A Simple Father's Day Tribute


I end every installment of Reading for Leading with the line “lead with your best self.”  In my case no one had a clearer picture of “my best self,” nor conveyed it with such confidence as my dad did.  He was for me an extraordinary leader and a truly fantastic coach because he continually gave me the impression that he saw greatness and goodness in me.  He excelled at the first job of a great parent, coach, or leader:  seeing something greater in those they lead than the followers see in themselves.

Because I don’t really know how to communicate thanks to my dad – now ten years deceased – allow me to honor him with the question he inspired:  Do you see – and make clearly known — the greatness you see in those you lead?  Work to see it, work to convey it, and they will 

Lead with their best selves, 


P.S.  Why not comment on today’s RFL, or share your own Fathers Day tribute to your dad, by commenting on my Reading for Leading blog?   


  • My Dad was a salesman, his gift of gab was passed to me. He knew everybody. He also knew their hobbys, family, etc.
    I learned to greet with a smile, remember names, remember facts about people and be an encourager. This has helped me, as I work with volunteers. Thanks Dad.

  • One of my father’s greatest gifts to me has been his enduring fight to overcome many of the social, psychological and emotional roadblocks that were established for him as a child during World War II.

    As the war came to an end in Poland, and the Nazi’s left that country to the cruelty of the Russian army, countless families were either murdered or deported to prison camps in Russia, inlcuding my father’s family.

    After losing one of his sisters, and almost starving to death himself, my father and the family escaped to the Middle East and then Europe and Australia. I have only begun to understand the trauma that this caused, and to realize how valiantly he and his family have fought to find grace, hope and love after growing up in such a time of violence and hatred.

    If one measure of a person’s character is how ardently he works on his own growth, then my father has indeed been an amazing leader, a wonderful father, and a great man.

    Happy Father’s Day Dad!

  • Really appreciated your story, Dan. My Dad died, too, three years ago and his positive attitude is the greatest gift he left the five of us. When I was a grumpy teen-ager he would stand me in front of a mirror, his hands firmly on my shoulders and lovingly urged me to repeat, “I will greet this day with love in my heart.” We would end up laughing, the ritual melting even the crankiest teen — and I still use it today when I’m out of sorts!

  • My dad died right before Father’s Day in 1991. He was always nice to everyone, was helpful, and had a joke and a smile to share. I was amazed at how many people came to his funeral. He had a father who was negative and mean but thankfully my dad wasn’t that way. He was suportive in eveything his daughters did.

  • My dad who is a fine age of 86 now has always guided me threw life willing to stear me straight and encourage me to take chances to become successful at home and work I will always have a special place in my heat for his guidance in life.

  • My dad is 91 and still plays golf once a week in Florida. Those are his outings when he isn’t spending time with my mom, 86 at the nursing home from a stroke. Many people admire him for his dedication to my mother, and many chuckle when he complains about the younger golfers playing too slowly for him. I am lucky to have such great parents.

  • My father passed away 19 years ago but his legacy still lives on in me. My father always found the best in everyone and was a leader with compassion. He always expressed his love and care for his family first, friends, co-workers and his employees. He is missed greatly but his kind manner and his way of empowering the people around him still live on. He was a great man and I cherish everything I learned from him and I try to live my life as he did and hopefully make in proud of me. While he was alive he always let me know he was proud of me. I hope he still sees that in me.

  • My Dad was my “Hero”. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of him and wish he was still here with us. He was a man of honor. He loved his family and worked very hard to support them. He opened his heart to anyone in need. He has been gone over 12 years and prior to making any major decisions in my life I think about what he would advise me to do. He was a great husband, friend, & brother but most of all he was a “Great Father” I am very proud to have had him as my Father and I only hope he can look down and be proud of me.

  • You hit on a key talent of great leaders Dan, again you are right on target! Yes, most leaders see the greatness in those they lead – many times it is blatantly obvious requiring only a basic awareness to identify. The rare leader, the great leader is the person which makes the conscious effort to verbalize their discovery! It’s as if to acknowledge a developing leader shows weakness or in some sad way equates to sharing their own greatness. Why do people fail to verbalize the greatness in others? Sure, it takes a deliberate effort, sure it means acknowledging others have great talents, sure it indicates others can rise up to become the ‘go to’ team member! Don’t senior leaders understand their personal encouragement is one their most valuable coaching tools? Making the effort to identify and champion great talents, great accomplishments and great deeds in juniors will always be the hallmark of the legacy leaders.

