The Top 5 Things I Learned From My Dad

Dylan Stewart

Editor’s Note: As part of the Father’s Day series of articles, pictures and videos, Mr. Stewart of the Southwest Region of Mentor Discover Inspire, offers his top lessons his father provided him. May Dylan lead us all to realize the greatness of his legacy as he passes what is worthy down to his son Christian.

Chase Your Dreams

My father fought for his dreams.  He worked hard for them, and cultivated them.  He didn’t let anyone tell him what he should be doing with his life. He didn’t follow his father into a career selling insurance.  Even when the chips were down, and the possibility of never seeing that dream realized felt like a reality, he still fought for his dreams and discovered them.  He showed me that you can love what you do for a living, and bring your whole heart into it.

I have always striven to live a life of following my dreams as well, and I hope to instill it in my children. Your dreams are amazing.  Don’t give up just because things are challenging you. Find a way to keep that dream alive… even if it’s just in a small way.

Stay Young at heart

My father lights up every room.  His sense of humor, his childlike sense of wonder, his horrible jokes and his smile have always been infectious.  There was a joy for life, and a fun that he embodied that was impossible to ignore or avoid.  He smiled often, and brought others into his joy.

I have always prided myself on learning this lesson although in truth it took me longer than I would like to admit.  I was always the “serious” one until I finally got how silly life was.  My Dad taught me that.  It doesn’t mean to fight getting old in body… but to keep that twinkle of joy in your eye.  The world needs more joy.

Put the Oxygen Mask on Yourself First

My Dad taught me to be responsible, work hard, and take care of the people in your life who needed you. But always take care of yourself first. If you didn’t take care of yourself, you couldn’t properly take care of anyone else.

It’s always been one of the hardest lessons for me to put into common practice, but’s important that you strive to take care of yourself … eat well, exercise, minimize your stress, and  remember to slow down and breathe. The better you take care of yourself, the longer you get to take care of others.

Family Matters

It took me two bad life decisions where I almost lost my family to really realize what my father’s greatest legacy will always be.  Love your family.  They’re not perfect, but neither are you.  Do what you have to do to keep them together.  My father kept a strong relationship with two of his ex-wives, and they were all part of the family.  That would have never happened without him.

And when family was in trouble, that always took precedence, and he would drop whatever he was doing to help in whatever way he could.  Your family is important, make sure they know it.  Tell them often.  Do what you have to do to keep your family together, because we all need family when the going gets rough.

Feel Your Feelings

A lot of my friends had fathers that seemed emotionless. Brick walls that you would never see smile or frown … and crying was completely out of the question.  But not my Dad.  Born with his heart on his sleeve, it was literally harder to stop him from crying.  Riding to school in the mornings, a song would come on and he would burst into tears… every morning.  He felt his feelings and he felt them to his core. He was unashamed of how he felt, and was never to shy to cry if the feeling hit him.

It took me most of my life to be OK with my feelings.  It was one of my greatest accomplishments when I finally broke down the wall of my emotions and let them all wash over me. My Dad showed me what it could look like to truly feel. And it was beautiful. Feel those feelings. Some of them are hard, but all of them are valuable.  Don’t hide from them or avoid them, rather seek to understand them and the lessons they have for you.

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