You must have read Robert Kiyosaki’s book ‘Rich Dad, Poor Dad’. It is a world best-seller and an excellent read. I had two dads too. My two dads each gave me a different perspective on life, both highly valued.
Philip Sercombe was my natural Dad. Independent, ferociously hard-working, humble, highly sensitive, exceedingly generous, intensely proud of having been a Royal Marine, and a devoted Christian determined to live out his faith, my real Dad left home mid-teens to get away from a repressively Victorian, legalistic home and make his own way in life. His best ever decision was to marry my mother Betty (an exceptionally saintly, though thoroughly down-to-earth woman, now 90) and together they reared us four kids through the tough days of post-war Britain. Dad was great. He died a few years ago at the ripe old age of 88 and there were 200 mourners at his funeral – which says something.
But Dad wasn’t perfect, nor the only ‘Dad’ I had. This week I visited the grave of Campbell McAlpine who was born a year before my real father and died last January. Campbell was my mentor and friend for 35 years and was most of the things I needed that Dad was unable to be. Campbell wasn’t perfect either, but understood me in a way Dad couldn’t. He was a guiding light through good times and bad, and one of the most secure people I’ve ever met. I needed that.
I have three amazing children, a daughter and two sons. Both the sons, Ben and Jonna are expecting to be dads in the next month, and I’m feeling a little insecure as to what I may have shown them about dadhood. We’ll see.
And that’s the point. What have I shown them? Regardless of what I might come up with now, it is the dadhood of the last 30 years that counts the most. I’m quietly reliving the years when they were small, the things we did and didn’t do through their teenage years, my dadhood whilst they were going through university, and their business careers, the lot. Thankfully there are few regrets – and they themselves are very reassuring as they talk about their upbringing.
The philanthropist Albert Schweitzer once said, “Example is not the best way to influence people. It is the only way.” Whether I’m being a dad, coaching dads in Powerchange, or thinking about the sort of dad I want to be in the future, I know it is what I show in my life that has the most influence. As Eliza Dolittle said, “Words, words, words – I’m sick of words. Show me!”
Example – its the only way; especially when it comes to being a dad.