The 5 Best Life Lessons I Learned From My Dad

This week marks 4 years since my dad passed away. Though we have long accepted his passing and have moved on with our lives, I am reminded of the lessons the significant people in our lives share with us. So as my family and I specifically remember Dad this week, I share his remarkable wisdom – guidance that helped 6 kids in a big Italian family find their way, own their lives and make their impact in the world. May his wisdom inspire you to be the guides and coaches for your kids – and to come up with your life lessons that you pass on to help your kids find their way in our wild and wonderful world.

Dad’s Best Life Lessons

  1. Know who you are and be true to it – no matter what. You are each born with intrinsic greatness – gifts – that are unique to you. You should avidly discover and live these gifts – and be proud of what makes you, you. Learn to listen to and trust your own voice more than the voices of others. Stand for what you believe. Be courageous. And always allow others to be true to who they are.
  1. Find some way of doing what you do best everyday, and work to get better at it. Build your work and life around what you are good at and passionate about. Always keep learning, studying and improving. Stay connected to what is going on in your world so you can find your best place to have your greatest impact. The world needs you to be great, not average.
  1. Love each day. You don’t get this day back so treasure it. Love it. Share it. Respect it. Be really present. Live in each moment. Make memories. Accept what comes your way – don’t complain – just make the most of what you get.
  1. Think more of others than yourself. Be there for others – first. Service to others matters. See what you can do to help, inspire, inform, educate or support. Find someone who needs what you do best and share it – openly, gladly and selflessly. You do your best work when you help others do their best work.
  1. Make everything you touch better. Improve everything you touch; make every relationship you are part of better. Find the good everywhere; be the source of good everywhere. Be optimistic, encouraging and supportive. Don’t just talk about being better – do it.

Be someone’s hero

Dad was truly our hero. We found out he was also a hero to so many others as we heard comment after comment in the receiving line at his wake. He was a powerful force for good behind the scenes – no fanfare – no headlines – no spotlight. He didn’t (just) talk about these lessons – he lived them – openly, honestly, humbly and consistently. His life’s values were excellence, integrity, resilience and service. These are now our values.

There are people that come into our lives who share what they know – and our lives become better because of it. They are our heroes, mentors, coaches, teachers and philosophers. They are our leaders, motivators and confidence builders. Sometimes they even show up as our dad.

So how are you sharing great life wisdom with the people in your life? How are you helping your family show up each day – to be really present – to make life an event, and change things for the better in the process? Be your kid’s hero this week by what you say, how you live and what you inspire.

How to A Mindful and Modern Dad with Dr Josh Misner, RFL018

Mindfulness expert Dr Josh Misner joins Jay to share how dad’s roles are changing and how to have the courage to be a modern dad – one who is mindful and chooses how he wants to show up as a dad to each of his kids. The same wisdom applies for moms.

How To Be A Mindful and Modern Dad – Episode Overview

Do you think a dad is supposed to be the tough guy – the John Wayne, Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis type of hero that can battle with the toughest of foes, to be a hero to their kids?

What plays in your head at any moment is a voice of how to act as a dad. This voice may sound like your parents, your teachers, the news, a grandparent or even a neighbor. Those little voices come in and dictate how to be a dad. Well, maybe at the time you heard them they were useful, but how some of what you know about being a dad is now outdated. To be a modern dad means first means you are mindful – present, aware and tuned in. When you stop and notice, you tune in to new information that helps you determine as a dad (as a parent) what to do next that will help inspire happy, successful and responsible kids. This makes you open to whatever you need to do instead of following your default behaviors or the stories about what dads do that play in your head. This is what makes you a modern dad – one committed to showing up strong and right for the immediate situation – and in a way that makes sense for your kid, not concerned about what others may say about you. This is the definition of a modern dad.

Attention and Intention

This week, my attention is on dads. My intention is to help them realize that their roles are changing – and you control this change; you have the ability to define how you want to parent.

