I’ve written about my dad before, but because it was just Father’s Day, I felt it appropriate to honor him. I am lucky enough to still have the present to spend with my father, and would love to share with the world some of the lessons he has taught me which I have applied in my life and my work. But before I do, let me just share a little bit about him. If you have been following me, you may have already read the post about my dad, my hero. If you haven’t had a chance to read it, here’s the link in case you want to hear why I think he’s the most awesome person in this world.
My dad is quite the interesting guy. If you spoke to him over the phone, you wouldn’t know that you were speaking to an Asian man on the other end. His English is impeccable. Before Vietnam was taken over by the Communists, my dad had the opportunity to study abroad in Texas where he learned to speak English. Even though he was in the seminary studying to be a priest, when he met my mom, all bets were off. While he loves my mom dearly, music is his true love. He could sing and play music with his friends all day if he wanted to. In fact, when he comes to visit me in Texas, he always goes to hang out with a local composer friend and they spend all day composing new songs or improving current ones. It makes me smile to think that now that he is retired, he can do whatever he wants, whenever he wants.
I watched my dad work his tail off to provide my siblings and I this wonderful life. Like my mom, he has sacrificed so much and literally risked his life to provide for his children the opportunity of an education and a future. There are so many lessons I have learned and it would take me months to write them all out. Here are just my top 3:
- Simple is Beautiful: There are 3 boys and 3 girls in our family. We all had to share 1 bathroom. It sucked. It sucked royally, especially when I was a 6th grader and big poofy hair was the hottest new trend. I needed lots of time (and Aqua Net hairspray) in the bathroom – time which seemed to not exist when you had to share it with so many people! Whenever I would complain or we would be running late because we had to get our poofs just right, he would say, “Simple is beautiful!” Of course, when I was a young tween, I thought I knew everything and was smarter than my parents, so my response would be an eye roll. But as I got older, that phrase would pop into my head more often than I cared for. I realized that I could apply this lesson to other aspects of my life, other than just styling my hair in the morning. I was so overwhelmed with overthinking everything, and in my late 20’s I would hear that darned phrase all the time. Simple is beautiful. This time, I decided to listen. I started to do things like lay out my clothes the morning before so that I wasn’t scrambling to figure out what to wear the morning of. I began the practice of prepping my meals on Sunday and pre-cook most of it so that meal planning would be easier for the rest of the week. I saw the value of scheduling in my appointments with my team members and clients so that it worked around MY schedule, not the other way around. I used to overthink so many decisions, from what to eat at a restaurant, what color shirt to buy because I wanted all 6 of the same design, where to go on vacation, what job I should apply for … and all it did was stress me out. So many of us are so stuck inside our own heads that it feels like there’s no way out. I already had enough stress in my life, why add more to it? Simple is beautiful to me means, just make things easier for yourself! Stop overthinking, over complicating and simplify your life so that you can start truly focusing on what matters, specifically making choices that would make YOU happy. The rest doesn’t matter, so just let it go (cue to the start of the song “Let It Go” (Frozen)).
- Give and You Will Get Back 10 Fold in Return: As you know, my dad loves music, but he also is passionate about helping others. His whole life has been to make a difference in people’s lives whether it is financially or through helping them get resettled in the United States. He was a refugee, and had it not been through the help of a wonderful, generous loving sponsor family (The Jankowski’s who were refugees themselves), what I know as my life today would be very different. I probably would have been born in a small town in Vietnam instead of Minnesota. I wouldn’t know how to speak English or may not have been able to attend school because my dad would have been jailed or killed for fighting against the communists alongside the US army. That would have left my mom alone as a single mom to raise 6 kids by herself. What a depressing life I would have led. But because of my father’s bravery, he changed the trajectory of our future. The Vietnamese people in Minnesota are well aware of who my dad is. Most likely he has helped them or one of their relatives sponsor a family member over to the United States, or he has helped them find housing or jobs in their first few months in the US. He was and still is on his phone day and night with phone calls from people asking for advice, for his services or just to thank him. But he loves what he does, that even after retirement, he helps people in this area, free of charge. My dad doesn’t care about money, nor has he ever made more than enough to pay for our private school tuition. Now in his retirement years, he is enjoying a nice life, debt free and the freedom, health and independence to go where he wants, when he wants and spend his money on anyone and anything. Also, with 6 kids, he’d never go without. We will always have his back, just like he has always had ours.
- Just Do It And Worry About It Later: My father was famous for his spontaneity when it came to money matters. It annoyed my mom horribly. She was always about saving – every.single.penny. I am sure that is where some of my scarcity money stories started, but that is a topic for another blog post. My father was always about spending and living in the moment. At first, I saw it as reckless. Why would he spend his money on that? Why would he spend so MUCH money on that? WHY DID HE KNOCK DOWN THE WALL OF THE BEDROOM?? Yes, leave it to my dad to surprise everyone! But the thing is, it all worked out. It ALWAYS did! If he didn’t like it or decided he didn’t need it or my mom demanded that he send it back, he returned it. If he knocked down a wall or many walls (which has happened), he’d rebuild it. And he did. Do it first, and apologize later. I think that has been his life motto. My father never worried about the consequences of spending money or changing something up. There was always a response – “Oh, we can worry about that later.” I smile and think about how carefree he was and still is. Can you imagine just being able to purchase a product or service and not worry about the stress of being in debt or how much it will cost you in terms of how many months you will need to just live on ramen noodles or rice and beans? In terms of my life, I apply this lesson to my business decisions and family trips. If there’s a new project I want to work on, I don’t think about the “how”. I just do it and worry about the rest later. That’s how I started my home based business. I had no idea what I was doing. I just knew I wanted residual income and I jumped in with both feet. I learned as I earned and eventually replaced an entire salary. It’s the same with planning trips. There’s no such thing as “One day, I’ll be able to travel to …” Nope. If I want to go, I look up the flight, make sure everyone’s schedules are open and I book it. What about the money? That’s the beauty of a home-based business. When you have that passive income, you also have the ability to grow it. Stop worrying about what you cannot control. Just do it anyway.
I consider myself lucky because my dad is still alive and well. I can’t describe to you the depth of love and respect I have for him. There is nothing he wouldn’t do for his children, even to this day. He is someone who has made an impact on thousands of lives and that list continues to grow. Thank you dad for all the life lessons you’ve taught me. I am so grateful for this time I still have with you. I love you.