How Watching my Dad made me a better Business Woman
Spending time with my dad as a kid helped shape who I am today.
My dad was super handy and inventive and well, he had a tool for everything. Admittedly, I didn't always like watching him "tinker" (his word) because I preferred to do rather than to observe. It was a lesson in patience for me.
My dad chain-smoked and I found it annoying. While rings of smoke raised up through the air and because his hands were always steady and busy, he'd twitch the cigarette with his mouth to flick the ash into the ashtray strategically placed below. He'd inhale through his mouth and exhale through his nose. Yes, I remember those details and I can still I hear his breath in my mind. At times I still smell his freshly lit cigarette, too, a scent I rather enjoy.
His projects were varied from repairs, to fabricating, to fixing something a friend dropped off to him. I was pleased with the variations as they held my interest...always something new. I liked it when he would ask me to get a certain tool from across the room for him. I felt included. After I watched him a bit I would challenge myself to predict the next tool or item he'd need from his organized, okay, overly-organized, work bench.
I watched him use the router table and different bits to carve details into handmade picture frames for my oil paintings. This was by far the most fascinating and meaningful of projects. I enjoyed trying to visualize what patterns would result from the different bits as he let me choose one from the box. Having that choice made me feel like it was our project although he did most of the work. I was most happy and proud to sweep the floor of sawdust and even some ashes after words.
At times now when I work I catch myself thinking about him. I recognize the skills and mindsets that I have and use regularly stem from the time I spent with him. My job tasks are diverse, different from one minute to the next just as it was with him in his shop. I am convinced this is one thing that holds my interest in what I do for a living.
My time with my dad shaped my foresight; honed my ability to visualize things 3-dimensionally; and fueled my yearning for creativity. It enables me to organize, prepare and facilitate the work of my employees, and to troubleshoot, repair and maintain equipment. too, just to name a few. Because of him I am resourceful and I know anything is possible if I put my mind to it.
Yes, I am a baker by trade and an environmental chemist of the past. Now I am an entrepreneur. I truly believe that's a catch-all phrase for someone who chooses to attempt to balance leaps of faith with dreams and manifestation. All those countless hours of quiet observation with my dad, and at times my immature misperception of ill-spent time, mean so much more to me at this phase in my life. I have come to learn that he and I spoke on a far deeper level than words could ever say. In that silence my dad was not only passing down his skills and knowledge. He was sharing his gifts with me, the gifts of a visionary, the traits of an idealist and realist all wrapped up in one. These are the treasured traits of an entrepreneur.
Did I mention my dad was deemed permanently disabled? That is, according to the definition set forth by...well...some entity. I scoff at that. It was only an obstacle that shifted his path and set him straight in the direction far more worthy of the label and misconceived limitations that go with it.
Looking back I am grateful for all that tinkering time with my dad. He inspired, influenced and shaped me into who I am presently. I recognize the values he instilled in me as it became my time "to do" rather than to observe. I am grateful for all those nuggets of wisdom and I recognize that my dad empowered me to be a well-rounded and successful businesswoman, mother and person. Recently my son commented to me, "my mom, the visionary" when we completed a project we had worked on together. I smiled. Thanks dad. Time well spent leads to a life well lived indeed.
Cindy Lakes, Owner...and Entrepreneur