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The 5 Most Important Things My Dad Ever Gave Me

Sunday is Father’s Day and I still don’t have a gift for my Dad.

I like giving gifts and consider myself pretty good at it, but my Dad has always been a tough one.

Other than a 1961 Chevrolet Corvette, I’ve never heard him say he wanted anything. He buys himself all the obscure Bible commentaries he wants on Amazon and not for lack of trying, but the guy could never get a hobby to stick.

There I was thinking about how I had zero ideas about what to give my Dad for Father’s Day, but mostly how, especially as I raise my own kids, how thankful I am for his approach to life, which shaped mine for the better.

And then it hit me—I manage a well-read blog about money and living your best life.

So, Dad, I don’t have anything for you to unwrap this year, but I would like to say thank you and share with you (and all our friends here on the Internet) the lessons for which I am most grateful—the ones I’m doing my best to pass on to my own kids.

Anything Is Possible If You’re Willing To Get Creative

No matter what random idea or dream I’ve proposed over the years (and there have been some doozies), you responded with enthusiasm and curiosity. Where I think a lot of parents would have rolled their eyes or been quick to list the top five reasons it would never work, you got out a legal pad, and sketched out how we might make it happen.

And one of my favorite pictures of you is on vacation, out by the pool, with a legal pad dreaming your dreams.

There is still always a new plan, a new business idea, a new goal, and they don’t all come true, of course. You lose interest, or the numbers don’t pan out, or you get excited about the next thing and move on, but you’ve made more happen than most people.

And you made me believe that there was nothing out of my reach. Nothing too big, too high, too far, as long as I was willing to get creative and work hard.

The older I get the more I realize how rare and powerful a gift it was to be raised with this perspective.

Asking Makes The Difference

This one is simple, yet profound, when I think about all the different areas of my life it has been applied—and, in fact, made a difference. Because of you, I always ask.

If You Are Willing To Work Hard, Money Won’t Be A Problem

One of the most valuable lessons you taught me is how money and hard work are inextricably linked. I remember one summer being worried about making enough money, and you told me, I shouldn’t waste my time worrying about money and focus all that energy on working hard and doing my best work because those are things I could control.

Chances are, if I worked hard, it would all sort itself out.

Obviously, there are circumstances and situations in life where it isn’t nearly this simple. But when I think of what I want to teach my kids, how I want them to approach work, and life, and money—this is it.

Thanks to you, Dad, I have always loved the feeling of working hard, stretching myself, and giving my very best effort. Even this very year, when circumstances were changing and there were a lot of factors beyond my control, I put my head down and focused my energy on doing my very best.

You were right, it all sorts itself out.

Discipline Is Freedom

I have so many friends whose parents never talked about money and as a result, they had to learn so many lessons the hard (expensive) way.

But you talked to me about money. I knew that you gave money to church every Sunday and that you were saving for me to go to college. I knew exactly how credit cards worked and how to use them sparingly (and only when I could pay the balance in full every month to help build my credit or earn airplane miles).

I’m so thankful that you didn’t just try to scare me or preach at me or dictate my priorities, you taught me why—why debt is so dangerous and saving is so important. You made it clear the choices were still mine to make, as long as I understood what they meant.

If I choose debt today, it means that tomorrow I will have less freedom to take the chance, do the new thing, pursue the crazy dream. I like having options. And I remain fairly terrified of debt because I don’t want to feel like I’m without them.

Thank you for modeling the freedom that discipline provides.

There Is Humor In Everything And Life Is More Fun If You Find It

Genes are genes, and you did not do me any favors when it comes to height or athletics, but I’ll let it slide because you taught us how to laugh about it. If there was a way to make something funny, why wouldn’t we try? You taught us to apply humor to every situation and it made it all that much more fun.

If there was a way to make something funny, why wouldn’t we try? You taught us to apply humor to every situation and it made it all that much more fun. It’s easy to take this for granted because it’s the only way I’ve ever seen the world, but I’m so grateful.

I promise to keep giving you great material and to make our home one where we find a way to laugh whether it’s good, bad, or ugly.


Dad, on this Father’s Day—and every day—I’m so thankful that I hit the jackpot in the Dad lottery, and that you continue to be such a huge influence in my life. I will never name a child Bruce because, well, I think it is obvious, but I will do my very best to pass these lessons on to my kids to further your legacy and, hopefully, make you proud.

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The 5 Most Important Things My Dad Ever Gave Me