Last week my Dad passed away. We were lucky as a family to be by his bedside when he passed, and it was a peaceful ending for him. We cared for him in his later years and we have no regrets. I am back to work this week and reflecting on his legacy, three things spring to mind immediately.
He left school at 16 with no formal qualifications, emigrated to England for a short, like many did in the fifties, and worked on the buses. Then at 19 his parents died within a year and he returned home to take over the family farm as the only son. It was not his passion but, in his generation, it was his duty to work the family farm that had been passed down to him. Dad had so many more skills and talents that he never fully got to explore. He always impressed upon me to explore, see the world and never feel limited by the paradigms of family tradition. My career journey led me to experience many different roles and ultimately, find and follow my passion. Thanks Dad.
When I hit a crisis in my career at 40, unemployed for the first time in my life, I went to Dad looking for financial help for the first time. I had never asked him for money, as he had taught me to always find my own way. This time it was different, I really needed help. We had a mortgage and a young daughter and cash was running out. I shared my hard luck story with him and his reply was straightforward, “You got yourself into this John, get yourself out of it!” His reply maddened me… I couldn’t lodge his career advice into any bank. Did he not understand my situation!?! Of course he did, but he was testing my resilience. Dad always gave me challenges to test me; this was another one – when I didn’t need it. All I needed was money to get by.
It taught me a valuable life lesson. It fired me up to become even more resolute in achieving my career goals. I was going to succeed no matter what, there was no place to hide now. I just had to do it and his advice was the birthing of our business today, Harmonics. This experience gave me the resilience required to set up a new business and more since. I know I have that resilience now to face tough situations again in the future. Thanks Dad.
He was very well read on many topics and seemed to be always halfway through a book that was lying on the kitchen table. He also loved to write and had such beautiful handwriting. He expressed his love of writing by penning a weekly column on rural life in a local newspaper under a pseudonym. I only discovered he wrote these columns a few years ago. He never said anything about them as he never wanted to attract attention. He was a great man for the parish and the community. He wrote weekly notes for our parish Knockainey in the local papers (the Limerick Leader and Vale Star); sharing the local community news and an account of the local GAA games for all age groups, including who played well and who scored. He devoted much of his life to his community and making it a better place.
Today, he would love to see me signing 150 copies of my book “Future Proof Your Career” for dispatch to a corporate client to accompany my talk on “How to become Ready for the Future of Work”. He was so proud that his son got to write a book. He knew it was something I wanted to achieve in my lifetime. I was proud to have been able to share a copy of the book with him before he died.
If there something in you that you want to achieve, my advice is just do it and have no regrets. Dad had almost full hearing loss in his later years, but he could read and write. We had to write everything down in order to communicate to him. If I were to write something down for you now Dad, it would simply be “Thanks Dad”.
John Fitzgerald is the Founder of the Harmonics Group, author of ‘Future Proof Your Career’ and speaker on the Future of Work. Harmonics specialises in helping organisations plan for change, manage change and support their people through change.