Four Things My Dad Never Told Me
Mom is my mom. Dad adopted me when I was two. But I didn’t know I was adopted until 2017, five years after he died. He raised me as his own.
Back row left to right: Danny, Colleen with baby Bert, Walter Rockwell. Front Phillip and Glen
Dad honored my mom’s wish that I not be told. Actually, everyone on both sides of the family honored her wish. No one ever hinted that Walter Rockwell adopted me.
4 things dad never told me:
#1. Dad never told me I was adopted.
Mom said he wanted to tell me, but he kept the secret out of respect for her. Actually, I never heard him speak poorly of her. Dad never told me to honor my wife. He honored my mom.
Honoring people reflects your character, not the people around you.
#2. Dad never told me to show affection to my wife.
I remember him hugging and kissing mom when he came in from milking cows in the morning. He was quiet, but not shy with showing her affection. When I say he kissed her, it wasn’t a peck on the cheek.
#3. Dad never told me to work hard.
I grew up on a dairy farm in Central Maine. Dad got up before dawn and worked till after dark. He was the hardest working person I have ever known. He didn’t need praise or recognition. He just did the work.
Just do the work.
#4. Dad never told me to love books.
I grew up seeing dad read books before he ate breakfast. Sometimes he’d read an interesting passage to mom while she cooked. Not surprisingly, I have thousands of books in my library.
Model the way:
The first function of leadership is, “Model the way.” Kouzes & Posner
When you read about my dad, you understand a bit about me.
Consistency is influence. I’m like my dad, not because he’s my biological father, but because he modeled the way.
How has the consistent behavior of another person influenced you?
AWESOME ! You are honoring him now, too.
Beautiful tribute to your dad and the importance of modeling behaviors and values for our children – they truly watch our every move and reaction. Thank you for sharing!
Actions speak louder than words. Love this post and the examples your father modeled for you. It takes more than genes to mold a life.
Thank you Dan, for sharing something so personal and so meaningful. This post is powerful because it comes from your life experience with your lessons learned. Posts like this can make you vulnerable because of the personal nature, but I have great respect for you for writing this.
Thank you for sharing something so very personal. You honor him in such a wonderful way with these life lessons. And you gave me another way to think about my father and his influence on who I am today. With gratitude, best wishes to you on Father’s Day.
I work now for Children’s Home Society of North Carolina, We care deeply about safe and permanent homes for all children. Our work evolves around adoption and foster care!!!I enjoy your writing ,but was moved by your reflections on your Dad! What a noble man…he had to proud of you and indeed, you are his son!
On Fri, Jun 16, 2017 at 11:07 AM, Leadership Freak wrote:
> Dan Rockwell posted: “Mom is my mom. Dad adopted me when I was two. But I > didn’t know I was adopted until 2017, five years after he died. He raised > me as his own. Back row left to right: Danny, Colleen with baby Julie, > Walter Rockwell. Front Phillip and Glen Dad honored ” >
What an inspiration. Thank you for sharing!
Children are like sponges and parents, especially dads need to set the example.
Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there.
Wow. That must have been been a shock. Great lessons. Thanks for sharing the story and the lessons.
Wonderful post Dan. I couldn’t agree more. It bears saying as well, that while positive examples / models are so worthy of following, it does not follow that negative models can’t be understood and then not followed. When we become adults (and I understand the variables that go into a statement like that) it is our choice to make the choices. Positive models are so worth following and growing – equally negative patterns we can choose to change.
Thank you for a glimpse into a world that was and describes what we should all live.
Happy father’s day to everyone.
Dan, your tribute to your dad is most touching. Obviously, he was an excellent role model. Norbert, you make a good point about our choice to make the choices. We can choose to emulate the positive patterns and avoid the negative ones. My dad was a life-long learner, embarking on an antiques business when he was forced to retire at age 70. He was a metallurgist/process engineer who could also sing opera, write extremely well, and who spoke English, Welsh, German, a little Polish and a little Italian. Best gift he ever gave me was on my 20th birthday—an old composition book of poetry he wrote when he was 20. Wishing Dan and all dads a blessed Father’s Day!
