggled, he stood strong till the end. I hope in my life that I can be half the man he was, and make him proud. That was my model for a man. A great man and role model, whom I’m very blessed to have in my life. I know people have different appreciation for Father’s than the do Mother’s. Appreciate your fathers. Especially those that do their best to do right by you. Thank You for these lessons dad. I’ll be sure to pass the message and live the message.

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