My dad is my hero.
He is my hero for the choices he made that limited his career trajectory.
My dad is one of the smartest, kindest, funniest, and most thoughtful people I know. He has at least one advanced degree (maybe two), including an MBA, and is whom I credit with teaching me to be a critical thinker. He role models authenticity, integrity, and accountability. He would have made an incredible leader for any team and business—people love him and listen to him and follow his example.
But he was not a leader—definitely not a senior leader, and I don’t think he was ever a manager of people. Why not? Because at that time (the 70s-90s) at his company (very hierarchical and patriarchal), to be promoted meant you sacrificed your personal life for the job.
He was offered a big promotion in the 80s. That promotion would have moved us away from our grandparents, whom we grew up seeing nearly every day. It would have meant traveling excessively, including internationally. It would have meant long hours and a significant time away from our family.
He turned down the promotion because he didn’t want to be absent. As a result, he was blacklisted from any other promotional roles, even those that wouldn’t have required a move or came after my brother and I were older.
Instead, he coached our soccer teams. He served on booster boards. He was at every single play and concert and music competition and awards ceremony. He made sure at every turn that we knew how proud he was of us.
The crucible years of his career came during a time when parents had to choose family over career. He chose family.
And I have never, not once, heard or felt from him any resentment for that decision.
For that, and for the choice he made, he is my hero.
Now, in the years when he planned to travel and explore, he is sacrificing again to care for my mom, who has Alzheimer’s. It is so hard on him and his heart breaks every day. He is sad and scared and sometimes frustrated and angry, but never resentful.
He is my hero and my role model. He taught me the importance of doing what you say you’ll do, the value of deep relationships with others, and how to lead regardless of title. And he still teaches me today the freedom that comes with no resentment.
To all of the dads today, thank you for whatever sacrifices you have made and continue to make for your family. You are all heroes.
(Picture is of me and my dad on my grandpa’s farm—Grandpa is in the hat right behind my dad.)
Cover Photo by Juliane Liebermann on Unsplash