Father’s Day is coming up June 16, but what if you don’t have a Father to connect with anymore?
My suggestion is to reach out to another man you respect, someone you’ve learned from, who has gone out of his way for you. Write him a card, give him a hat (doesn’t have to be a fedora), bake him a loaf of bread (yes, I’ve done that), take him to lunch — a hot dog will do fine. Men are people, too.
I learned a lot from my Dad, but I’ve also searched for mentors who came from a different place.
I saw a psychotherapist for 10 years, Herb Cibul, who helped me see my world with a clarity and confidence I did not possess before I started going to him. Herb died several years ago. If he were alive today I would write him a long card to let him know how much he meant to me, and that I am okay.
For over 15 years I also had a brilliant business mentor, Belford Small, a machinery dealer from my father’s era, who gave up the daily grind after his warehouse burned down. He moved from Chicago’s Lake Street to Delray Beach, Florida, and advised a privileged few men on investments, the used machinery business and life.
Bel was a chain smoker, and I could occasionally hear him exhale smoke on the phone, but since almost all of our work was done long distance, it never bothered me.
Bel was incisive and analytical. I felt he could counsel me on every business problem I encountered. I know that my Dad was jealous of the hours I spent with Bel on the phone, but he also knew that Bel understood all of the players in our business and was often crucial in bringing about a consensus among us at Graff-Pinkert.
Bel Small made me feel like I was his special student, not a client. I paid him a consulting fee each year, but he never billed the company. I loved the man, not as a father, not as a therapist, but as a loving teacher and mentor.
I wish I could send him a card for Father’s Day.
I hope everybody who is reading this piece has somebody in their life who fills the role that Herb and Bel did for me, and that my Dad did in a different way. If you do have that person now, maybe take a little time to tell them how much they mean to you.
Question: Tell us about your mentors.
Again, you provide thought provoking topics that touch us all. In response to your two topics, “Your Father’s Day Card” and “Do You Try to Be Like Your Father”, below are topic appropriate excerpts from an article I wrote for a trade association publication. I am happy to share the rest of the article to those who are interested; I did not want to take up your space with the entire piece.
My Father was a smart man. The fact that I idolized him meant that he had my undivided attention and what he said stuck. I learned more from him than I have from anyone else, ever. Being a successful parent and mentor, he provided me with the fundamental basis to begin my own constant and evolving development and maturation process. The good news for me is that he was a quality human being. What he failed to tell me was that if one was to ascribe a numeric value to each moment in the maturation process for the purpose of creating a graph, it would not be a continuous line increasing in value from left to right, it’s a bumpy ride.
The passing of the younger generation’s mentors is inevitable. Life is unpredictable and there are challenging curves thrown directly at us at light’s speed. My father passed away when I was only 25, only giving me a glimpse of a long-term adult business and personal relationship with my most important male mentor. Others in our industry have experienced this of late. Lloyd Ashman and Ron Haas have left their fledgling offspring to fend for themselves in a very entrepreneurial, aggressive and evolving industry. I was fortunate that I was surrounded by good mentors, a great business with reputation second to none and an overwhelming fear of failure balanced with a drive to succeed. It took a long time for me to cease doing things as my Father would have, just because it was the way my Father would have done them. A questioning thought process was actually liberating from the debilitating chains of the emotional entrenchment of unquestioning loyalty to my Father. I now believe he would be much happier knowing I came to my own justifiable conclusions through my own experience based thought guided by a sound moral compass, rather than through mindless and occasionally costly mimicry.
It’s very heart touching ave and much like last year’s writings In that you have an eloquent way with words. I will have the opportunity to know this same feeling again. I’m truly sorry for the fact that you lost your father early in your manhood.
Your sound moral judgement and character is oftentimes what everyone could a whole lot of, to be quite honest. With all of the talk of integrity, conformance, commitment, and the inexcusable keeping your good intention above the selfish properties and ones personal priorities above all else. We are not the generation of steel and it’s hard when the test of me feels out of wack.
My father also passed away when I was relatively young (20). However, he left me with the great gifts of faith and work ethic. I am blessed to still have my mother, who is an incredible inspiration. In our machine tool business, I am forever indebted to two icons of the global high precision industry, Jim Sasanecki and Ryuichi Yabe. They taught me that “Youth has nothing to do with age. It passes only when the desire to learn is lost.”
I’m going to borrow Mr. Harvey’s tribute here. I don’t think he would mind:
A father is a thing that is forced to endure childbirth, without an anesthetic.
A father is a thing that growls when it feels good–and laughs loud when it’s scared half to death.
A father never feels entirely worthy of worship in his child’s eyes. He never is quite the hero his daughter thinks, never quite the man his son believes him to be. This worries him, sometimes, so he works too hard to try and smooth the rough places in the road for those of his own who will follow him.
A father is a thing that gets very angry when school grades aren’t as good as he thinks they should be. He scolds his son although he knows it’s the teacher’s fault.
Fathers grow old faster than other people.
And while mothers can cry where it shows, fathers stand there and beam outside–and die inside. Fathers have very stout hearts, so they have to be broken sometimes or no one would know what is inside. Fathers give daughters away to other men who aren’t nearly good enough so they can have grandchildren who are smarter than anybody’s. Fathers fight dragons almost daily. They hurry away from the breakfast table, off to the arena which is sometimes called an office or a workshop…where they tackle the dragon with three heads: Weariness, Work and Monotony.
Knights in shining armor.
Fathers make bets with insurance companies about who will live the longest. Though they know the odds, they keep right on betting. Even as the odds get higher and higher, they keep right on betting more and more.
And one day they lose.
But fathers enjoy an earthly immortality and the bet is paid off to the part of him he leaves behind.
I don’t know where fathers go when they die. But I have an idea that after a good rest, he won’t be happy unless there is work to do. He won’t just sit on a cloud and wait for the girl he’s loved and the children she bore. He’ll be busy there, too…oiling the gates, smoothing the way.
Thank you for this insightful article. One of the great joys of life is that we are blessed with people besides our parents who can reach us when no one else can. When I think of mentors, the people who come to mind are the friends of my dad’s from the PMPA who always took the time to listen and counsel, no matter the issue, business or personal. The two in particular that had a major impact on my life were Ben Betty of Betty Machine and Ben Bonner of AT&G. Both were prominent and progressive figures in our industry and I will be eternally grateful to have known them. I miss them regularly, along with my dad and I hope to be able to help others the way they helped me.
Lloyd, I have, like many people, always enjoyed your emails with thought provoking topics. I have never actually worked with you but am sure you are a top notch machinery dealer. I do think you missed your calling in life and could give John Kass at the Trib a run for his money! Keep em coming Lloyd!
Lloyd, I opened this on June 6th and thought it would be useful to take a moment and remember the fathers and the fathers yet to be who were on landing craft off the coast of Normandy. Not only did they face the skills and endurance of a determined enemy but they were faced with a capricious nature of weather which was determined to make their landing as difficult as possible. As individuals, they were loaded with everything they thought they would need. They were over loaded a hundred to two hundred pounds. But that was all right because they would pull right up on the beach and wouldn’t even get their feet wet. Having spent two years in combat, I can visualize their optimism. And then the boat hit a shoal and the coxsain ordered get out because now they were sitting duck. And now the yell, “Oh My God, I can’t swim” Get out! Get Out! for some of the over loaded, it made no difference if they couldn’t swim. Some got dragged to safety at great risk and the rest, that’s war. This is D Day. Salute the Fathers and Wannbe Fathers who didn’t get the chance.
To John Jack Frost,
You are the memory for the living. Thank you.