Wednesday August 21, 2013
In honour of my father, J. Wayne Trask, who passed away Tuesday, August 20, 2013, this week’s, Magic of Marketing is coming to you via text instead of video.
My father was an exceptional human being. He was the kind of person who, when he walked into the room, you were happy it was him. Dad always had a smile on his face; he also found the positive side of any situation.
During the last week of his life, a friend of mine who had lost her dad suggested that I write a letter to my dad about what he meant to me and read it to him before he passes. I thought that was good advice. When I sat down to collect my thoughts, instead of a letter, a top 10 list appeared.
I took the opportunity to share this list with you today because I feel that it represents the core of who dad was and it truly is a list of life lessons that can create a very fulfilling and happy life.
Here it is. I trust you’ll find wisdom here as I have for so many years.
“The Top 10 Lessons I Learned from My Father”
1. Life is supposed to be fun. Don’t miss the small stuff. That’s where the richness is. Life truly happens in the small moments that make our heart soar. Of course, the big moments like a wedding day or a baby’s birth is wonderful; however, it’s often the ordinary acts that create extraordinary memories. Dad often spoke about how much he loved watching mom crawl on the floor with my nephews and play with whatever toy is hot at the time.
2. Don’t sweat the small stuff. My father was a master at this. I can’t remember a time when dad would carry a grudge or be concerned about small details. Dad always knew that worrying about things that were not in your control, particularly what other people thought about you, wasn’t a good use of your time and energy. Life is too short to be worrying about small things.
3. Tell people how much you care for them, often. It does matter. My dad did this a lot. Whenever we left each other, we would always hug or kiss and say, “I love you”. I really cherish the last one. He also often told my siblings and I how proud he was of us and would offer advice when needed. He showed us he really cared. There wasn’t a day that we didn’t know how much he loved us. Even more remarkably, dad didn’t keep this just for us, he was like this with his extended family, friends and colleagues.
4. Show people how much you care for them. Actions speak louder than words. Dad was a doer. I always knew this, but never did it sink in so much as when I was going through his “warm and fuzzy” folder. This folder (actually, there are 3 folders) is filled with letters, cards and emails from people over the years who expressed gratitude, kindness and love to dad. In his final week, I brought some favorites into the hospital and we reminisced and share stories about what they meant to him and us. The most common theme expressed throughout, whether it was from a friend, colleague, mentee or his children, was “Thank you for believing in me”. Dad always helped others and taught us this important principle through his actions.
5. Marry your best friend. It’s everyones’ hope that they can find a life partner who they can love deeply and share all of life’s magical and mysterious moments with. I feel a deep sense of contentment knowing that dad and mom found that in each other. I remember one particular night about 8 years ago when myself, dad and my sisters, Susan and Cathy, were sitting around the kitchen table late one night having a few “swallies”. Dad decided he wanted to have a ‘heart to heart’ with us and continued to use the next hour to tell us how lucky he was to have married our mother. For over an hour he told us how amazing Mom is and that we were the luckiest kids on earth to have her as our mother. Dad had a deep love, admiration and affection for mom and this is an important lesson he passed on to us, his children. They truly were the best of friends spending countless hours together, living life to the max, in the 42 years they were married. Marry your best friend. You will be forever grateful you made that decision.
6. Treat everyone with kindness, respect and integrity. Dad had a way of making everyone feel special. It didn’t matter who you are, what you do, where you come from or how much you made. You were here, you were human, and that meant you were going to be treated, ‘in style’.
7. Believe in someone’s potential and treat them as though they already are living up to it. I realized this lesson when I was going through the warm and fuzzy folder. Dad had mentored and helped countless people, myself and my siblings along with many friends, colleagues, employees and mentees. Dad could always see the greatness in a person and he had a remarkable way to make you feel as though being that great was not only easy, but an obvious destination on your path. Dad was an exceptional leader and mentor.
8. Have a strong work ethic. When dad married mom and became a father, he was determined to ensure we had better life circumstances than he had had growing up. Well, as dad always did, he not only reached his goal, he surpassed it. In his career, he accomplished more than most people do in a full lifetime. From running a company that employed more than 400 people, to putting in 1000’s of volunteer hours that saw several history-making events happen in our province, our dad was the epitmone of hard work. Even when he retired, he didn’t really retire. Up until his final month, he always had his hands in a few projects with my brother, Jason, helping build new buildings in town and other projects that kept his entrepreneurial spirit alive.
9. It’s really important to give back to your community. Dad taught me this lesson, as he did with many others, by showing, not talking about it. I can tell you that he put in 1000s of hours volunteering for the betterment of our town, province, and country. From helping bring and implement Junior Achievement into Newfoundland, to rallying, organizing and hosting the 1999 Canada Winter Games in Corner Brook, to the incredible amount of dedication dad put into the Knights of Columbus, Rotary and other charities. Over the years, he has raised millions of dollars for many different charities. Dad believed in his community and contributed greatly to creating great memories and opportunities for his fellow Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. This year, he received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Award which honors significant contributions and achievements by Canadians. It was well deserved.
10. Live life on your terms. It doesn’t matter what others think. You’ve got one shot. Make the most of it. You can be, do and have anything you put your mind to. I learned this lesson from dad in several ways. The first was through his actions. Dad lived a life he loved and was proud of it. He enjoyed his career, gave back significantly to his community, loved living half the year in Florida where he would go to ‘work’ on the golf course each morning. He thrived being around his family and friends. While his life was so unfairly taken before his time was up, he did make the most of his time here on earth and lived a richness of love and life like many only dream.
Dad also had many conversations with me, personally, about this topic, particularly as I, the more “free-spirited” child, continually made decisions that took me on the path less traveled. When I started my first business, I had to move into the family home to be able to work full time at it. I remember one specific conversation where I was upset about ‘being “old” and still living with my parents’ and he got very stern and said to me, “You chose a different path, don’t worry about what anyone else says to you. Stay as long as you need. You’re on the right track.” For me, this was a big moment because not only did it make me feel great to have a father who believed in what I was doing, but I also felt like it was having another ‘warrior’ on my team who knew the path less traveled is sometimes a little less desirable in the beginning, but nonetheless worth every second in the end.
My dad was an optimist. He believed that, “What the mind can conceive, it can achieve”. His life is a reflection of this belief as dad met and exceeded countless goals of his own over the course of his lifetime.
I often ponder about the meaning the life and think about how I will feel when I get to my final days. This is not morbid, I think, but proactive; I want to make the most of this journey. I think, at some level, we all like to think that when our time does come, that our life mattered, that the world was better because we were here.
I am so proud to say, “Dad, the world is truly a more remarkable place to be, because you were here. The number of lives you positively impacted and the trickle effect from that can’t even begin to be defined. You mattered. Your life mattered. I’m sure I can speak on behalf of everyone who knew you that we are all deeply grateful to have known you. I love you. We love you. A Whole Big 10.”