Rodney M Bliss

What I Learned About Business From One Of My Seven Dads (#1)

See that tree?


Enjoy it, it’s the last one we’ll see for the rest of the summer.

My brother and I told same joke every year. We lived in Olympia, WA. Olympia looks like this.

We spent summers in Othello, WA. Othello looks like this

While my friends were going to the lake, or the summer fairs, or scout camp, I was going to the swimming pool. . .and that was about it. In fairness we did go the lake on occasion. We helped with the Othello city flout in small town parades around the inland empire. 

But, it’s not where we wanted to be. 

My parents split up when I was just a baby. My dad stayed involved in my life. I don’t know if it was a little or a lot. It’s not somthing that children of divorce sat around and discussed,

I see my dad for a month during the summer and a week at Christmas. How about you?

But, I didn’t want to be there. As parent I eventually discovered what “bonding” meant. I didn’t see my dad much when I was a baby. I never really bonded with him. It’s not something I’m proud of. I would have liked to have cared about him. I didn’t not care. He was just a guy spent time with. 

But, that’s not what he taught me. When I was 14 I asked him to let me be adopted by my stepfather. 

He didn’t want to do it. While I might not have bonded to him, he certainly bonded to me. I was his son. He cared about me. He loved me. And I told him that I didn’t want to be his son any more. I don’t have to imagine how he felt, I know how he felt. 

He didn’t have to say yes. He had parental rights and could have prevented me from being adopted until I was 18. I’m not even sure I would have still wanted to at that point. He didn’t have to say yes, but he did. 

I’ve wondered about that my whole life. 

And then he stayed out of my life. I’ve seen him twice since then. Once at my high school graduation, and then once at my brother’s house. 

So, what’s this have to do with business? 

We don’t always get to do what we want. There are times where we are presented with a terrible choice. A choice where we don’t like either option. At those times, we have an opportunity; an opportunity to reach outside ourselves, to “do unto others.” What do we do? Do we have it in us to make the hard choice? Do we have it in us to put not just the needs, but the wants of other people above our own? 

It might be allowing a trusted employee to take a job in another department or another company. Perhaps even giving them a recommendation that will get them the job. Maybe it’s letting a junior collegue give the presentation to the executive committee. Maybe it’s turning down a promotion so your kids don’t have to change schools. 

We are all presented at times with the opportunity to do the right thing, or if not exactly the right thing, then the thing that will benefit others more than ourselves. 

Can you make that choice? 

Can I?

When those situations arise, I remember that when I was a teenager I knew a man who could. And it gives me hope. 

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday at 7:00 AM Mountain Time. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and one grandchild. 

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