A Lesson from My Father (and Happy Father’s Day)

In: ideas

21 Jun 2009

According to the calendar, we should be appreciating the fathers of the world today. Of course, it goes without saying that one should show such appreciation every day, but having a specific time to reflect on dad is still a nice idea.

My father, indirectly, is the reason I write this blog. He was the one that taught me to look for unconventional ways of getting things done, which often has the added bonus of saving money in the process. I guess it is his background as an engineer and his hobby as a tinkerer of boats, radios, cars, and a whole lot more. But the idea of looking at the goal you want to achieve, than reverse engineering a way to get it done for the lowest cost possible, all stems from him.

He gave me a piece of advice while I was growing up that didn’t really reasonate with me at the time, but I have come to realize is one of the most powerful nuggets of wisdom you can share with a child.

“If you can read, you can figure out how to do anything.”

At the time, I kind of took it as a generic bit of fatherly advice. “Oh, yeah, sure, reading is great.” But I didn’t really understand what he meant. He was relating it to problem-solving. There is a world of information out there (and this was before the Internet!). Almost everything you ever want to do has been done before, and somebody has probably taken the time to write down what they learned. Find it, read it, then do it yourself.

This outlook has impacted every thing I do in life. By studying up on a subject then jumping in headfirst, I have taught myself everything from how to code a website, to how to use Photoshop, to tiling a bathroom, to changing an engine in an old Jeep Cherokee I used to own, to wiring a house, and on and on. I have never had a moment when I doubted if I was “handy” or whether I was smart enough to do something, I just assume that everything is something I can teach myself to do. I believe this applies to everyone. Experts might be able to do something better or faster if you are willing to pay a premium, but most of the time, you can figure out whatever it is you want to get done on your own.

So, this is all my long-winded way of thanking my dad for giving me the confidence, the motivation, and the courage to believe we can all do anything if we’re just willing to take the time to teach ourselves how to do it.

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there.

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Mark Webster

About Mark Webster

One of the Co-Founders of SideTour, former TechStar (NYC Summer 2011), ex-NBA'er, and past TechCrunch Disrupt Hackathon Winner.