Thanks, Dad. You taught me well.

My father’s birthday was a couple of days ago. He would have been 91. He died in an auto accident nearly ten years ago. He’s been on my mind a lot this week.

As a young boy, I remember the bookshelf in his office. It was filled with books from Norman Vincent Peale, Og Mandino, Dale Carnegie, and Earl Nightingale. For you youngsters, these were all great motivational writers from the 1950s and ’60s who stressed the importance of positive attitudes in all areas of life. My dad was in sales and marketing in one form or fashion his entire life. He had the most positive attitude of anyone I have ever known.

I couldn’t have been more than 12 or 13 when he insisted I read books by the above-referenced authors. I tried to understand terms like enthusiasm, persistence, dedication. That’s not exactly the subject matter young boys are interested in. I remember sitting in the living room with him, trying to talk to me about the importance of always having a positive attitude.  I remember him speaking about how things would happen in life that we can control, and things will happen that we cannot control. “No matter how bad it gets,” he used to say, “never give up your dream.” Many years later, I once watched him in a courtroom where a judge ruled, in a big way, against his company. He looked at me, shrugged his shoulders, and said, “it’s only money; we can make more.” In the best of times, he was humble. In the worst of times, he was positive. He had faith in God and in his own ability to succeed, and he did.

I got to looking at some of the books from those long-ago days. As I was looking through names and titles, I found myself going back in time 50+ years to our conversations on the living room couch. I’m once again reminded that some things never change.

Earl Nightingale’s works were my favorite. I’ve enjoyed being reacquainted with his books this week. I found a few quotes that apply to us all.

One of my favorites is, “We all walk in the dark. Each of us must learn to turn on his own light”. That resonates with me. While the darkness of grief may not have been what he was referring to, it certainly applies.

I know from reading many of your posts that some dear brothers are in dark places these days.  I hope and pray that you find your light. Light can come in many different things and forms, but it’s out there. Don’t stop looking for it.

My other Nightingale favorite is “Learn to enjoy every minute of your life. Be happy now! Don’t wait for something outside of yourself to make you happy in the future. Think how precious time is. Enjoy and savor every minute.” That friend says it all. Words written over 50 years ago are more important today than ever.

People often tell me they’re proud of how positive I am and how well I am doing in this life journey. I appreciate their sentiments and now really appreciate those long-ago conversations on the living room couch with my father.

Thanks, dad! I guess I was listening.


Jim Winner’s thoughts can be viewed here every other Thursday.


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