  • My dad was a gentle soul, and a giant of a person. His focus was on the “golden rule.” As a farmer he was kind to everyone, and truly a steward of the land long before we were deeply aware of environmental issues. He was a quiet leader in our small community; respected and loved by all. He always reinforced in me that I could achieve my dreams; he believed in me and supported me in so many ways. He passed 19 years ago; yet his message, leadership, and love stays with me everyday.

  • Next to Jesus Christ, my dad is the greatest Man to ever walk the earth. I demonstrated for my brothers and I by clear precept and example what it means to be a Father, Man, Husband, and Leader. He has always taken the opportunity to let my brothers and myself know that you must shoot for the moon, even if you hit a street light! Never stopping striving to be the best that you can be with the gifts and talented that you have been given by God! I live my life by that and have also taught my sons the same thing including all of those I lead.

  • My father too deceased now almost 5 years, immigrated to this country from Italy and lived the ‘American Dream’. He too saw greatness in others and taught me as I was growing up, “You can be anything you want to be”. He told me this over and over again to inspire me as I grew up, to be the best that I could be in anything I choose.
    Thanks Dad, happy father’s day, from your son.

  • My dad instructed me to always be honest and never “get behind the eight ball”. He is an uncomplicated successful man who has only an eigth grade education. He is 91 years old, a little frail but still exudes inner strength. He is a very honest person with a great deal of integrity, I have learned this from his lead.

  • Today marks the 25th anniversary of my father’s death due to complications with diabetes. It was the day after Fathers Day, we were all at bedside in the last remaining hours. He was a month shy of his 55th birthday.

    My dad, Jack, was a good father not a perfect one as I can now appreciate being a dad. He loved us very much and expressed it in his feelings as well as actions like “showing up”…to games, concerts or taking us on trips. Woody Allen said it best, “99% of success in life is showing up.”

    He never met my bride of 18 years and my son, who turns 4 years old tomorrow but I try to apply the “best of Dad” to my life…loving and accepting people, building relationships with those different than himself (e.g., culture, race, socioeconomic, etc.), showing up, expressing my feelings and loving, protecting, teaching, coaching and encouraging my wife and son to live their destiny.

    I love you, Dad.

  • My dad set an example of treating each of his five children as separate individuals who did not need to be compared to their siblings, and who were equally loved and admired for their own uniqueness. That inate wisdom alowed each child to grow at his or her own rate, make their own mistakes(we all made them) and to respect and love their siblings to this day. It was a great example for to mirror with our own children.

  • My dad has survived cancer, diabetes, open heart surgery and my three siblings and me. He is now 81 and has been married to my mom for 56 years. He has always treated people kindly and with respect and is loved by all that know him. The message of working hard, playing hard and treating people like you want to be treated is instilled in me. I thank my dad for this and I love him tremendously. I hope my son feels the same way about me in 30 years.

    These other blogs are awesome as I can see the love, respect and caring people have for their dads. Anyone can be a father, but it is truly special to be a dad.

  • My “dad” was my step-father. He worked for the postal service. He had a ready smile, could cry just as easily for joy or sorrow, and would give his shirt off his back to a friend in need because he trusted there was another shirt around the corner (and there was). He deeply believed in a merciful God; not a stern one. He loved my mom and treated by brother and I as his own sons. He ignored the great pain (I later discovered) he was in all of the time as a result of his time in Europe in WWII. I raised my three children the way I thought he would want me to; with authority but without domination (unfortunately, he didn’t live long enough to see any of them). When my adult children honor me as their father, I thank him for his example.

  • My father, also deceased, taught me what it meant to be a “gentle man”. His faith, kindness, support, and laughter are things I will always remember and hopefully have passed on to my children. My dad was able to show the true meaning of love of wife and family, which he instilled in his seven children.

    I love you Daddy.

  • My Dad died in April. The arrival of Father’s Day brings to focus that the person who walks through the door each night has a role that is perhaps even more important than a producer of goods and services and whose value can be computed in terms other than a sum of net worth and career advancement. In our careers, we can choose our path, and choose whether to lead or become part of the pack. In our family, for better or for worse, we are a role model. The choices we make, the morals we follow, the way we treat our spouses, parents, siblings and associates – our character – is a constant example to those who look to us for guidance, for forming their own blueprint for adulthood.

