My dad passed away over a decade ago at a ripe age of 80. He was a quiet man. A simple man who worked hard and didn’t drink, smoke or gamble. He was neither an ambitious man nor a high-flier, and I guess people in ‘the old days’ would have called him a ‘good provider’. I just call him a great role model.
I dreamt of him last night, which is something that rarely happens and I guess it must be all the advertising around the upcoming Father’s Day weekend celebrations.
As I look back, I just wanted to share 3 things that he taught me which has led me on the path of a Successful Career.
1. People Always Love To Talk About Themselves
Folks who meet me for the first time, whether it is in a business setting, a sales pitch or just a social gathering, are quick to mention what a great conversationalist I am.
Confession-time – It is a trick my dad taught me when I was young. Two tricks, actually.
The first is that people love talking about themselves, so let them
Ask them questions about themselves like “So, what are you working on now?” or “What do you think about …” and let them prattle on by themselves. They love having an audience.
The second is to remember why you have two ears and only one mouth.
This is so you will listen more and speak less.
He taught me that the art of being a conversationalist is to listen, empathise and repeat.
A combination of both elements will make you seem immediately likeable and quickly accepted.
2. It Doesn’t Cost You To Be Nice
My dad worked as a humble bank clerk in Standard Chartered for 30 years. I remember my childhood memories of him as being very smiling and nice all the time, so I asked him why he was polite to everyone.
He said, “Smiling is good exercise for your face and also your heart. It costs you nothing to be courteous and nice, so why stinge on it?”
And this Dad-quote is something I hold close to my heart even today.
When the cleaner aunties clear my plates at the food-court, I will always look them in the eye and give them a heartfelt ‘Xie-Xie’ (Thanks).
At the workplace, I’m always nice (ask my team-mates – they’ll agree)!
And why not? After all, it’s free!
3. Don’t Aim To Be Clever or Smart
My dad wasn’t a highly educated man – his schooling days were disrupted when the Japanese invaded Singapore and he had to fend for himself and his family.
After the war, it was a mad scramble for survival and he never went back to school.
However, he taught himself English and Maths and became very proficient in both. He was a walking dictionary who never allowed his kids to speak a single word of Chinese Dialect in the house because he wanted us to have a Westernised English environment to grow up in.
Despite his untapped genius, he never became too clever or too smart. He told us to strive for Wisdom instead as it was more valuable than book-smarts or knowledge.
“Wisdom comes from experience, and experience comes from making mistakes. It’s not whether you make a mistake, but whether you learn from it and not repeat it.”
Over the years, I must have become very wise, considering the countless mistakes I have made!
My dad was a simple man who enjoyed the simple pleasures. I spend a lot of my time with both my children telling them stories of this eccentric father so that the memories of him will live on.
For all the Fathers out there, what lessons are you leaving with your kids?