Dad Military PhotoEver since I was little I’ve always had this personal rule…

“Always Finish What You Started Before Starting Something New”.

I know exactly where this comes from, and I’m not sure whether to thank my Father on this Father’s Day or curse him for what at the time seemed like another pointless life lesson. It’s only today that I realize many of these life lessons had application in the business world.  Even today, almost 11 years after his passing I still abide by most of these life lessons or at least feel guilty if I willingly don’t.

“Be On Time”

For example, Dad was a stickler about being 15 minutes early for any engagement whether it was a dinner, church or meeting. His military service probably played a part in his early arrival rule. You were never “waiting” for my father, and I learned to expect this out of anyone I’m meeting as well. I believe in respect for other people’s time and feel being 5-10 minutes early is sufficient. It takes extenuating circumstance for me to leave someone waiting. If it’s unavoidable, I at least give them a heads-up. As a matter of fact, my reoccurring dream (or nightmare) I’ve had for years is not getting somewhere on time whether the airport, meeting, class or starting a presentation. You name it. I’ve had the dream. Thanks Dad!

“Don’t Talk Like a Dummy”

My Dad was also a stickler for speaking correctly with no grammar errors or informal speak. At the time I found this extremely annoying when he’d interrupt the conversation to correct your language. Gees, I mean really, no one likes the “grammar police” writing you a ticket! The words “ain’t” or “axed vs asked” were not part of the language spoken in our house. But, this is one of those things I greatly appreciate, and unless I’m making a point I rarely speak improperly.

“Kids are Starving in Africa”

Another great gift from my Dad were some seemingly less important rules, many of which surrounded food. I can only guess Dad’s food rules centered around a Catholic upbringing or respect for “starving children around the world”. Here are a couple of my favorites;

  1. You couldn’t eat all your vegetables and then move on to the potatoes saving the meat for last, because it was your favorite. Instead you had to eat a bit from each pile evenly. Who knows why that was important to my Father, but it was.
  2. We were all required to turn our plates around to that food segment. It was unacceptable to dive your fork across the plate to the pile on the other side. Nope! The correct way was to spin your plate around making sure that food pile was closest to you. Wouldn’t it have been easier if our plates were sitting on a lazy Susan instead? Just saying.

The food rules are something I did not instill in my daughter, but she was well aware of these food rules, as we ate many meals at my parent’s house over the years. Instead of my Dad passing along these “values” to my daughter, Grandpa (my Dad) seemed to have loosened up over the years. Perhaps it was the light-hearted jabs he took from his five grown children about the senselessness of his rules. Nothing made us chuckle more than my Dad’s favorite saying when we’d put a large amount of food on our plates during the holidays and not be able to finish all the food on our plate. He’d say “hmmm, looks like your eyes were bigger than your stomach”! My daughter and I giggled hysterically every time he said it, visualizing “eyes bigger than your stomach”!

Grandpa Photo

“Don’t be a Quitter”

But, there are so many good rules my Dad brought to my life that I’m hardly complaining, after all, this post is all about finishing what you start, before you start something new. If you signed up for Flute lessons (yes, I played the flute for 3 years) you didn’t quit in the middle.

I’m not sure the following example was an actual rule or my translation of the aforementioned food rules, but I never open a new box of cereal unless I had finish the already open box. Even today I still practice this rule no matter how silly it might seem. Seriously, some days you’re not in the mood for Lucky Charms and want Trix instead!

“Reading is Power”

But the primo application of the “finish what you started” rule, that an hour ago I broke, centers around books. We were taught to love books and reading as kids.  And what a great tribute it’d be to my Father to end this fine Father’s Day reading. When I went to iBooks I realized, oh my god, I’m reading about 10 books at the same time. Egads…seriously? What if I never finish reading any of these books I’ve started? I literally started sweating with worry.

Oh, not with worry. It’s just hot here in Phoenix. Phew, but I did realize it’s okay to not always finish what you’ve started before you start the next thing. After all, isn’t this what we do everyday in the business world? How else could we juggle the multiple projects and tasks that come our way every day? So, maybe this “finish what you started” rule, like many rules, have their place, and it’s up to you to determine when they apply. Guess that’s what it means to be an adult!

“Happy Father’s Day”

Hope you all had a terrific Father’s Day remembering all the great life lessons your father instilled in you and how they affect your business and personal interactions!