There has been no force more motivating in my life than healthy fear of my dad.
No childhood terror so great as the terror of hearing his footsteps stomping up the stairs when I KNEW I had done something….
(And its not like there were beatings or drunkenness or anything REAL to fear… it was more the fear of …. disapproval).
THAT is the most heart-wrenching pain of all, worse than any beating. Well, at least I imagine it to be; I’ve never been beaten in my life.
Even now! I’m a grownup! But he gets a stricken look on his face, frowning at me over the top of his glasses, and I’m instantly reprimanded.
A look a lot like this one:
(And THAT time I got the look because I snapped his picture with my phone. I’m not sure if it was the picture or the phone… because iPhones elicit eye rolls from my dad… a yuppy phone, he calls it…)
I’ve gotten the stricken look a few times in my adult life, when I’ve sprung things on him like, “I think I’m going to major in Psychology and Christian Ministry,” or “I think I want to buy an 80-year-old fixer-upper house,” or “I really want to trade my Oldsmobile for a Honda Prelude.”
He gives me the look, and without saying a word, I know I can’t make a living with a Psychology and Christian Ministry degree, I’ll go broke if I buy the old house, and I’ll get too many speeding tickets if I drive a sports car.
Just like that.
GOD FORBID I’d ever try smoking pot, voting for a Democrat, or joining a non-Baptist church (aka a cult). I’ve never done ANY of those things. And you know why? BECAUSE I’M AFRAID OF THE STRICKEN LOOK OF DISAPPROVAL.
So lately… when I’m feeling lazy at work — rarely, of course — I’ll motivate myself by picturing my dad sitting in one of my office chairs, watching how hard I work. And it lights a fire under me. I NEVER get so much work done, so fast, as when I imagine my dad sitting there looking stricken.
I’ll pick up my phone to send a text during business hours… and see the stricken look.
I’ll start to surf the internet when I’m not on my lunch hour… and see the stricken look.
I’ll start to make a personal phone call from my office phone… and see the stricken look.
Instantly, I know… You’re stealing time from the company. Get back to work. My dad, with his work ethic, would NEVER DREAM of doing ANY of those things.
Its a long, long time until my beach vacation and I’m feeling a little tired at work lately. I’ve been moving slowly. Taking an hour to complete an assessment that should take 20 minutes.
I think I’ll print out this picture and put it in a frame to remind me to get my head in the game, work hard, and make my dad proud.
The alternative is far too scary.