Friday, September 4, 2009
*See the Preface to the “Saul’s Laws” page at the WordFeeder.
Saul’s Law on going it alone was an admonition not to. “Don’t try,” my father advised me, “to do important things by yourself.”
At the time, I thought he was talking about himself and my mother, that I shouldn’t be afraid to ask them if ever there was something I was having trouble figuring out on my own. But then he could have just said that, and didn’t. One thing about my father, he seldom blurted. He was smart, no question about it, although it wasn’t so much that he was mentally quick, as it was that he was always thinking and seldom encountered a situation or topic he wasn’t prepared to discuss. The intelligence he demonstrated so casually was hard earned. I think he meant exactly what he said.
It makes sense. There’s a lot we go through growing up and as adults, personally and professionally, that’s more than we can handle well by ourselves. On the other hand, and here’s the rub, my parents brought me up to be independent, to be able to take care of myself, to figure out things on my own and be proud of it. Independence was equated with strength. Dependence, with weakness.
“Life’s full of contradictions” could have been one of Saul’s Laws, but wasn’t. I guess it was one of those things he expected me to figure out for myself.
There was more to it that came later: “When you reach out for someone to help you, Son,” he called me “Son” and almost never by my given name, “and they do, be sure to help that person back if you ever get the chance, or someone else if you don’t.” The fact was, he taught me by his example over the years I lived at home, sometimes you’ll find yourself helping other people just for the heck of it. He thought of it as making a deposit, of banking the goodwill until he or someone else needed it someday.
No doubt about it, my father was one of the good guys, but not entirely for the usual reasons you might be assuming. You’ll understand when you learn Saul’s 9th Law of Business and Life: “Selfish Behavior,” next up.