Several years ago my sister and I realized that it was time for our dad to move closer to one of us. Fortunately, we found a great facility only 20 minutes away from my family. For the first time since I was in college, he was close enough to join us for lunch after church, spend Sunday afternoons with 9 of his grandchildren, attend their performances and concerts, and enjoy a time of rest after a lifetime of activity.
My father wasn’t used to sitting still. Having served in the Navy thru WWII and the Korean War, the stories he told from his years of travel and adventure could keep you spellbound. But as so often happens, as he aged his body no longer kept up with his mind. First his hearing went, and then his eye sight, but that didn’t stop him from carrying on (LOUD) conversations with his 9 year old grandson, or sitting as close to the TV as possible in order to watch The Avengers (with Patrick Mcnee and Diana Rigg).
He might not have been a young man, but Dad didn’t let age and infirmities make him old. He was always looking for ways to keep his mind challenged, a lesson I have taken from him as I continually try to grow and learn – as an individual, a father, and a CEO.
For the last few weeks, I’ve had to take off my CEO hat – temporarily – in order to play the role of son and decision maker after my elderly father fell in his apartment and broke his hip. With choices to make that would affect him for the rest of his life, however long that might be, things like writing LinkedIn posts and focusing on the growth of my company took a backseat. In fact, when someone asked me about something they were waiting on me for, I told them, “It feels like my brain has flatlined.”
Last month I buried my 96-year old father, grateful for the time that I had with him and the opportunity for my children to get to know him. I travel a lot for work, but having my dad close by meant that on the weekends when I was home, I still had the chance to see him and learn from him, to see how he continued to lead and grow. He set an example that I want to follow as I raise my children and as I lead my company.
Never sit still. Never stop learning. Never give up. Sometimes the most important “continuing education” you can receive as a CEO actually comes from those closest to you.
Published Oct 04, 2017