Am I making him proud?
There are questions one must ask, frequently, to remain on a path that will lead us to make a positive impact on those whose lives we touch. One of my big days for asking questions is June 13.
Each year as this date comes around, I remember and celebrate the birthdate of my Father, Gene Mills. Dad is gone, but will never be forgotten to those who knew him. The hundreds of young kids who came to his memorial service nearly 10 years ago still remember Mr. Mills’s smile. The swimmers he taught in his post-professional career carry his legacy forward so much more than the 30 years he spent in the employee-benefits business.
Gene Mills was the most positive person I’ve ever met. When I was a younger man, just out of college, I decided I wanted to work for my Dad. The trouble was, the company he worked for had very strict rules regarding nepotism, so I was put on an independent side of the business. I became an insurance salesman. The training I got from my superiors was the standard cookie-cutter stuff. "Bring us the names of 10 of your closest friends, and we’re going to make some calls." Dad was horrified at the lack of shaping and educating, but was powerless to step in because of the rules of the business. Needless to say (and thankfully), I was a complete flop as an insurance salesman.
When I decided the insurance business wasn’t for me, I asked my Dad how he did it. How do you handle so much rejection in your day-to-day life? This was when my real education started.
"Every NO is one NO closer to a YES."
He’d walk out of failed calls with a thank you and a smile… knowing he was one step closer.
"The most important person you’ll ever meet is the receptionist or, in the case of a swim coach, the person who cleans the pool."
You are above no one, and every person you come in contact with has a meaningful life. Treat them as such, and it will make your job easier.
"Touch everyone you work with…with something positive each day."
No matter your mood, or if you’ve had a positive or negative encounter with that person, if you plan on working with them again, tell them ONE positive thing every day.
As people greet, we trade the standard "hey, how-you-doing" greetings. Dad would always respond, "AMAZING!" He’d tell me that people automatically think it’s a positive. He went on to say, "You’re not always having a great day, so you may mean AMAZINGLY BAD. Just don’t finish the sentence, and it’ll impact them positively."
You’re not the most important person in the room.
The people who believe this never talk about it, they just act on it. You’d have to experience a day with my Dad to understand this one. He was last… you were first.
I could go on and on. Who I am, and who I hope to be, is a result of the lessons imparted by my Father and Mother. Mom is still swimming her couple thousand every day, listening to her SwiMP3 player. Chopin it is this week. She and Dad were such incredible parents and, as I age, I understand what amazing role models they were, and still are.
One final lesson goes back to the opening line in this post… "Am I making him proud?"
Dad also taught me, the day you think you’ve made it, is the day you stop improving.
I’ll never stop asking that question. So, hopefully, by my end… the impact I’ve made will supply the answer.
Happy Birthday, Dad. I miss you and love you.