Fathers and Father Figures

The effect one’s father can have on career success is phenomenal. My father encouraged me from an early age toward my goal to be involved in radio and TV. More importantly, he never discouraged me from any career move I made.

My dad had seen so many fathers try to micromanage their sons’ and daughters’ lives, so he made strong efforts to avoid bullying me or my brother into any particular career path. He was aware of my interest in media from an early age and accommodated my requests to visit radio stations and remote broadcasts. His support of my ambitions and accomplishments was always clearly stated and has always been appreciated.

There are men I have worked for who I considered father figures. These guys, a generation or so older than me, gave me tremendous opportunities to do things and be part of the media world from an early age. I hope my talent and enthusiasm were factors, but their decisions to hire me (and promote me) ahead of others is appreciated to this day. Much of their career advice (based on their own experiences) was not always followed, but always given appropriate consideration.

As you and I deal with our own children and with those who may hold our accomplishments in some regard, it’s important to remember the guidance we pass along is filtered through the prism of our own experiences. While some things remain the same (for instance, human nature), many things have changed and continue to change. I’m not just talking about technology, but also about attitudes and motivations.

When guiding your own offspring, I believe the most important thing for a father to do is to express to your children that your love is unconditional no matter which career they chose. I believe it is good to encourage your kids to participate in activities that relate to their career goals, either through summer jobs/internships or community activities. But, whether your child is working for a major corporation this summer or flipping burgers, let her or him know that you value their work.

It sometimes takes people a while to figure out whether they want to work in a job that will satisfy their work desires OR whether they want to find a job that will allow them to earn enough money to satisfy other dreams. If your son or daughter can accomplish both in the same gig, happiness will follow. Remember, too, that, your child may make a 180º change in career direction. And that’s okay.

Take a moment this week to consider how your father has helped you achieve what you have accomplished in life. And, if you are yourself a dad (or even a father figure), think about the way you are influencing lives every day with your words and actions. Happy Father’s Day!

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