what DAD Taught Me About Life, Work, and Money

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Have you thought about the legacy you will leave behind to your friends, family, and co-workers? Not the money stuff, like ‘I’d like to have a 20’ tall bronze statue of myself playing the flute at the front entrance of the park’.

You know, the day-to-day stuff that you’ll be remembered for, next week, last week, and years after you’re gone.

When I looked over my ‘garden’ full of weeds recently I was reminded of my dad. His favorite hobby was vegetable gardening. Maybe that’s why I have bees, I can’t grow anything.

Wow, I can’t believe he’s been gone since 2010. The last time I saw him he was in a hospital bed, eating peanut butter crackers. It was snowing and I had to leave for the airport because of the weather.

He died from pneumonia, but he said he was ready to go.

I’m now a dad of twin 5-year-olds. I was thinking back to what I learned from my dad, as I struggle trying to be a good dad myself. And I came up with a few things that everyone can relate to.

Use Your Hobbies to Be Generous

Dad got out of work most days at 3:30, headed to his garden, and came home around 5:00 for dinner. (His garden was a couple miles away from where we lived.) He would go there most Saturday and Sunday mornings too.

All of my brothers, my sister, and many of their kids learned to garden or spent time there.

What I remember is he would plant all these vegetables and give them away to his friends and relatives. One year he had either 50 or 100 tomato plants. He gave away most of the tomatoes.

It’s easy to be generous with a hobby. Maddie (our new addition on The Scott Alan Turner Show) likes to knit as a hobby. Knitting is becoming a ‘thing’. Do you think people could knit gifts? Teach others how to knit? Share the joy of knitting as a relaxation technique?

Being generous isn’t always about money. It can be time or sharing knowledge at something you are amazing at.

What skills or hobbies are you great at that would help someone? How much would they appreciate you taking the time to help them? How amazing would that feel to you?

Guide Others on Their (Bad) Choices

Know that everyone faces forks in the road of life. Usually one direction leads to a smarter decision. My dad would often NOT say no. He would make me realize what I should do (it usually involved money choices).

  • I wanted to buy an expensive car stereo. Dad asked me how I was going to pay for college.
  • I wanted to stay in Georgia one summer between semesters, making 1/2 as much money as I could if I went home. Dad once again, asked me how I was going to pay for college.
  • After four years of college I wanted to go to graduate school. Dad said that’s fine, but I would have to come up with the money.

When my kids ask for toys, Katie and I default to ‘Great, it costs money. How much do you need to save so you can buy it?’

You can make better choices, and help others do the same by thinking about the alternatives. Weighing the options. And looking at the opportunity cost of spending money on one thing vs. another.

Take Pride in What You Do

When dad died, he had worked for the town (about 2,000 people) for over 30 years. So, they dedicated the annual report to him. I still have a copy and I’ll share with you some of what was written about my dad.

The transfer station where my dad worked was where town residents would bring their trash and recycling. Over the years due to budget cuts the town cut trash pick-up. So, dad ran the place where people brought trash.

“Frank’s dedication to his work was evidenced by how he maintained the Transfer Station. He took great pride in how he managed and cared for the facility, receiving many accolades from residents over the years.”

Every single person I know, from people that struggle paycheck-to-paycheck to the multi-millionaire business leaders I speak with every week, does work they don’t like.

That doesn’t mean they dislike their job, but aren’t there parts of your life or job you’d prefer not to do? Even business leaders have meetings to attend that they would rather not go to sometimes.

The question to consider is – what will you do in those moments?

I believe it’s a privilege and a blessing to have a job. Take pride in your work, even if it’s working at the dump.

Forgive Mistakes

“At times Frank would show his gruff side, but he never hesitated to provide assistance to anyone in need. An occasional yell at someone for not following the rules would always end with a smile and a wave, and the words: “Don’t do it again!”

Dad could yell at someone, but always leave them smiling in the end.

I think about my parents and how they have influenced my parenting, both the good and ‘needs improvement’. But I also think about how those life lessons apply to other people too.

Are you doing that? Are you looking at your own life and what type of legacy your thoughts, attitudes, and actions will leave on others? Because they will. Years later after we’re gone, they will.

Every day when we show up, online or offline, we’re spreading some type of message, some type of influence, something that could have an impact and be remembered.

  • It can be the stay-at-home mom showing her kids how to fold laundry
  • It could be the person in the office helping a coworker with a mind-numbing spreadsheet
  • It could be the driver on the road who decides NOT to honk their horn when someone cuts them off (I’ve learned to laugh it off. Ok, sometimes, not all the time.)

Share your message, because somebody needs to hear it. You may never know who. You may never know when it will click or stick (so keep repeating your message). You may never know how much.

Know you can always save up for a bronze statue of yourself too.

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