Top 3 Lessons I've Learned from my Dad
For many months when I was first starting my photography business I would send these beautifully crafted email newsletters out into the cyber world and just hope with all my might someone might read one. I'd spend hours trying to make these newsletters perfect, and even more hours just hoping someone would respond. There was one guy though who did read my very first newsletter and everyone since, and this fan guy actually responded to every single newsletter I've sent. Pulling back the curtain a but on my business, and sharing with you a bit about my Dad. In honor of his 70th birthday (which he will hate that I told you about! LOL!) I've created a list of the top 3 lessons I've learned from my Dad.
Lesson #1 Figure out a way to connect
If you know anything about Julie M Gile Photography it's all about connection. There was a moment when I learned this lesson in a pungent way. One of the hardest times on my life was when I broke off my engagement to my high school sweetheart of 8 years. I moved out of my fancy high rise condo downtown Minneapolis and moved into my Dad's basement. To say I was crushed, embarrassed, and depressed would be an understatement. I'd work all day and sneak down in the basement to watch Sex in the City and try to avoid literally everything. My Dad, bless his heart, is not the warm fuzzy 'let's talk out your feelings' kinda guy, and he knew this was an emotional hornet's nest way over his head. What he did know, however, was that he had to do something because the bee hive was not getting better by itself.
So Dad brought in the big guns: the animal pack.
My Dad would let me lurk in the basement after work, and then come up with some random excuse to come barging in my cave with all the animals we had in the house. Soon the dog was jumping on the bed, the cats were running circles, there was fur flying. What started as a massive annoyance quickly became love from the fur family to put just a little bit back in the emotional tank. Once my Dad sensed a smile start to creep back on my face again these fur visits turned into "Well the kitties just wanted to get you some flowers", then "Laddie wanted to invite you up for dinner" and the momentum was built. Maybe this wasn't the right space or time to talk it all out, but this was the best place to start filling up the love tank again. It was a non-traditional way to utilize the fur family, but the lesson rings true in my life today. Find a way to connect, and use all your resources. When this doesn't work, bring in the big fur family if you have to.
Lesson #2: Prioritize Family Dinners
When my parents got divorced, my Dad was stuck with his limited kitchen knowledge: pancakes and steak on the grill. Perhaps he could also cook a baked potato in the microwave, but that was literally it. I was a young middle schooler at the time, and was looking for any excuse not to be home. My Dad, wise to my strategy of avoidance, made a house rule that I had to be home a minimum of three nights a week for dinner. Rolling my eyes, I agreed and then promptly tried to wiggle out of it every change I got. My Dad held me to my word, and would schedule these dinners with me each week. I'd even complain about his cooking hoping to throw him off. Then he came up with a notorious recipe called "Cheese Chicken" which was basically just chicken in the frying pan with a slice of Velveeta melted on top at the last minute. Literally, he was trying his best. Looking back on it, and understanding now how busy life gets, how challenging parenting can be, I am so grateful for these dinners. It means a lot to have someone make time for you, even if you don't appreciate it at the moment. I work really hard to keep our family dinner time sacred, and it's admittedly a really big challenge. I can't help but laugh and give my dad a hard time about his Cheese Chicken still to this day, and he still threatens to make it for me.
Lesson #3: If You're Going to Do It, Do It Right
This was a frustrating lesson to learn as a child, believe me. I'd be at the kitchen table with my Dad working on homework and every time I would scribble over something and write a different answer my Dad would say "Julie, if you're going to do it then do it right." Then I would look at my scribbled over, erased answer and get frustrated but know he was right. Maybe this could be viewed as being a perfectionist, but I feel the lesson was deeper than this. What I remember most about these moments was this:
Make sure what you put out into the world reflects your very best effort...all the time.
I'm slightly haunted by this lesson (lol!), but also feel a great sense of pride when I edit a gallery of images and feel it truly represents my best work. When one of my clients has their photos taken by me these images become a part of their story, so the quality and authenticity matters. As a business owner, this philosophy also carries down to how I prepare for a photo shoot, cultivate my artistic style, bid my work fairly, and deliver on the customer experience. If you are going to do it, do it right.
Thank you for sharing in this big birthday surprise for my Dad. He asked for no gifts this year, but you know I had to do something to embarrass him a bit :-) We're traveling to Minnesota for a small family get together, and I'll keep you posted on his response.
Happy Birthday Dad, and thanks for reading all my newsletters and blogs from the very beginning.
Julie (aka 'Twink')