Parents are our first mentors and teachers who guide us in our everyday life. I was one of the lucky ones to have what society tells us is a “normal” family dynamic. Both a mother and father who raised me into the person I am today. I’ve had my fair share of talking about my mom. Talking about my Dad is a temperamental subject. Sometimes it’s something I only want to discuss, and others an out of bounds discussion. But when I reflect on my father as a person and all that he left me with, it’s all positive. I can’t help but smile and think about the lessons he taught me, whether he knew it was his doing or not. Here’s some that are worth referring to.

1. Hard work will go a long way

When it comes to your job the best thing quality is to outdo others. I don’t mean that in a competitive, must get employee of the month way. I mean in the sense that everyone should learn to go the extra mile in fulfilling the job that you do. When you are the one person who is dedicated to working harder than others, it shows and allows others to respect you and admire your work ethics. But don’t do it for the pleasure of self-satisfaction. That’s just an egotistical mistake, and defeats the purpose.

2. You don’t have to like anyone, but you have to respect everyone

Sure my dad loathed a few people here and there. If you did him wrong, he didn’t give you the time of day. And if you really did him dirty he ignored your existence as a human. But if you hadn’t done anything personal but were just an unlikable person, he still gave you the respect you deserved. A common topic of conversation was that I wouldn’t like everyone I come into contact with. In fact I’ll always have someone who rubs me the wrong way or pushes my buttons. And although I may not be a fan of them, it is still important as an ethical human being to give them the respect that they deserve. This lesson here has taken me a long way in life.

3. Books smart is great, but street smart is better

I’m in college for crying out loud, of course I think an education is important. But when it comes to common sense and being able to fend for myself in life, that’s what’s going to get me farther. How many times have you seen the most genius of people that can’t do the simplest of tasks? The balance between the two will make for an easier lifestyle. Unfortunately, most people lack one topic and not the other.

4. If you wanna stay up with the owls you gotta soar with the eagles

Okay, so this is a cliché way to say “work hard, play hard.” But there are some good points. For each time that I want to be irresponsible and have fun, I better make sure I have my $*@# together before or get it together afterwards. Sure there’s been numerous times I’ve neglected the important stuff and been irresponsible. Never did me any good though.

5. Shake someone’s hand like you give a damn

A handshake is the first impression you can give someone. If you have a gimpy handshake people won’t take you seriously. It’s a known fact. So in order to get the respect out of anyone from a new acquaintance you met, to the boss who’s interviewing you for your dream job, you better damn well make sure that grip is a good one.

6. There’s a country song for everything

The most important thing to know about country music is that every song tells a story. EVERY. SONG. And for every story, there is every emotion. When in doubt, sadness, happiness, anything, put on a country song and your heart and soul will thank you.

7. George Strait is King

Speaking of country music, it all fathers down to the one and only George Strait. THE King of country music. I guess this is a personal preference but something my father passed down to me. There’s no way I can listen to this man and not smile thinking of all the memories my old man gave me because of the shared interest in these songs and lyrics.

8. The Cowboys are America’s team

I’ll probably get a lot of eye rolls on this one. But come on. They’ve had that tagline since the beginning of the creation of the team. I must say I get a little teary-eyed whenever I see that blue start anywhere against a white background. It’s a beautiful representation of America and football alike.

9. Extra-curricular activities will keep you out of trouble

Some of the best advice he gave me was his stories of playing sports and how that meant he didn’t have time to get caught up in drugs and drinking in high school and college. Although I myself was never an athlete, I found satisfaction in other forms of extra curricula’s and I too didn’t’ have time to get caught up in anything bad. Like father, like daughter right?

10. Life is too short. Enjoy it

Possibly the greatest life lesson he’s taught me to this day. We’re never given a timer or even an estimate to how much time we have on Earth. If we did, we probably wouldn’t live it right, or live it the way we were meant to. Losing my father at age 14 taught me that I may have so much life ahead of me, but I surely don’t have enough time to reach the potential of life to those years. I will never stop enjoying my life even through the rough patches. Life is whatever I choose for it to be and no one can create or fix my future like I can.

So thanks, Dad. Some of these lessons were given to me from a young age. And some of them were given even when you were gone. Although we are the only ones who can learn from our lessons and mistakes, it’s nice and helpful to know that I had a little bit of an up with your expertise and years of experience.