A Letter From My Father

It has been almost 4 years since my father’s passing. Like anyone else that has lost someone close to them, truly not a day goes by without thinking about him and how much I miss him. I recently came across an old letter my father wrote me over 30 years ago. I was at the Naval Academy Prep School and I had just failed an exam. I remember the time in my life vividly. Real academic challenges were ahead of me and my confidence was shaken. I was 18 years old, out on my own for the first time, and I needed some help. To no surprise, my father was there with the following words of encouragement on September 5, 1986.

I pray I can be half the father to my children my father was to me. Please enjoy how a real Dad got it done:

Dear Errol,

Sorry we didn’t have more time to talk last night, but I understand the limitations of time.

Also understandable is your disappointment over the results of your English test. Poor performance in anything, for any reason, is difficult to accept. If it happened in Football, Hockey, Lacrosse, or the Weight Room, the next day you would be on the field hitting the tackling dummy, having passes thrown in your direction, practicing shots, throwing lefty, or whatever it took to correct the weakness. You would also seek coaching advice on how to improve and perfect any facet of the game you were having trouble with. Same procedure works in the classroom, except there is no one in the stands to cheer and immediately reward your improvement.

Studying is a lonely process. This is where character is built. Nobody knows what you are doing but you. There are other things you would rather be doing and could be doing and nobody to actually make you do what you are supposed to do. They can make you look at a book, but they can’t make you read it. Only you can make that choice and that is where the character starts to develop. Once you make the choice to do a little more today than you did yesterday, it becomes easier. There is a cumulative effect, but still no cheers from the stands. In fact, after you do all this work, that nobody but you knows about, you may fail the next test and you will want to scream — God Damn It I worked, I worked, I WORKED, and no one will believe it. BUT, it will eventually bear fruit and you will be able to look at others not doing so well and say — easy.

Nothing worthwhile happens overnight. You did not learn to skate the day you decided you wanted to play hockey. Stay with it son. The stands will fill up with spectators and they will start cheering.

Tom Howard called last night an pressed me into service for Saturday morning to film their scrimmage at North Babylon. He inquired about your progress and I gave him a full report including your refusal to play football which astonished him. So, on Saturday at 8 A.M. I will be in my old position behind the camera.

Must go now.



Errol Doebler is the founder of Ice Cold Leader, a leadership consulting firm. After successful careers as a Navy SEAL Platoon Commander and FBI Special Agent, Errol founded Ice Cold Leader to realize his passion of teaching leadership and helping individuals and businesses improve exponentially. Errol provides executive coaching and leadership training to individuals and teams across the United States.

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