    Dad lived a life of self-discipline which afforded him the freedom to order his priorities around his values. His work was important, but only to the extent that it would best serve the needs of his customers and provide an income to support his family and his community interests. He loved his job, but would have changed it if it did not support his other priorities. He valued helping others, and was a leader and mentor in his branch office, though “management” was not his thing. He had an astounding assortment of gifts – mechanical, artistic, analytical, athletic. Unlike most of us, he continued to hone each gift through hard work – every day, every month, every year. He lived a reward-for-performance example and did not shield us from experiencing life’s consequences.

    My father provided opportunities to learn and to grow, to fail and to recover. He spent countless hours with his kids playing sports, camping or taking them on educational trips. He loved us, and his priorities demonstrated that love until the day of his death.

    Thanks, Dad.

    • Rick,
      Thanks for the beautiful tribute.
      I found the first year after my dad died to be unbelievably full of sadness but so many moments that I would describe as receiving the richness of his life. It was as if he was sending me great storehouses of his energy, and I have lived off of that energy for ten years now. And it has never been depleted. I wish the same for you!
      Thanks for sharing him (and you) with us.

  • My dad immigrated to St. Louis from Germany in the early 1920s. He was a journeyman cabinet maker and very skilled in his trade. Later he worked as a precision carpenter. He cooperated with the building trades union to train many apprentices and brought out the best in them. Several became builders on their own. His honesty and integrity accompanied his precision craftsmanship. I always admired him for this and tried to emulate his style. Though I prepared for a profession rather than a trade, his example always was a benchmark for me.I did learn a few carpentry skills that kept me in good stead throughout my life.

  • My father had strength, courage, and an incredible work ethic.He faced many hardships and never ran from the challenges they presented. He gave respect to everyone he interacted with regardles of Socio – Economic, cultural or racial background. He was not financially wealthy but he was immeasurably rich in character.

  • My Dad, a father of 10 of us kids was a great leader in his own way. Having 10 kids is alone a tribute to his unselfish character. His famous advise to all of us kids was to “Keep Plugging Away” when we would ask his advise with anything. In other words “never give up, always look forward” and KEEP PLUGGING AWAY” As I age and try to do what is right his words couldn’t be more clear. He also taught us as a good catholic that nothing is more important that to “Get To Heaven” so whatever you do here remember that this is the ultimate goal……”Keep Plugging Away” no matter how tough things get……..Happy Fathers Day DAD…….you were the BEST!!

  • I just read your Father’s Day tribute today, June 20. The first thought that came to me is not related to my Father, but to me as a parent. And what great timing – as it was just last evening that my 11 year-old son made it known to me that I must think he “sucks” (to use his verbage) at baseball. Wow – did that sure drive home (very quickly) the realization that I don’t convey to him the greatness that I see. When I asked him why he said such a thing – he said because I always encourage him to practice. He’s right – when I know he’s going to pitch a game, I tell him he should practice his pitching. He’s been in a hitting slump and has been selected for our District team for Little League World Series. So naturally, I encouraged him to practice his hitting. I want both of my children to be able to say about me what you’ve said about your father. I’m going to improve upon making their greatness known! Thanks for the added inspiration.

  • I put this in the wrong place on the website and intended to share it with you here.

    My father owned two pairs of shoes. The first pair, the one I most commonly remember him wearing, were stiff, steel toed and often covered in a mix of mud an concrete. They were hard, and rugged and well worn because each day they left the house at four or five a.m. to head to some unfinished highway and either saw through the layers of a road in disrepair or to shovel and smooth a sidewalk in one of our Michigan cities. He worked for weeks at a time in the Upper Peninsula, digging large drains, occasionally coming across a large chunk of copper from the rich earth. He worked in central Michigan, removing bricks hidden beneath layers of asphalt and then shoveling new cement into place and patiently making it smooth with a trowel. When he finished, he and his co-workers would flip a coin to see who would be the lucky person to put the “final stamp” on the work. He was a cement finisher – and it was a matter of pride, achievement, accomplishment for all of those hard working men to place that “final stamp” on fine work that never even bore their names – it bore the company name, and you can still see some of those names today.

    The second pair of shoes my father owned were a pair of leather moccasins that were lined on the inside with remarkably soft sheep skin. When he came home, usually long after dark, with only enough energy to make it into “his” chair – my job became to loosen the stiff and dirty laces and remove those boots. The boots were banished for a few hours each night to a small little rug by the door while my father put his feet into those comfortable moccasins that somehow said, “You’re finished for today. This time belongs to you.”