Meet our Guest Dr Josh Misner

Josh Misner being a modern dad photoDr Josh Misner is an award-winning communication and leadership professor and mindfulness researcher. His research focuses on the impact of mindful presence, or paying careful attention on purpose, particularly with respect to fathers and their families. A husband and active father of four, Josh teaches methods to savor each and every moment with the intention of playing an active role in children’s memories tomorrow. He founded the Mindful Dad Project, a collaborative community effort aimed at reconnecting fathers who desire a deeper connection with their children. Find out more at

Guest Links:

Episode’s Key TakeAWays

  1. As dads, we have a lot of expectations of how to be with our kids – they come from our history and many of these expectations do not help us in today’s parenting.
  2. A modern dad is simply a dad that is present enough in the moment to see what his kids need, and courageous enough to deliver what works best for the happiness of his kids, without considering what the conventional wisdom of “what dads do.” See the article, “On Being A Man.”
  3. Conventional dad behaviors are those we heard and saw from our parents. They were parents in different times. Their guidance and focus may not be useful today, to your kids. Be open to changing whatever needs changing to be the dad your kids need.
  4. Modern dads challenge the status quo. They are more concerned about doing the right thing for their kids than looking good for others. They disregard the question, “what does a real dad do?” They know that a great dad is the one who tunes in, pays attention and cares enough to show up to his kids in the way they need him – stern, tender, guiding, listening – whatever will matter most. See my article “The Softer Side of Dads.”
  5. Mindfulness is paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, without judgment. It requires us to be in control of ourselves enough to look at the moments and events of life as information (not judgmentally). From this place, a saner, calmer and more thoughtful dad (and mom) can consider and then choose how to respond.
  6. Mindfulness prepares dads to shift from reacting (going with our autopilot behaviors) to responding (we approach our actions with attention and intention).

Questions for Parents:

  1. What behaviors do you have with your kids that are not that productive – that come from what conventional dad behaviors tell you – but you do them any way? Which ones will you start to change?
  2. How can you develop the courage to be the dad you want to be without caring what others say? How will this help your kids learn confidence?
  3. How would you define being a modern dad for you? Moms, how can you help dads be confident in developing their own definition of what it means to be a dad today?
  4. What can you do to show up more present and aware to what is going on with your kids to determine what to consider and ultimately choose to be a great parent?
  5. How can you become less judgmental with your kids – and see what they do as information – then use it to sanely, wisely decide what to do next?

Tweet this:

Stop and Notice Challenge

Each week we ask you to stop and notice – to develop your skill of tuning in to you and your world. This week’s stop and notice challenge is:

  1. Stop and Notice you as you parent. What is effective, what is ineffective?
  2. Stop and Notice how your kids respond to your parenting? Does it connect with them and help the to be accountable, responsible and happy?
  3. Stop and Notice what you think it means to be a dad. How will you write your own definition and not be quick to take on the definition of others?
  4. Stop and Notice when you are not listening or not paying attention to your kids. What is stopping you? What information are you missing? How could being more aware improve your relationship with your kids?
  5. Stop and Notice how you and wife/partner parent. How do you support each other to be your unique and your best selves, not stuck in some other definition of what it means to be a mom or a dad?

Parenting is tough. The best parenting comes when we show up mindful, present and tuned in to our kids, non-judgmentally, so we can then assess and decide how we want to show up in this moment. This changes everything about parenting.

Suggested Resource

Mindfulness For Beginners – Jon Kabat-Zinn

Mindfulness for BeginnersThe practice of mindfulness holds the possibility of not just a fleeting sense of contentment, but a true embracing of a deeper unity that envelops and permeates our lives. With Mindfulness for Beginners you are invited to learn how to transform your relationship to the way you think, feel, love, work, and play-and thereby awaken to and embody more completely who you really are.

Here, the teacher, scientist, and clinician who first demonstrated the benefits of mindfulness within mainstream Western medicine offers a book that you can use in three unique ways: as a collection of reflections and practices to be opened and explored at random; as an illuminating and engaging start-to-finish read; or as an unfolding “lesson- a-day” primer on mindfulness practice.

Beginning and advanced meditators alike will discover in these pages a valuable distillation of the key attitudes and essential practices that Jon Kabat-Zinn has found most useful with his students, including:

  • Why heartfulness is synonymous with true mindfulness
  • The value of coming back to our bodies and to our senses over and over again
  • How our thoughts “self-liberate” when touched by awareness
  • Moving beyond our “story” into direct experience
  • Stabilizing our attention and presence amidst daily activities
  • The three poisons that cause suffering-and their antidotes
  • How mindfulness heals, even after the fact
  • Reclaiming our wholeness, and more

The prescription for living a more mindful life seems simple enough: return your awareness again and again to whatever is going on. But if you’ve tried it, you know that here is where all the questions and challenges really begin.

