As I posted on the Roll Models Facebook page over the weekend, my father recently celebrated his birthday. As I was reading all of the comments people left on Facebook (which he really appreciated by the way), I was quite touched and proud. While he may not have made lots of money or gained a bunch of fame for his almost 40 years of teaching and coaching his students, he is still the richest man I know. The respect and gratitude of the countless individuals whose lives he has touched is far more valuable than public acclaim or big bank accounts, and in today’s society it is far more difficult to come by. My father was able to gain this respect and admiration by living his life by a certain code. As his son, I was in the fortunate position of getting to watch and learn from the way he lived his life, and by applying many of the lessons he taught me I have been able to create a successful, fulfilling life for myself. Today I am going to share one of these powerful life lessons he passed on to me, and how I have gone on to apply it to my own life.
Anyone who spends any amount of time with my father will quickly realize that he does not say much. It is not that he is antisocial or shy. Nor is it that he is uneducated or has nothing to add to the conversation. He just likes to think before he speaks (something a lot of us should do more often). One of the results of being a man of few words is that when he does open his mouth to say something, you listen because you know it has value. Even being the quiet guy he is, there is one phrase that I heard so often from him during my childhood that it became permanently ingrained in my brain. This motto that he lives by, and that I have now adopted and used in my life, is one of the greatest gifts my father has ever given me (which is saying a lot). This simple sentence that has helped me to forge strong relationships, build a successful career, and live a happy life is “Think of others before yourself.”
Think of others before yourself. It is such a simple and obvious idea that you would think that everyone would naturally put it to use, but unfortunately this is not the case. We now live in a “me first” society where most people are “looking out for number one.” This selfish mentality may get you ahead in terms of money and material things, but at the same time you end up losing out on the things that really matter (life is all about balance). Thankfully for me, any time I was being selfish or greedy growing up, my father would hit me with those five words. Think of others before yourself. He instilled in me the importance of putting others needs ahead of my own, having empathy, and helping people. This does not mean that I could not work hard to get what I wanted, but more that I should not hurt or mistreat others as I do so. In fact, by thinking of others first I have found that you can actually achieve more success as the people who you helped during your life return your kindness. While as a normal teenager who thinks that the world revolves around them I definitely got tired of hearing this phrase, as I have matured into a man and used it in my life I have realized the incredible power behind these words.
I could give hundreds, if not thousands, of occasions from my life when I have put this idea in action in a way that changed my life, but probably the best example is with my homecare nurses. When a nurse comes out to your home to take care of you, you are the boss and they are the employee. They are being paid to keep you healthy and make your life easier, and you are not obligated to do much to make them more comfortable. Even though I am not required to make them more comfortable, having been instilled with the notion “think of others before yourself,” I always make a conscious effort to do everything I can to make their job easier. When I orient a new nurse to my care, of course I discuss my daily routine and such, but what I am most focused on is letting them know that I want them to feel comfortable in my home. Focusing on simple things like giving them full use of my kitchen appliances, letting them use my WiFi, and making sure they have a comfortable place to sit down all night while they watch me sleep, may not seem very important, but they are things that my nurses greatly appreciate. It shows them that I respect them, and that I have taken the time to think about making their time in my home more pleasant. This goes a long way in strengthening our relationship, which in turn often results in me receiving better care because of the strong connection between us. By applying my dad’s wisdom and “thinking of others before myself,” I am able to make the lives of my nurses, as well as my own life, much better. Not too bad for such a simple, often overlooked phrase, eh?
I can never thank my father enough for how much this idea of “thinking of others before yourself” has helped me throughout my life. Without this wisdom he passed on to me, there is no doubt in my mind that I would not have been able to achieve the amazing life I have. Nor would I have the passion I do for helping others, which is what led me to create Roll Models. I want to say thank you to my dad for modeling this mindset for me, as well as the plethora of other life lessons he taught me that turned me into a good man. I hope that he is as proud to call me his son as I am to call him my father. If I can garner half the respect and be half the man he is, I will consider my life a monumental success.
No one on their deathbed, as they are looking back on their life, has ever said the words, “I may not be well respected or liked by anyone, but at least I am dieing debt free!” When you look back on your life, you are going to think about the people who love you and the legacy you leave behind, not the balance of your checking account. By putting the needs of others before your own, you will live a life that you can be proud of and build strong relationships with your loved ones. What will your life look like as you look back when it comes time to meet your maker? Will you be debt free in a mansion with private doctors, but alone and forgotten? Or will you be surrounded by loved ones in a county hospital room with a smile on your face, because you know that the people whose lives you touched will remember you forever? Take a minute to think about this today. Make sure you are thinking of others before yourself and living a life you can be proud of. This will ensure that you have the happy, fulfilling life you deserve, as well as improve every life you touch.