A blog to acknowledge those who should have been acknowledged and thanked more appropriately before, and to possibly help you in your lives and career by provoking thought, reflection and reading material that might well alter your career and life. If it prompts you to contemplate and acknowledge those in your life, even better.

The Formative Years (Part 1)

As I continue my acknowledgements of people in my life who have made a demonstrable difference in blog format, I should, and will obviously start with my mother and father. (Eileen and Paul Spuller) I learned a great deal from both of them, and I truly did not understand many of the lessons until it was too late to tell my mother as she passed away in 1988 nearing the age of nearly 63, ironically slightly younger than my current age.

To my dear mother, I wish I had told her how I admired her ability to get to the heart of an issue through questioning & persistence. Her unique ability to simplify things and attack the weak or opportunistic targets first was a skill set I am glad that I inherited without knowing. I am reminded of two specific instances in my life (one of which I will address now, and the other in a later discussion or blog), all of which were in the early years or pre business, but the lessons continued to be instrumental in business life as well. The first was in little league baseball when my coach made me split playing time with his son (now ironically enough my brother in law) who also wanted to play second base. My mother after listening to me grumble about losing playing time asked me a clear and precise question- “is it the playing time or the position that concerns you the most?”-  My response was and still is- I just wanted to play- my mother’s simple retort, but yet spot on was “what position does no one want to play?”- That is the story of how I became a catcher. Now to make this a great story (but wildly inaccurate) I would tell you I was actually good (which I wasn’t) but that is not the point. It was however the basis for how I approached life, and business moving forward from that point. Attack or attach where the competitors will not be.

My father, a WWll Veteran who was stationed in the Pacific Theater, taught me to tackle the things you don’t want to do 1st, always do the right thing, and always, and I do mean always work harder than the next person because in his mind that made up for many flaws. My father is still living at near 95, and I was able to at least let him know how much I admired his work ethic, and the grounding I inherited about doing the right things even when it is painful to do them.  At the time I was being taught these lessons I can assure you that 1) I didn’t care much for them; and 2) I had no clue what an impact they might have on my life. Here I am 40+ years deep in my careers and I can honestly tell you that I have never lost a job, a tournament or an opportunity because I was out worked. Further I have never been disciplined or lost a job because I didn’t work hard enough. For that I am forever grateful as regardless of the success level achieved, or not achieved, it is very fulfilling to have done much better than the experts would have deemed possible with the skill sets I possessed. There always have been skeptics or self-appointed critics, so the ability to preserver through hard work has always served me and others well.

A strong work ethic, doing what is right, doing the difficult things first all while continuing to question with a huge dose of persistence are some of the primary things that I was given without knowing what a huge role they would play in my life and career. Along the line of questioning, he advocated, without saying, that a healthy dose of observation instead of just listening was an admirable trait. I can still hear him saying “believe none of what you hear and half of what you see” and you will be better off in the long run. I learned to understand over time he was talking about himself as well as others. Later on in life I became fond of the phrase “what you do speaks so loudly I cannot hear what you say”. In today’s political and business environment, voters and employees would do well to learn to filter through the eyes of my father. Your actions (my actions) speak far louder than any voice might offer.

When I started this exercise I said there would be several “asks” and I will leave you with one specific ask or request now- if your parents are still living, pick out the things you are grateful they taught you (intentional or not), and tell them as pointedly as you can how much you value the lesson taught whether they were by design, intentional, planned or not.

If you know of someone who has made a difference in your life, take the time to tell them now, and do not wait to too late or to “blog it” later in life. (Sensing a theme?????)

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