This resource includes a complete CD with five guided mindfulness meditations by Jon Kabat-Zinn, selected from the audio program that inspired this book.

Energize Your Kids With Family Adventures, With Larry Hagner – RFL10

Family Adventures Episode Overview

In this episode, Larry Hagner, founder of The Good Dad Project, joins Jay to share how parents can activate, engage, energize and connect with their kids by creating family adventures.

As always, consider leaving a review for us on iTunes. Here is the link for instructions.

How do you make the most of family time?

Commit to adding family adventures to your days and weeks.

Adventures don’t have to be extravagant – they just need to be something out of the ordinary. This is important for a couple of reasons:

  1.    Adventures keep things interesting – it changes things up and gets rid of the boredom.
  2.    Adventures introduce us and our kids to new and different things – we expand our world.

Attention and Intention

Each week at Ready4Life we focus on attention and intention. So for this show our attention is on how to make time for family this summer and our intention is that we use that time to create family adventures.

Meet My Guest Larry Hagner

Larry Hagner and his boys getting ready for more family adventuresIn this episode we connect with the adventure-maker himself, Larry Hagner. Larry is a passionate father of three boys and the creator of The Good Dad Project. As a father who travels for work, he is committed to making the days and moments of life special for his family – and has some great ideas on how to make life interesting and an adventure.

How to connect to Larry Hagner:

Episode’s Takeaways

Daily adventures

  1. Start small – do things out of the ordinary. Image new things to do with the regular things – for example, rethink dinner. What new thing can you eat, where could you eat, who could be involved in preparing it, what could you read about so you can tell stories about it as you eat together?
  2. Ask good questions. What new and fun things happened in the day? What was the greatest thing you heard today? What was the funniest thing you saw today? In addition to getting everyone included, it helps everyone expand what they notice. This gets them good at watching for places to have adventures.

Weekly adventures

Involve everyone in thinking about how to make each day more exciting.

  1. Identify great things in the area and go do them.
  2. Change things up one day a week in something like bed times, bedtime process, dinner, breakfast, etc.
  3. Make a commitment to be outside more during the summer – and make the outside time a family event – Frisbee, kickball, family walks, etc.

Once a year adventures

  1. Larry shared that he takes each of his kids on a special one-on-one adventure each year. They discuss where to go, what to do and then they document it with tons of pictures. It can be near or far based on time and resources. Just make it different, one-on-one and exciting.

To have adventures in life, you have to go create them. Use the collective genius of your family to think up ways of adding more excitement and adventure to all of the places in your life. Expanding your world is how to Get Your Kids Ready For Life.

The Dad's Edge Course On Family AdventuresGreat Offer From Larry

Larry offered a special 30% discount off his new Dad’s Edge online course. Click here to see the course. This link has the discount already applied. Get the $27 course for $19 for being a Get Your Kids Ready For Life listener.

Stop and Notice Challenge

Each week we ask you to stop and notice – to develop your skill of tuning in to you and your world. This week’s stop and notice challenge is:

  1. Stop and Notice 3 things that would be great adventures for your family. Why? How could you make them happen?
  2. Stop and Notice what makes life exciting and adventuresome to you? What are two things you could do in the next month to build more adventure into your life?


Suggested Resources

Teen Life – Great website that has powerful and meaningful information for teens and parents. Here is their mission:

Our mission is to make it simple for teens (along with their parents and educators) to develop a meaningful personal experience portfolio, no matter the makeup of their individual interests, talents and resources.

Check out their site and stay connected to their blogs. They write great, practical and meaningful things that teens and parents need to know.

15 Free Apps to Help With College Prep

As the title shares, here is a link worthy of your time. The apps range from finding colleges, learning about the culture at colleges, to arranging your visits at college campuses. Great one for both parents and students to review together.


