This past Sunday, our nation celebrated fathers for their positive influence leading families, a day made into national law in 1972. Of note, Spokane had a prominent role in establishing the celebration of dads. The first recorded celebration of Father’s Day occurred in 1908 in West Virginia. Two years later, in 1910, a Father’s Day celebration was held in Spokane, at the YMCA by Sonora Smart Dodd. Its first celebration was in the Spokane YMCA on June 19, 1910. Her father, civil war veteran William Jackson Smart, was a single parent who raised his six children there. After hearing a sermon about Anna Marie Jarvis’ Mother’s Day in 1909 at Central Methodist Episcopal Church, she told her pastor that fathers should have a similar holiday honoring them. Although she initially suggested June 5, her father’s birthday, the pastors did not have enough time to prepare their sermons, and the celebration was deferred to the third Sunday of June. Several local clergymen accepted the idea, and on June 19, 1910, the first Father’s Day, “sermons honoring fathers were presented throughout the city.” It would be decades and decades before the holiday was Father Day jpgestablished, but Spokane stayed prominent raising awareness for the day. In 1916, in fact, President Woodrow Wilson went to Spokane to speak in a Father’s Day celebration. Today we pause and celebrate Fathers who are leaders.
Fathers share many characteristics with mothers – both are critical to raising healthy and confident children. This is even more difficult in our technology-driven and mobile society. As a father of two, staying ahead of teenagers is a race every day. Good fathers share servant leader characteristics as in serving their kids; they set the example emulating love, strength and nobility of purpose. Jeff James, Vice President and General Manager of the Disney Institute, wrote an excellent article “5 Things Leaders Can Learn from Fathers” on June 14, 2013. Some of his “things” I certainly did learn from my father.
Fathers see the big picture. My dad was a master project maker, a skill I did not learn as well. He was able to take any Christmas present that required assembly and help me put Tab A into Tab B and make it all work it wonderfully. Likewise, he was also able to use lessons of life and stand back and give me advice at critical junctures in my life, helping me see the big picture as well. My father’s strength and confidence provided credibility to his advice, that when I was not being incredibly stubborn, helped me see the right way. Yes, good fathers see the big picture and good sons and daughters should listen.
Fathers give one-on-one time with their kids, too. Many fathers work full-time and their kids see how busy they are. It thus becomes precious when fathers take time to spend time with their kids. I remember shooting rockets, taking family vacations and doing Scouts with my dad. It thus is not a surprise I did those same things with my two sons. Beyond the importance of family time, one-on-one time did one thing that every leader must contribute to – he built my self-esteem and my confidence because he cared about me. Leaders learn and our learning starts at birth. Fathers who spend time with their kids start a lifetime of confidence building. Jeff James in his article makes note that employers who take time for their employees raise confidence in a like fashion, which doubles down on raising their productivity.
Fathers and mothers should be good leaders of their kids, and it is the least we can do to take a day to celebrate our parents annually. Good fathers do exemplify good leadership characteristics and in doing so, they build the most important leadership characteristic of all, trust. Fathers see the big picture and they spend time with their children. In doing so, they build the next leaders of America, one child at a time. Thank you Dad for being there for me – may I be there for my sons like you were for me. Fathers are leaders.
It is a wise father that knows his own child. ~ William Shakespeare