Milleniallifecoach

Work Wisdom From a Father

The title is misleading. I have actually picked work wisdom and lessons from more than one father. This train of thought came from my current read, The Richest Man in Babylon by George Clason. Last week I mentioned the gist of the book and the main character, Arkhad’s contribution to his country through his quest for wealth. As the book continues, there is a chapter on Akhard’s son and his own journey of creating wealth. The trend at the time was that children of wealthy people would live with their parents who had built huge estates and just wait for their inheritance. To be honest, that’s not an alien concept today either. Arkhad, the wise man that he was, summoned his son and told him that he knows the practice but that’s not how he wants to play it. He tells him to prove that he can be trusted to take over and sustain the estate, gives him a bag of gold, a stone tablet with the 5 laws of gold and ten years to go figure. Sayo nara!

He also gave back two bags of gold in return for the wisdom of the tablet as it was way more useful than even the bag of gold.

So the son goes away, makes his mistakes but motivated by his father’s desire for him to succeed, he remembers to dig up the stone tablet. As he gives the report on his return, he points out that had he dug up that tablet before his losses, he would have had a lot less suffering. Thankfully, he had a few last coins to salvage and slowly grew his fortune with guidance from the rules his father had given him. On his return, he gave back his father a bag of gold in return for the one he had received. He also gave back two bags of gold in return for the wisdom of the tablet as it was way more useful than even the bag of gold. The son’s more valuable treasure was his father’s wisdom over and above the estate.

Covid has brought up a lot of discussions about wealth and sustainability. My pain point in all the discussions on wealth is the debate on why Africans, well black Africans, don’t build generational wealth. The trainwreck of our local supermarket giants is a huge spotlight to so many things that we are doing wrong. It seems we build to eat and not to sustain, the barest consideration is given to our legacy and the next generation. We see bad leadership only thinking of me and mine forgetting that the future holds a lot more than that, and nothing that they can control. To slightly counter this argument on it being an African thing, I came across a documentary on the demise of the Gucci family. It was so ironic that everything went to hell with the folly of one son and the ambition of another. I am looking for more footage to see if their daughters ever spoke up but there was clearly a break in the wisdom inheritance plan down the line. Or think of the Getty family legacy I wrote in an earlier piece (turns out I didn’t but I think I will). The father’s role and ability to impact generations or erase a legacy in one cannot be ignored.

Reading this section of the book reminded me of the other day; I was in a discourse with a few people and we were talking about our families and one person asked who is the black sheep. Both my partner and I pointed out that we are the black sheep in our families, to which she retorted “Then the rest of your family must be extremely amazing if this is the standard of a black sheep”. We laughed. But seriously, my parents are not perfect but they did something right. My partner’s too. So I sat with my partner and thought of the ways that our fathers specifically have contributed to the people we are today. There will be a day for a mother’s impact but the father is where my head is at today.

He is an IT Consultant in a generation whose majority still needs help with WhatsApp and has run his own business for over 20 years.

My partner went to boarding school early in life and they didn’t spend as much time together as a family as mine did. When we first met, they were not that close though I was fascinated by the fact that his father, as African as could be, would sign off messages with “I love you”. The irony is that my partner, of the supposedly enlightened generation, is the shy one when it comes to saying the same to his father. However, when my partner started his business, his father sat him down and had a heart to heart with him on the struggles of business and the path that he has now gotten on. You see, his father is an outlier in his generation. He is an IT Consultant in a generation whose majority still needs help with WhatsApp and has run his own business for over 20 years. He gets entrepreneurship.

In the years that my partner has run his business, his father has been eagerly on standby for any advice, consultation or just a listening session as needed. I remember this one time, my partner was very frustrated by a client who seemed to be nocturnal and would call and text at the oddest of hours. When venting to his father, his father pulled him close and solemnly scolded him on his rants, telling him that it was his duty to understand and provide for a client’s needs regardless of the eccentricity of the request. Though they did not fully agree on how to deal with this thought process on customer service, that discourse did give him a sober perspective into client service. Their relationship has grown significantly in the last few years and you can see the mutual respect growing every day. From an outsider perspective too, you can feel the difference with that healthy father-son relationship.

He has told me many times that a man does not complete me or is superior to me but that we can and should work together and that is how I would succeed.

On the other hand, my father has many daughters. It is only natural that emotional discussions were the norm in our house. My father had this ritual that before joining university, he would have “The Husband Talk” with us. He explained that your degree is your first husband, you do not marry the second without finishing the first. A common saying between him and my mother was that no one can take away what’s in your head. And they made us read, which explains a lot. He really told me that men will lie to me but that if I must find love while working towards my first husband, he must be a man that will support me and help me grow. He always used his own example of how he took care of the first three daughters so that my mother could get her degree abroad; if he could make that big a sacrifice, so must the man that his daughter deserves. He has told me many times that a man does not complete me or is superior to me but that we can and should work together and that is how I would succeed.

There is something powerful in the person who gave you life being able to speak life into you.

My inheritance is no major estate or riches to keep me comfortable and make me take work for granted. My inheritance is priceless, the wisdom from my father is a gem and an indescribable heirloom. I share it with as many people as I meet for those who did not get to hear this. He has major imperfections, but my father will still call and encourage me without knowing that I needed to hear it. There is something powerful in the person who gave you life being able to speak life into you. The good book says to seek out wisdom for it will not bring itself to you. Yet it has, in the shape of a loving father. Depending on whether you are the father or the child, I hope you grow into giving it or receiving it.

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