    What I learned was that hard work is noble and empowering and sometimes (often times) anonymous – but the value of it is not diminished simply because your name is not on it. I learned that you go to work everyday, even when the days are rainy and gray or you’re not “feeling” up to it. I learned that the moments of “coming home” those moments of softness, comfort, relaxation; moments when the time truly “belongs to me” – are better and more rewarding when I have Earned them through meeting my obligations, doing my best in every attempt and following through. The “hard” moments make the “soft” ones more savory -the way a glass of cool water tastes better after a long hike on a very hot day. They have more value – more meaning.

    I learned that one moment is connected to another, the way that one scene connects another in a play – and that we need to be conscious that we are continually writing new moments of “hardness” or “softness” and that we have to be very strategic about our plots to prevent the hard moments from being all there is.

    I learned all of this, by watching one inspiring yet simple man with only two pair of shoes. A man whose name you do not know, who never made the news, who didn’t graduate from high school and barely knew his father. A man who for the most part, led a hardworking, hard playing, anonymous sort of life. He was generous with his laughter and loyal to his friends and said to me one thing that I will never forget (though the passing years seem to erase many of the memories I try greedily to clench like a child’s penny in my fist). He said, “People are not disposable. Just because you don’t get what you want, need or expect from them, you don’t throw them away. You learn what you can ask for.” And I have tried, not always successfully, to apply that wisdom – knowing that we are all “feeling” our way through the hard and the soft moments – never really outgrowing the 6 year old value of that penny, simply assigning the value to bigger things.

    What a leader. What a father. What a man.

  • My dad passed away one month ago today, at the age of 82. This first Father’s Day without him has churned up many thoughts and memories about this unsung hero. He served his country in WW2, his community through public service, and his family by loving and believing in his wife and each one of his 7 children.
    His greatest legacy is how he passed on his faith to us by praying for each of his children and 26 grandchildren by name every day, and reading his Bible cover to cover 7 times since my mother passed away 17 years ago. We love you and miss you, Dad, and pledge to live our lives in a way that honors you and praises God.

    • Brian,
      Thanks for sharing your father with us. What a beautiful thought, “praying for each . . . by name every day.” I found the first year after my dad’s passing to be difficult and rich, as memories and loss would spring up out of the blue, unbeckoned. I am deeply grateful for that time of reflection though, as it was a time of deep absorption of my dad’s values and the gift of his life. I wish the same for you!
      — Dan

  • I appreciate the comments about your father. My dad passed away in 1994. I was fortunate enough to have my family in the Traverse City area last week and visited the beach my father liked to watch sunsets from. Standing alone on the beautiful Lake Michigan shore with the brilliant red sun setting over waves breaking on a rocky shore, I did not feel alone at all. I felt like my father was there with me and I thanked him for sharing this beautiful beach with me and for teaching me to appreciate the beauty that is always around me.

  • Thanks for the opportunity– I would never done this if not for the prompt to do so. Thanks again Dan for the wonderful thoughts
    My Dad passed away eight years back– he worked for the Indian Railways and was very dedicated to his work — he would do small things with great care and would never postpone things-He was focussed on giving the best education to his children although he was a school drop out– He knew that educating was the most powerful tool that he would provide his children- He took care of the expenditure although he suffered and made sacrifice to achieve that- he lived to see his children me and my sister do post graduation courses as well as complete our professional degrees.
    I miss him a great deal for this decisions even today

  • I read each and every tribute to fathers on here. In most cases, the comments were made about a father who had long since passed, yet left an indelible mark in the character of their children. I am lucky in that my father is still alive.

    I don’t remember my dad ever coaching any of my sports teams or visiting my classroom. He didn’t teach me how to fish, golf, hunt or ride my bike. And, it seems that he could never quite figure out how to help me with my homework, so that was usually mom’s job. Like many dads, mine probably wouldn’t have received any “Father of the Year” awards. Nonetheless, he has left a life-long imprint on my life that shapes me and my decisions every day.

    My dad demonstrated the values of hard work, passion and character. He had the gift of being able to make best friends with a total stranger in ten minutes flat.

    My father decided late in life that he wanted to become a pastor. So, he and my mom quit their jobs, took their kids out of school, moved hundreds of miles away from friends and relatives and started a new life. They had faith that they could leave everything behind, but that God would somehow provide for us, like manna from heaven for the people of Israel. And that, He did.

    Dads are not always idyllic figures, perfect in the eyes of the world or their children. But, fathers don’t need to be in order to have a profound impact on the lives of their children.

    I have three young boys of my own now. I’ve coached many of their sport teams. I’ve not only visited their classrooms, but I’ve sat on their school board. I’ve helped teach my sons how to fish, ride bikes and play golf.

