20 Lessons Learned and Advice from Dad


Many father’s are not the best communicators. However, while fostering a relationship with dad over the years, we’ve discovered that he is brilliant and wise beyond words. These are the twenty lessons of life, love, success, style, and responsibility that have shaped us into the men we are today.

Every man/woman leaves a legacy. The important thing is that you have a say in yours”

– A man’s legacy becomes increasingly important as he gets older. The problem is that a lot of guys think it comes from their success, title, and amount of money they have accumulated. In truth, your legacy includes everything from your signature style to the way you show respect to others. In other words, you just never know where your legacy will be remembered, so make sure you are proud with the majority of things you do.

Being a man has nothing to do with being manly”

– Machismo is often used to mask insecurity, doubt, and fear. A man should be comfortable enough in himself to express a quiet confidence that does not need any bells or whistles as proof of his valor.

The squeaky wheel may get the oil, but it may also get thrown out.”

– In other words, a tattletale/showman is rarely appreciated, even if he or she appears to be getting all the glory. Talent is still rewarded for those who demonstrate humility and respect.

Don’t complain about something, unless you have a solution to the problem”

– I have found this to be as true in relationships as it is in business. People don’t like being told something is wrong. It makes them feel helpless and criticized. If you can offer a solution, however, it will spark conversation and creative ideas.

Praise in public; before you criticize in private”

– I have no doubt that this old saying came from the teachings of Andrew Carnegie, who believed that encouragement and interest was always stronger than criticism and rejection. It is best to coax the right behavior of others, rather than punish the wrong. The wrong will go away by itself, if a person received the most praise from doing right.

In life you are either a wish bone, jaw bone, or back bone. The wishbone dreams about doing things, the jawbone talks about doing them, and the backbone is the only one who actually gets anything done”

– Enough said.

Always read the directions first”

– Whether you are putting together a stool, or filling out a job application; you will find the most success, if you give yourself the edge of actually following through with the direction of how to do something. In other words, it is not just about your own talent, intelligence, or craft. You have to learn the rules of the game before you can succeed at anything.

The bullies in school and life, even though they may demonstrate skill, are only acting out because they doubt their own self worth”

– It is hard to be intimidated by someone who is even more afraid of you, than you are of them. Push these people aside, as they are undeserving of your time and words.

When in doubt, layer up”

– The context of this comment was usually before leaving to go on a family camping trip. However, I’ve discovered that layering has a number of benefits in everyday life. This includes regulating body temperature to giving you a number of style choices that can take you from the office to a nightclub without going home to change.

Well, now we know what not to do”

– Father and son projects are not always successful. However, in these playful words, my father was reminding me that by paying attention to mistakes, rather than lamenting over them, this would trigger eventual success, rather than perpetual fear of trying.

A garage is only as good as its organizer”

– I have expanded on this advice over the years to include my closet, desk, and file cabinet. Men often strive to have the very best of everything. However, owning the best means very little if you don’t know where it is, or how to take care of it.

There isn’t anything wrong with a bow tie”

– Every man will need to wear a tux at some point in his life. Those clip-on bow ties are all identical. Why not express your individuality by knowing how to tie your own bow. Incidentally, my father believed that knowing how to tie a good knot was also essential to life. In this case, the square knot was appropriate for just about any occasion where you wanted to make a lasting impression. And don’t forget the pocket square to go along with it.

What the hell are you wearing; just stick to the basics.”

– My father was never one to follow fashion trends. And as I discovered, there are a few basics in a man’s wardrobe that are everlasting, essential; and quite frankly, you can never go wrong with—like brown wingtip shoes, a striped shirt, and a gray wool overcoat.

Never fish in the same spot if you haven’t got a bite.”

– It’s easy to let your stubbornness hold you down to that same spot on the lake (in life), wanting to prove to everyone that your initial thought was not wrong. Success is not about being right or wrong. It is about learning from your mistakes and adapting to them. This is really the only way to make the most of an incorrect decision.

A dull knife is the most dangerous kind.”

– a sharp knife if easy to control, as it demonstrates confidence in its purpose, which is to slice through wood, fabric, and food. In addition, when a person lacks direction or purpose, their intentions can be lost within the inability to focus on doing any one thing exceptionally well. In today’s word, a jack of all trades may not be as marketable as an expert of one trade.

You can follow your own values, or the values of others; but never both at the same time.”

– Even an expert is capable of demonstrating prejudice and incorrect logic. There is only one “expert” at being you, so don’t forget to listen (and trust) yourself once in awhile.

Maintain your physique for your health; not to attract women”

– The truth is that women are more attracted to men who are secure, honest, and good communicators. Good health is something that you will appreciate through every stage of life. Why make it a one-time goal, when you can reap its rewards for many years to come.

It is easy to be a wine connoisseur; just pick out the prettiest label”

– There is a beginning to every success story. We can’t all start out as professionals, so find a way to get involved (which is usually the most difficult part), and then learn and improve as you go.

Money spent today, is money you’ll wish you had tomorrow”

– I learned this lesson the hard way, but now I always give myself plenty of time to think about a big purchase. The things you really want, will remain on your “want” list, while the impulse buy will dwindle with the next coming trend.

There is only one man worth competing against— yourself”

– It is lazy to focus on tearing other people down in order to bring yourself up. The only way to truly become a better person is to improve yourself. Comparing yourself to others only brings about envy, jealously, and self-defeat. Why waste that kind of energy on other people, when you could thrive off the positive energy of becoming a better person tomorrow, from who you are today.

For all the wisdom dad has shared with us, it’s unfortunate that we only honor him one day out of the year. Thank you for being there, and seeing us through the start of our own journey. Beyond the nose hair trimmers, stainless grills, and “#1 Dad” t-shirts, it is his timeless advice that is possibly the greatest gift of all.

About Dr. Eric J. Leech

Eric has written for over a decade. Then one day he created Urbasm.com, a site for every guy.

About Dr. Eric J. Leech

Eric has written for over a decade. Then one day he created Urbasm.com, a site for every guy.