8 Life Lessons my Father Taught Me

Often we go through life seeking advice + inspiration from the greats – the Beyonces, Tina Feys and Shauna Harrisons of the world. They’re smart. They’re famous. They have wonderful things to say. But we tend to forget about those who inhabit our everyday lives. Those family members + friends who are working late to support those they love, going on volunteer trips, doing revolutionary research + everything in between. It doesn’t take riches or 1 million Instagram followers to be a positive influence or to change the world, which is why we’re challenging you to seek advice from some of your favorite people.

To give you all a bit of motivation, let me introduce you to my dad, Joe Murray. He’s a professor at Kent State University, a published author, a pilot, a world traveler [from Antarctica to Cuba + everywhere in between] + one of the most genuine individuals I have ever met. I’ll admit I’m a bit biased, but anyone who knows him will tell you the same. This post will never do him justice, but it’s a small thank you + a glimpse at how lucky I am to be able to call him “Dad.”

I sat with him + asked him for advice every CHAARG girl could take with her into the summer + the rest of her life…

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FIND A MIX OF CONFIDENCE + CURIOSITY

I remember exactly what it’s like to be a student who’s afraid to ask a question or tell someone they don’t know something out of fear for looking like a fool. There’s a difference between confidence + arrogance. You need just a little bit of confidence to make you step over that edge. If you mix that with sincerity, authenticity + genuine interest in whatever interest you have, a good person will share it with you. Really good people aren’t afraid to share what they know. They don’t think twice about giving away the knowledge they’ve worked so hard to obtain. Find those people.

ENGAGE IN KINDNESS

If someone does a kind thing for you, you’re obligated to do 10 kind things for 10 different people. You don’t tell them about it. You just do it. It’s a debt you owe to yourself + the world. Each act of kindness improves the world + your life immeasurably.

FORGET ABOUT FAILURE

I’ve failed enough to know what it feels like + enough to keep me motivated. Everyone learns from his or her failures. But the best way I’ve found to deal with failure is to forget about it. It’s a weight. You might as well tie a brick around your ankle. If you want to carry that around + let it influence your thinking, you can, but that’s not what I want to do. It’s not that I don’t learn. My failures sting as much as anyone’s failures, but you have got to set them free. Let them go. Prepare yourself for what comes next.

TAKE A RISK

When you hear people talk about a worldly perspective, it doesn’t come from seeing the Taj Mahal. It comes from seeing people as they truly live + interacting with them on a human-to-human level. Not as a tourist. Basic human nature is the same all around the world—Cuba, Antarctica, Israel. It’s the same. We put up so many artificial boundaries that we don’t ever want to step out of or into. Sometimes you need them to keep you safe, but if you always stay inside them, you’ll never grow as a person. Take a risk.

DON’T COUNT ON LUCK

People tell me I’m lucky, + I am. I’ve lived a beautiful life thus far + I’m incredibly grateful. But people don’t know how hard I work for the luck I get. Nothing in life would be worthwhile if it were handed to you. Each year that goes by you realize that your life is finite. You need to go out + make the most of it.

GET BUSY

When I was 8 years old, I overheard my doctor tell my mom I’d be blind by the time I was 21—something I was never supposed to know. How do you process that as a child? All you know is that it’s going to be dark. You don’t really understand that you’ll never be able to see a living thing again. So for the next 12 years, I would get up in the middle of the night, when the world is dark + nebulous, + I would practice for when I would be blind.

But you can’t live your life preparing for the worst + I started to realize that. I realized I had to get busy. I needed to get busy. I could’ve spent the rest of my life worrying or I could make the most of what I have. That’s what I did + that’s what you need to do. Get out. Live life.

GIRLS HAVE THE ADVANTAGE

There isn’t a difference between the capabilities of women + men. I learned that lesson early on. I worked as a video editor + at that time, there was only one editor who was a woman. It became very clear to me who was the best editor on staff + it was her. She was quiet. She had this amazing attention to detail. It’s because she worked harder than all of us. In a weird way, women have the advantage over men. At least that’s how I want you to think of it. The advantage doesn’t exist in salaries or jobs, yet. But it exists in their work ethic. Women have to work harder for what they have + the happy ending is that they are succeeding + changing the world in the process.

TAKE CHARGE OF YOUR OWN DREAMS

A newspaper clipping reading: “Boldly go in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you’ve imagined” hangs near the door of my office. It’s the last thing I see everyday when I head out the door to go home. It reminds me that you’re responsible for your own dreams. If you don’t do it, no one is going to do it for you. That’s a reminder we all need. We wait + wait for the right time, but now is the time. It’s the time to change your life—fashion it in the likeness of your wildest dreams.

I love you, Dad!

+ Grace [@gm.inchaarg], Kent State CHAARG

Use this as a starting point in your own “advice interviews” + share the best advice you received with us on Instagram + Twitter — tag us @CHAARG + #inCHAARG! We can’t wait to hear.

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