My dad has all these pithy little sayings that he repeats on occasion. You need to keep in mind that this is a guy with a unique and educated sense of humor–everything he said would be delivered with a twinkle in his eye. Perhaps that is his Irish ancestry shining through? Every once in a while, I’ll find myself repeating them to other people or I’ll be telling people about something my dad once told me. I wanted to save them all in once place–enjoy.
“Marriage is a 50/50 proposition. You just gotta recognize your 50% when it comes along.”
“Everyone carries their own little bag of garbage around.” –he’s actually quoting a friend here
“Measure twice, cut once.”
“In all likelihood, engineers have done more to extend human lifespan than doctors.”
“You need to be able to string together 20 to 100 good decisions in a row. Making a big mistake 1 out of 5 times ain’t gonna cut it.”
“Debt is a cruel master.”
“Always live below your means.” My parents were quite devout, but next to their religion, they demonized debt and fanaticized financial responsibility too. More importantly, how to achieve financial success. Their favorite person to push on us was Dave Ramsey and his 10 Baby Steps. His steps are easy for anyone to follow; and we still proudly follow his framework even now. Financial success doesn’t necessarily mean being RICH–it means being free from debt, risk, and dependency.
“There are two types of fun. Type 1 fun is like roller coasters and video games—which have immediate gratification and feel great while you’re doing them. Type 2 fun is like climbing a mountain or running a marathon. They sometimes suck while you’re doing them, but once you’ve done it, you’re really glad you did.” This is actually a quote from my Uncle, but he and my dad are so similar, it would certainly be something dad would say.
On Being Polite
“Always be a diplomat.”
“An armed society is a polite society.”
“Manners are the lubricant that makes civilized life possible.”
“Try to always leave this world a little better than you found it.”
“Don’t let other people set your agenda.”
When I didn’t want to do my homework, he’d say “the more time you spend complaining about your homework, the less time you have to go and do something fun.”
“You and Bill Gates have the same 168 hours in a week. How will you spend yours?”
“Your job is to make your boss’s job easier.” What he means by this is, even if your job title is say, a designer, and designers make websites and pretty graphics, those tasks are mostly irrelevant because you were actually hired to fill a need for your company or boss, and if that means takings on different responsibilities, then do it.
Which leads to his next saying “Make yourself un-replacable.”
“Show up early, stay late, and do the work that no one else wants to do.”
“Do all you’ve agreed to do.”
“90% of success is just showing up.”
“Time = money.”
“If you’re early, you’re on time. If you’re on time, you’re late. If you’re late, you’re forgotten.” He didn’t say this one all the time, but I do remember him saying it at least once; and for some reason it always stuck.
“My right to swing my fist ends at the tip of your nose.” (Of course not original to my dad, but he is big on liberty and small government)
My dad enjoys topics such as finance, economics, and politics, so usually when we have family discussions around certain subjects, these are saying that come up sometimes. He usually means them in the ironic sense. Think “Murphy’s Law”, “toast always lands buttered side down”, etc.
- “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”
- “Beware of the law of unintended consequences.”
- “No good deed goes unpunished.”
“I don’t read news, I read ideas.”
On Raising Kids
“Behavior that you subsidize, you get more of. Behavior that you penalize you get less of”. While this is a saying for the study of economics in general, he always used to say this to us in regards to raising us. He would reward us when we did something good, and punish us when we did something bad. To clarify, “punish” was never cruel or unsusual, think in terms of “time outs” or “being grounded”. Rewards were always ample and diverse, sometimes praise, other times money or a valuable good–sometimes all three. By the time we were adults, we knew what was expected of us.
“Raising kids is a lot like training a dog.”
“Be coachable.” He would always say this to us when we weren’t listening, following instructions, or being generally stubborn. After all, who wants to coach a kid on their team that is being a pain in the ass? It’s a good life lesson to be a team player.
Things I’ve Started Saying
I of course, repeat all of my dad’s sayings to people, which is why I am remembering them here. But everyone once in a while I am come up with some “general good advice” that I want to add to his.
“If you read something or hear something that makes you feel afraid, angry, or rushed you should be instantly skeptical of it.”
“‘I don’t know’ can be a carefully considered answer to a question, just like ‘yes’ or ‘no’ can.”
“Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.”
“Be a listener first, a thinker second and a speaker last.” or “Read, think, write”
“Honesty is the best policy.”
“Actions speak louder than words.”
“Sort yourself out, clean your room, slay the dragon.” which is related to, “Before you go trying to save the world, think about how you can improve yourself.”
“I know that I know nothing.”
“Comparison is the thief of joy.”
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