Posted by: Ed Deiss | June 17, 2016

Some Lessons from Dad…

dad and ed in malaysia1He does not wear cuff links anymore. Does anyone? Nor does he wear that Tuxedo t-shirt so he would look dressed up anyway. Our adventures together defined much of who each of us are, and certainly would not have it any other way. He is my father after all, however he is truly a Dad.  My son is named after him.  In fact, this blog was a Father’s Day gift to share with others.

A coconut husk? Allow me to explain. My Dad and I are scuba divers, and were dive buddies often in the South China Sea. Grew up surrounded by the ocean; might as well explore it. During many of those dives we would swim ashore to an island, take off our gear, get out our dive knives out of the sheath and use them to get through those tough husks. That is one of the ways we spent time together, and certainly ate our share. Learned so much from my Dad and the symbolism, namely getting to the heart of matters and having meaningful times is akin to getting to the heart of all those coconuts with our dive knives. It takes awhile to get through the tough husk, but once you do it is certainly worth it.

For this Father’s Day, thought it would be good to open a couple more coconut husks about my Dad and share them with you.

“Confidence is contagious. So is lack of confidence” – Vince Lombardi

The importance of confidence and building it – My Dad is an aeronautical engineer by training and loves thrills, wanted to be a pilot and fly F-4s off aircraft carriers. To him, it is rocket science. His training involved doing barrel rolls in jet fighters. There was a something that got in the way though, his height. He grew to 6’4″ and could not fit in the cockpit, certainly did not deter his love of adventure. Encouraged the same in me and knew that building confidence was essential. I started diving when I was 13, and quickly became comfortable underwater. It did not matter whether night dives, going into wrecks, going into caves, being around creatures as large as I am, or staring up at the surface while standing up 160 feet below. Never would have even attempted it had my Dad not encouraged me to build it.

My Dad modeled a quiet confidence, never ending sense of adventure, unflappable under pressure, and willingness to take risks. I guess my kids know why I always want to ride roller coasters.

“Never bend your head. Hold it high. Look the world straight in the eye.” – Helen Keller

The importance of standing up for what is right – I call it the story of The Smashing Light Bulbs. In Singapore there are typically two kinds of light bulb bases, 2 pin and twist. He bought the wrong ones and had to take them back to the store to get his money back. One problem, the store manager would not give him his money back even though the bulbs were unopened. No problem, he just put the pack of light bulbs on the floor and said since he can’t use them, might as well get some use out of them. As he lifted his foot off the floor to smash and grind them into the carpet with his shoe, the cash register opened. Sweet music to the ears. Now the store manager could sell them to someone who could actually use them and Dad could use his hard-earned money to get the ones he needed.

As small a lesson as that may seem, what was modeled to me was this: have no fear when it comes to standing up for what you know and believe to be right.

“I gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which I must stop and look fear in the face…I’ve lived through this and can take the next thing that comes along.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

The importance of never letting odds define you and making tough decisions – Dad was in a tough spot, and so was I for that matter. The odds for me as a young teen with a full life ahead were not great; was informed that I would need reconstructive surgery otherwise life would be short and difficult. That what Dad was being told by a prominent doctor and surgeon, not what any parent wants to hear or face. There was something did not feel right with Dad, akin to rocks in his gut. He had to weigh all the risks coupled with the unending drumbeat of the odds. Ultimately, he disagreed and stood up to the doctor, and even against one of his parents to make the tough agonizing call to forgo it. It was the right one too, despite what he was being told.

What odds allow for is others to define you; what I have learned though, in reality speaks more to the person doing the defining as they are limiting themselves.

My hope is that by opening and sharing some of these coconut husks, it has encouraged you.

From a son raised by a single Dad and one on the journey at present, Happy Father’s Day Dads!

And you too Dad, Happy Father’s Day! Thank you for being there.

Coconut husks sure beat cuff links, though a tuxedo t-shirt may add some style.

Until next time,

Ed

 

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