Lessons from my father

Seems only fair I should post about my dad on Father's Day. Many of you know he was a career Marine, and in his second career, an engineering and maintenance manager. Always, he was a leader of people.

I got my best career advice from Daddy, in very succinct terms:

1. (Upon my developing an ulcer at age 19.) "Don't get ulcers, give them." 

2. (Upon my freaking out at being shipped directly from my dorm room at Notre Dame to my first Navy assignment at NAS Cubi Point without the benefit of any sort of officer school.) "Okay. You are not going to know what you are doing. You have to find a chief (senior NCO in the Navy), explain your situation, and put your trust in him. The right chief will show you everything you need to know about being an officer." 

3. (Upon receiving new orders.) "Choose very carefully the first time you get mad in public at a new command. You can only do it once, and you want to do it in such a way that no one ever wants to make you mad again."

4. (Upon getting orders to the Pentagon) "Oh, honey. I am sorry. I don't think you are going to like it."

But his best advice came at point when I was at my lowest. When I was 28, a medical condition I had been fighting for a couple years accelerated to the point that I was boarded out of the Navy for medical reasons. During this acceleration, I suddenly lost all the hearing in my right ear. I was sick, deaf, and frantically sending out resumes while holding down 12-hour shifts on the Navy's national newsdesk at the Pentagon. One morning, around 10:30, the main newsdesk number rang and I answered (because Steve Mavica and I were the only newsdesk officers who would answer the phone - I am still cranky about this 14 years later). I heard a very familiar voice: "Hi, honey, this is your Daddy."

You have to know my father never calls anyone he doesn't have to. I have inherited my hatred of the telephone from him. So I am pretty surprised to hear from him as he asks how I am feeling and how the job hunt is going. He gets a flood of frustration, uncertainty and anger back from me. He pauses, and says, "You know, I think you should just focus on being a good person right now. You have so much going for you, whatever you do next will be exciting." He hung up shortly after that.

I've never been afraid of my condition or my future since that call. And, Daddy, I am still trying.