    I could only hope, however, that one day I can have the profound impact on my sons as my own father has had on me.

  • I don’t want to write an essay but it will be hard not to. I was 14 when my father died 19 years ago (ok so now you know my age 😉 ) and at the time I cried the Niagara. I grieved and grieved and grieved – of course it was the best thing I could have done. I was such a boy at that age, a very ‘young’ young boy and very naive and not having Dad around was tough at times.

    What his life gave me in those 14 years was an example of how to have a big heart and how to live a big life. My Dad was one of those people that you wanted to invite to a party. He was confident, loved people, and loved to be where people were just to tell or hear stories together. I used to love being at social events with family or friends and be near him and see how others enjoyed his company. There was one time though where this wasn’t the case. I was on a state soccer team away at a tournament and the parents of the team all got on well and Dad was up the front carrying on like a pork chop and though everyone was laughing I kind of ‘tested the water’ with a friend on the team (I was about 13). I turned and said to him how my Dad was being embarrassing, I think more because I started to become more aware of my own sensitivities in this area and he responded with a statement that removed me ever feeling this way again. He said “No way, your Dad is funny, he’s so cool”. I guess I have my friend to thank for that moment. My Dad was warm with my older brother and sister and I, yet we knew where the line was and when we had crossed it. He loved my mother – the most important lesson of all – and I always felt completely convinced that he took his job seriously, of providing for us and loving us, and that he ‘just did it’.

    My life since then has been shaped by his memory and unconsciously seeking out other men who potentially resonated with the things Dad tought me. Of course my Mum has to take the biggest rap as she sought to help me cope initially with the loss when goodness knows what she was going through herself, then beyond that helping me grow into a man without my father around. She has put up with so much from me as she has seen me grow, develop, and form my own views and attitudes on things, that no words could ever compensate.

    One last memory of my father that is one I always hold so dear and really sums up the way I felt about my relationship with him… I remember often if I were coming to greet him from a distance away that I would start running towards him, I would get close to him and his strong arms would lift me up and swing me around then he would embrace me. I still vividly remember the feeling of safety I had in his arms and though he has never met my sons, I weep as I write that he invariably has held them the same way through me as I pass on this tradition to them… I do miss him still and know just how lucky I was to have had a father who could instill such a memory of him in such a short time of knowing him, for I know many others aren’t so fortunate.

    Dan, thanks for the opportunity.

  • Father!
    It a big solace to be in his arms, protected and allowed to blossom Faaa'(r) ther!.
    When my father left for heavenaly abode 5 years ago on 9/11, ( ofcourse not at the
    ill-fated place) ,I had wriiten the following verse:

    My Father, where are you!

    Till yesterday, I felt blessed by the weight of a hand
    on my head, which was so reassuring.
    Suddenly, I feel that gone, taking along the might,
    which firmly on ground, allowed me a secure footing,
    Father! I never felt there was converse to gravity,
    and man’s scientific discoveries had true sanctity;
    But God! I now feel bizarre, as if popped up in air,
    where any tiny stoke of air can now put me into despair,
    by wriggling me here and there, when you aren’t here!
    with no ancestral base left, whose glare none could dare,
    scared to move away from your abode I still fear!

    My Father, I never realized, your hand was so strong,
    physically, for the match of your otherwise thin bearing,
    Mere thought of your departure lets me feel flogged,
    No my father, you can’t leave me alone weeping!

    My Father! My eyes aren’t seeing any longer,
    Please come back, be here and let you be seen.
    Infact, did I never realize, you always braved
    to make that intense flash of light on me opaque,
    which has now mercilessly left me mauve,
    duly blinded me, and as if beaten dumbfounded,

    My Father, I feel my soul having been punched
    as you moved on, vacating your throne,
    Please reappear, And plug this “Hollow”,
    Which you created by withdrawing your Halo,
    The gaps are unlikely to be plugged you sure know.
    Father! Though no major tear, of a pain of being torn
    assorted collage of feelings your parting devoured,
    yet with all gay colours gone, I now feel depleted!
    ravening of the fabric in me, you voided dourly ago.
    While I feel very bare, deprived and incomplete,
    Father my life is all-insipid now, leaving no ego!
    I bow to God’s systems though, yet this defeat?
    Why do they fail me in you and my child’s ergo!

    Without you my father, How can I sail solo?
    Don’t leave me alone, Father, please don’t go.

    © 2002 Priyavrat Thareja


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