I remember a short conversation I had with my father when I was a child. I don’t remember how old I was or any other details about that day, but the words he spoke are crystal-clear in my mind.
In typical whiny, small child fashion, I had asked my dad “why do you have to go to work?”
His reply: “I don’t have to go to work, I get to go to work.”
I barely understood his meaning at the time, but those words have stuck with me. That one simple sentence has lingered in my mind, as a verbal representation of a lesson he taught me through his actions every single day: Find something you love to do, and do it with everything you have.
My dad has worked in the car business my entire life. He’s had different roles, titles, responsibilities, and customer bases along the way, but one thing has always been constant for me: my dad sells cars. I’ve always known – even if I wasn’t really aware – that he loves what he does. And that the satisfaction he gets from spending his days doing something he truly enjoys makes him great at his job.
He hasn’t always been in the business; he dabbled in other trades before finding his niche. It was such an odd thing to learn as a kid, that dad used to do something else. I’ve realized that this wasn’t odd to me simply because it was different from what I knew, it was odd because I can’t imagine my father finding such joy and satisfaction in any other career.
It was such an important lesson to wrap my head around. I don’t recall him ever lecturing my brother and I on the importance of doing what we love, in fact, I don’t remember him saying much about it at all. Instead, he showed us every day. As I’ve come to understand all that it means, I’ve noticed how true it is in my own life. I do my best work when I’m truly happy with what I’m doing. I’m happiest in all aspects of my life when I enjoy how I spend the bulk of my day.
So, Daddy, thank you. I know I haven’t said it enough, but I appreciate all that you did for us every day. You did so much more than put food on the table and a roof over our heads. You taught me a very important lesson, one that, sadly, too few people ever learn. Sure, the paycheck matters, but we need to spend our lives doing what makes us happy. If we are going to spend most of our hours, days, weeks, years doing something, shouldn’t it bring us joy?
Because of you, I know how important it is to be able to say: “I don’t have to go to work, I get to go to work.”