How To Unlock The Power Dad Inside You – With Wayne Parker – RFL008

Episode Overview

Get Your Kids Ready for Life offers powerful and practical information for both teens/young adults and parents. This episode focuses on guidance for Dads – I’ll call it Power Parenting – How to Unlock the Power Dad Inside You with the Power Dad himself and Fatherhood expert Wayne Parker. We talk the practical ways to raise happy and responsible kids and to develop our confidence as great dads. And, all the lessons and tips shared in this episode work great for moms as well.

Take away messages for parents

  1. Be predictable and consistent. Set up and support rules, behavior contracts, expectations and consequences to help kids know the rules of the road. When circumstances drive our decisions instead of principles, we can be all over the boards. Instead, define the guiding principles of the family (service, excellence, integrity, honesty, etc), and be consistent to those.
  2. Love consistently. There are 5 love languages – (See the book The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman). By learning the love language of each of your kids, and connecting with them that way, you connect a deeper and more personal level. The love languages are 1) Words of Affirmation, 2) Quality Time, 3) Receiving Gifts, 4) Acts of Service, 5) Physical Touch. Which is yours, which is each of your kid’s?
  3. Communicate actively. Hearing is passive, listening is active. We spend more time preparing for our response than actually listening for what is said. Make a commitment to be more present to not only hear what is said but to fully understand what is meant, what feelings are and what message is delivered.
  4. Focus on balance. How much time do you spend in work, at home, and with yourself. Focus on balancing all aspects of life to be more present to your kids by being more connected to yourself.
  5. See the remaining Principes on Power Parenting in Wayne Parker’s book,  Power Dads, The 10 Basic Principles Successful Fathers Use to Raise Happy and Responsible Children.


Power Dads With Wayne ParkerSee what Wayne Parker posts on

Find his blog at

Click here to see Wayne Parker’s book, Power Dads, The 10 Basic Principles Successful Fathers Use to Raise Happy and Responsible Children on Amazon.

Email Wayne at:

Stop and Notice

This week we have been talking being a power (effective) dad and parent. So there are two parts to this week’s stop and notice challeng:

  1. As a parent, stop and notice how consistent you are. What behavioral expectations do you create with your kids (and do they know why), and do you live to your word about them? Notice any place you are inconsistent, then determine why you are inconsistent. What will it take to improve it?
  2. Stop and notice how you connect with each of your kids. What is their love language? What are their talents and passions? What are their interests, strengths, dreams and fears? As you stop and notice how much time you connect (or don’t connect), decide what you want to keep doing that is working well, and what is one thing you can improve on if it is not going so well.

Make small improvements each day.

Hot Job – Parenting Coach

Maybe you have an interest in parenting because you came from great and capable parents – or maybe you have an interest in helping parents learn how to parent better because you came from a family whose parenting wasn’t all that good. EIther way, a parenting coach is our hot job pick this week. 

Pay rate range: 45k – $65k+

Education: degree in early childhood development, psychology, sociology or childhood education; additional coaching coursework for certification

A parenting coach guides other parents as they make decisions about raising their children. This is a relatively new business that has developed as more households consist of two working parents. Parents that are unsure how to handle certain situations may turn to coaches to get neutral, well-intentioned and personal advice. Working as a parenting coach can be a work-at-home opportunity.

The Job of a Parenting Coach

A parenting coach helps parents deal with difficult child-rearing problems and issues and provides general guidance about raising children. Some parents will approach coaches when struggling to handle a child with learning or physical disabilities. Many parenting coaches will also provide assistance to schools, daycares or hospitals. At these places, many coaches lecture about the best way to handle common child issues, such as stubbornness or fear. For more information, go to


Out with the kids, a power dad resourceWebsite: Out With The Kids

Out With The Kids is an amazing website that blogs with humor, parenting tips, reading suggestions, photography, music reviews, toy reviews, movie reviews, info on gaming, lists of giveaways and all around parenting brilliance. The site is not only practical in its approach and content, but it is truly inspiring. I love the way it encourages parents to reframe things – to help us keep our focus, stay sane and love the moments of parenting.

In addition to the site, Jeff Bogle (creator) has a great Facebook page. Like it to stay connected to his wit, wisdom and wonderful view of parenting. Don’t miss his regular giveaways. We all need some help raising kids – at any age – check out this site and the powerhouse site – Life of Dad