14 Jun 14 Important Life Lessons I Learned from My Dad

In April 2008, I was frustrated with my job in Utah and wanted to move back to my home state of Wisconsin as soon as possible. Thankfully, I was offered and quickly accepted an incredible opportunity with the Wisconsin Athletic Club. Rachel and I had about three weeks to prepare for our move.

Who You Gonna Call? Ed Deprey!

As soon as we knew that the move was official, I called my dad and said, “We’re moving back home.” Knowing how much I wanted to make a change, he responded, “That’s awesome. Do you need any help?” You see, I didn’t even have to ask for help. I replied, “Yes. Thank you so much. Two PODS will be dropped off on May 2nd for me to pack up all of our stuff.” Dad said, “I’ll take off that day. See you at the airport then.”

Rachel spent the next couple of weeks packing everything up while I wrapped up my job in Salt Lake City. After the two weeks, Rachel drove her car back to Milwaukee so that she could finalize our home purchase. I stayed back in Utah for the last week to wrap everything up. As promised, my dad arrived on Friday, May 2nd. We immediately started to load the first POD. The next morning, we loaded and filled the second POD. My dad would’ve dominated any Tetris game, because everything fit perfectly.

The Best Drive of My Life

Within no time, we were on the road. Moments into the drive, I remember dreading the fact that I would be sitting in my 1999 Monte Carlo for twenty hours. I whined, but stopped for good when my dad said, “This is fun.”  I was amazed by his spirit as he went on to say, “This is fun,” for another ten plus times throughout our road trip. Looking back, our commute from Utah to Wisconsin was the best drive of my life because I was continually reminded about the following lessons that my dad taught me.

14 Life Lessons from the Best Dad in the World

#1. Keep learning and growing. My dad is a handyman. I am quite the opposite because I break things. Thankfully, he helps my family with some at-home projects, even if he has never done them before. For example, my dad redid our patio and installed our vinyl fence with little to no experience. With both projects, he studied instructional videos up until the minute we started working.

#2. Stay humble. My dad is the best carpenter I have ever seen. However, if you’ve never seen his work, you wouldn’t know this because his is always kind and respectful to everyone. My dad is more concerned about being interested in others by asking questions and listening deeply versus trying to be interesting by talking about himself.

#3. Pay attention to the details. Over the last few years, I carefully watched my dad install closet doors, crown molding, and ceiling fans. No matter if he was surrounded by a bunch of people or was all alone, he never settled for “good enough.” My dad’s standard is excellence.

#4. Have fun. To have fun you must be fun. My dad is super fun! When Rachel and I got married in 2006, I watched my dad sign our marriage certificate. After he finished signing, I said, “Dad, you wrote your middle name wrong. It’s supposed to be Lee, isn’t it?” He replied, “No Derek, it’s Louis.” Stunned, I questioned him, “Then why did you let me call you Eddie Lee for the last twenty years?” He answered, “Because it was fun for me.” My dad definitely has a sense of humor.

#5. Be present. My dad has always been my biggest fan. He regularly sat in the bleachers during my basketball games and drove me to the gym, NBA basketball games, sporting card shops, and video game rental stores. Today, my dad continues to be a part of my family life.

#6. Don’t complain. I learned at a very young age to avoid moaning and groaning around my dad. He never grumbled about building houses in below zero weather, never talked negatively about a boss, and never questioned my coaches or teachers. My dad has always been pumped full of optimism.

#7. Live your passion. My dad loves to build and repair things, but his efforts go much deeper. I see my dad light up when he sees his impact on others . . . especially when families are truly happier as a result of his work.

#8. Believe in others. My dad never questioned my desire to graduate from college, work in the NBA, become a professional speaker, and write a book. He always encouraged me to go after my dreams.

#9. Always arrive early. No matter what my dad is doing, even an ordinary dinner out, he is ten to fifteen minutes ahead of schedule. Because of this, my dad always makes the other party feel valued and important.

#10. Have integrity. I have never seen my dad lie, steal, or take a shortcut. He is a person of high character.

#11. Work hard. My dad is the hardest working person that I have ever seen. Period. If you are a hard worker, you know exactly what I mean. The heart thing. It’s just in you.

#12. Eat healthy. During my high school years, I noticed that my dad made a huge change with his nutrition. Instead of going to fast food restaurants, we started going to family-style restaurants and ordering healthy meals. We started driving to Natural Ovens Bakery and buying higher quality whole grains. To this day, I think that my dad stays lean and energized because he is intentional about what he puts in his body.

#13. Take risks and fail. On my sixteenth birthday, my dad bought me a 1988 Nissan Sentra. One year later, I really wanted a 1994 teal Ford Probe (don’t judge…teal used to be cool). This time, however, I would have to pay for the $7,000 car by myself, if my dad approved of the purchase. My dad questioned my decision, and rightly so. I mean, I was only seventeen years old, worked as a gopher at Check Electric, made $5.15 per hour, and only clocked in for about ten hours per week. Do the math. It didn’t add up. Somehow, I talked my dad into allowing me to buy the car. Unfortunately, I couldn’t make the first couple payments. Looking back, I think my dad said yes because he wanted me to learn a valuable lesson about taking a risk and failing. I quickly realized that I needed another job with more hours to pay off my loan.

#14. Keep things simple. In the mid-1980s, my dad built yachts at Burger Boat in Manitowoc, Wisconsin. Some of my fondest memories are when he took our family to the shipyard to see the boat launches. He tweaked those good experiences and made them great by giving us the opportunity to actually go on the boats and tour them. He taught me that you don’t have to go to Disney World to create memorable moments with your family.

The Result

My dad is awesome! I am proud to call him Dad. People that know my dad like him, respect him, and trust him because he cares about everyone and everything.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad. Thank you for being such a positive influence in my life. I love you.

ACTION: If you are blessed to have a dad or father-figure in your life, thank him for one or two life lessons that he taught you. If you are having a Father’s Day party for him, consider having everyone go around the table and share a life lesson that he taught them, too.

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