Word-Of-the-Week #937: Wisdom

July 21, 2022 by  

Wisdom – the trait of utilizing knowledge and experience with common sense and insight.

Do you know anyone who is still alive at 95? Have they imparted any words of wisdom?

This week featuresEnduring words of wisdom from my wise fatherby Phil Blair.

“A few weeks ago, on the way to a vacation, my wife and I stopped to visit my 101-and-a-half-year-old father.

He and his 95-year-old girlfriend live together in a small community outside of Houston. They have a wonderful life together with lots of friends and are each quite independent.

My brother and I visit Dad about every six weeks or so, with my brother coming from Connecticut. Together, we’ve been doing that for nearly 15 years, with each visit making us wonder if it might be our last.

As Father’s Day came and went, I got to thinking about Dad’s career, and why, by anyone’s standards, he was so successful in so many ways.

  • What wisdom has he passed on to my brother and myself?

That’s easy to answer, because I’m certain that Dad’s positive, outgoing personality is the key to his longevity. As ever, Dad loves being around people whom he cares about and who care about him.

He’s never met a stranger and he’s still proactive about meeting new people — especially anyone he feels may be lonely or unhappy. They are quickly invited into his circle of friends.

  • Money was tight when Dad was growing up

Dad was one of seven children born in the Bartlesville area of Oklahoma. To support the family, his father ran an oil lease out in the Oklahoma countryside, maintaining one of those plunger-style oil rigs that pop up in black-and-white movies. Money was tight.

After high school graduation, Dad opted to join the Air Force and soon flew bombers over France trying to dislodge the Nazis.

When he came back from the European front, he met my mother and they settled back in Oklahoma. He got a job with an oil company doing manual labor, not all that different from what his father had done before him.

With each visit, my brother, Russell, and I are continually amazed to hear new stories of Dad’s life and what events, like serving in WWII, had a profound effect on him.

Even though Dad started at the bottom, he had no intention of staying there. He was always outworking and outthinking his coworkers, to the point that often led to resentment. You know, the typical “Slow down, you’re making the rest of us look bad.”

He loves to talk about one boss who told him to “slow down” and how Dad relished the day when he became that man’s boss. The war had shown him what it took to be a leader, and he was determined to prove himself.

Dad began moving up the ranks and into management, slowly at first, and then he caught the eye of other managers on the fast track. They knew a winner when they saw one and took him with them.

  • Like Dad, Mom knew the value of having a good job

Dad and Mom were willing to move anywhere, at any time, to benefit his career. Mom was from a farming family in Nebraska and, like Dad, she knew the value of having a steady job.

Their shared spirit of adventure soon took them to oil outposts in Iran, Peru, Venezuela, Libya, England and Spain, among other countries where they lived. They didn’t hesitate to pack up and move for the benefit of Dad’s career.

He rose quickly in the management ranks of Standard Oil of Indiana (Amoco) and proved that a college education is not necessarily a prerequisite for a successful career.

What was most important was his gift of liking people, treating everyone fairly, seeing the positive in any situation, and being profoundly flexible. Pretty basic concepts when you think about it.

Those concepts haven’t changed.

Whenever I’m at a civic or social event and see someone standing alone, feeling awkward because they don’t know anyone, I do what Dad did so often — still does. I introduce myself and then introduce them to others.

Even now that he’s into his second century, Dad helps people be a better version of themselves, be happier and more welcoming. As ever, he surrounds himself with friends who love and care for him.

Just like he loves and cares for them.”

Blair is co-founder of Manpower Staffing and author of “Job Won.”

This week’s focus is wisdom. How would you rate yourself on common sense and insight? Do you exhibit the gift of liking people and treating them fairly? Have you ever helped someone be a better version of themselves?

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