A Father’s Example

From the September 1998 Trumpet Print Edition

Experts agree that a true leader is trained from early childhood. Strong families—with an active father at the helm—build strong leaders. Let’s look at an example of the kind of male leadership we are referring to.

Lee Iacocca, former CEO for Chrysler, wrote this about his father. “Whenever times were tough in our family, it was my father who kept our spirits up. No matter what happened, he was always there for us. He was a philosopher, full of little sayings and homilies about the ways of the world. His favorite theme was that life has its ups and downs and that each person has to come to terms with his own share of misery. ‘You’ve got to accept a little sorrow in life,’ he’d tell me when I was upset about a bad grade in school or some other disappointment. ‘You’ll never really know what happiness is unless you have something to compare it to.’

“At the same time, he hated to see any of us unhappy and would always try to cheer us up. Whenever I was worried about anything, he’d say: ‘Tell me, Lido, what were you so upset about last month? Or last year? See—you don’t even remember! So maybe whatever you are worried about today isn’t really all that bad. Forget it, and move on to tomorrow.’

“During hard times, he was always the optimist. ‘Just wait,’ he’d tell me whenever things looked bleak, ‘the sun’s gonna come out. It always does.’ Many years later, when I was trying to save Chrysler from bankruptcy, I missed my father’s comforting words. I’d say, ‘Hey, Pop, where’s the sun, where’s the sun!’ He never let any of us surrender to despair, and I confess there was more than one moment in 1981 when I felt ready to throw in the towel. I kept my sanity in those days by recalling his favorite saying: It looks bad right now, but remember, this too shall pass’” (Iacocca: An Autobiography, p. 10). This is the kind of father-leadership our families need today. Unfortunately, the majority do not have it.