Leadership Skills: Here's Dad's Memorial Top 10 List
Editor - CoolAvenues | November 25,2013 04:27 pm IST
Leadership Skill # 1 : Build It Strong
Dad would always build things more sturdy than they needed to be so that he would never have to worry when an extraordinary force was applied. He knew that whatever he built would stand up to the test.
This applied to both character traits and real hammer and nail construction. In fact, without his insistence on this leadership trait, I would not be here today.
When I was 16 years old a drunk driver doing nearly 100 mph (161 kmph) ran his car off the road smashing it into the corner of our living room. I was the only one in the room when it exploded around me. Had this been a normally built house the car would have burst thru the wall and killed me.
Leadership Skill # 2 : Don't Take Short Cuts
Dad was an electrician by trade. When doing his wiring he would always route the flat wires he worked with in a nice symmetrical and evenly spaced pattern. He would never just cut across the shortest distance to save wire and make his costs a little cheaper. I remember as a child watching him and asking him why he did this when it would be a lot shorter to just run the wires directly between two points. He said, "When someone looks at this job years from now they will know that a professional did it and also, if they ever have trouble, they will be able to track down the problem easier because I did a nice neat job."
I can't remember dad ever being out of work one day in my whole life. When everyone else was laid-off, he was always in demand.
Leadership Skill # 3 : Don't Waste Things Or People
Think a rock isn't worth much? Read on. At the age of 73 dad was purchasing some used lumber that someone had advertised in the paper. When he went to pick it up he saw a large number of boulders in the front yard of the place where he bought the lumber. He asked what they were going to do with the boulders. The man said, "I just want to get them out of here." Dad spent two weeks hauling them back to our house and another two months cutting them up with a chisel and a hammer. He then built a beautiful stone fireplace and chimney for one of our rental properties.
Also, I can't tell you the number of nails I removed from used lumber that dad made me straighten and use over again. I still do it to this day. A bent nail with a little help can be very useful again. Sometimes people also need a little help to do the job they were meant to do.
Leadership Skill # 4 : Be Self Reliant
Working as a team is great, but when the team isn't there you just don't sit down and wait for help. Dad built pretty much every building and rental property we own. I remember being so busy with football and other activities that I didn't get to help him too much (I probably would have slowed him down anyway). One day while he was working on remodeling one of our buildings he asked me to go to the automotive parts store to get him about 20 feet of clear gas line tubing and several bottles of Coca Cola. I wondered what he was up to because he never drank Coke and our car was working fine.
I came back with the tubing and the Coke and stood back and watched as he did his thing. He plugged one end of the tubing and started pouring Coke in the other end (I was sure he had lost his mind after spending three months building the chimney). He said, "When you boys aren't around it's hard for me to make things level because I can't be at both ends of these long 2x4s. So I'm going to nail one end of this tubing on one end of where I'm working and take the other end of the tubing with me to the other end of the board.
He knew from his self-taught physics studies that liquids seek their own level. He could see through the clear tubing to the Coca Cola inside. The level of the Coke on one end of the tubing would be exactly the same level as at the other end of the tubing and that's where he would nail his board and it was always perfectly level.
Leadership Skill # 5 : Study
Dad only went to the 5th grade and that was after skipping two grades, so he really only had three years of formal education. At ten years old (the oldest boy with father deceased) he was head of his household and shining shoes to support the family. He saved part of his tips and ordered an electrical engineering course from the American School. At 13 he had his own electrical contracting company and installed the first electric light in Carnegie PA. He also bought his younger sister the first electric washing tub in Bridgeville, PA.