Thank you for sharing something so personal and recent. It makes my mind up on the nature -v- nurture debate.
Dan, thanks for honoring your mom and dad with this tribute. With over 400,000 in the foster care system and 100,000+ that are available to be adopted, we need more men like your dad who are willing to sacrifice to give a boy named Dan a dad.
A number of years ago I taped two broadcasts that I think might be of interest to you. Lois Rabey is a writer who lives in Colorado Springs and who found out later in life, as you did that she was adopted. There’s a part 2 if you want to hear the “rest of the story.”
Great work coaching leaders through this blog. VERY helpful and always well done. Your dad would be proud of you, I’m sure.
Dan; Awesome write-up and tribute to your Dad on Father’s day weekend. These are so powerful lessons; Honoring people reflects your character, not the people around you & Just do the work. These two I saw every day in my Father as I grew up. Now like you I love books and have read 1000s in my life and still do, I attribute my booking style to my Maternal Grandmother as my Father worked so hard all the time he never really had time to read for leasure.
Dan, This is your best post in 2017 so far, and there have been many great posts! You said so much more in 300 words that I can read this over and over and learn something new, about you and about the world! Thanks! Keep the posts coming. My favorite read of the day.
This is probably the best authentic leadership post I’ve ever read!
Such a fantastic journey for you, how blessed you have been. I can assure we all looked to our parents as guiding lights, some more some less. We were all ” taught to work hard” as you described, how can we fault our Mentors for that? I find no fault, instill these values and the cream will rise to the top.
Have a great weekend.
I really like number 4. That is so true. A soft answer turns away all sorts of anger.
I too learned a lot from my Dad didn’t say. Though he couldn’t read or write, he was a very wise man….and if you needed to know how yards of concrete you needed for a driveway, slab or sidewalk just ask!
1) You never build yourself up, by tearing others down.
2) Listen more, talk less
3) Be kind to people, even if they’ve given you reason not to (I’m still working on this one)
4) When people want to argue, or fight, don’t give them the pleasure. Make a pleasant statement and move on.
Dad’s been gone about a year and a half, but I still hear his lessons…though never spoken.
Your best post so far.
Teaching by example – oftentimes, deeds speak louder than words 🙂
What an incredible father figure
Thanks for sharing Dan
Condolences to you and your family
Dan, from my perspective, this is by far the most profound posting you have made in the years I’ve followed you! It not only caused me to think about several specific influences on my life, it challenged me to think about whether I’m providing a consistent model for others! I have a little maintenance to do! BTW, I was fortunate to have a Dad like yours.
Great thoughts and thanks for another reminder of what my Dad did for me and the gratitude I embrace for his influence in my life.
In addition, your final thought…Consistency is influence. So powerful and I am also grateful to work side by side with someone who models this concept for me everyday also. How blessed I am to have such an influence in my daily life. As a team of two WE mention consistency…consistently. It has such an ability to produce so many good things.
Blessed beyond my wildest dreams!
Dad never told me to write, neither did he see me writing!
Dan, PTL!! You were blessed!! Howie
What a wonderful story, Dan. Thank you for sharing it. You dad was a wonderful model and his memory and influence live on through your actions.
I love this. Thanks for sharing. The best of Father’s day too you
Beautiful, poignant, honoring.
I am the mother of an adopted child, so this bought tears to my eyes, not because it sad, it’s beautiful, but because my ex-husband told my then 7 year old son he was adopted against my wishes. I never wanted him to know. He’s now 13 and constantly reminds me that he’s adopted. This is the reason for the tears. I never wanted him to know and trust me Dan when I tell you that I understand why you mother wanted it kept secret. Thank you for sharing this!
Early on in my career, I had a boss that I still consider the best boss I ever had and the best leader I have ever worked for. This boss:
1. Never got rattled and never reacted off the cuff, so his decisions were never confused.
2. Admitted mistakes.
3. Always put his team and employees first. I remember him advocating for raises for the employees in our region while not getting a raise himself during lean times in particular.
4. Promoted from within.
5. Honoured people on his team by making sure they were included in decision-making.
6. Recognized others for their accomplishments, and never claiming others’ work as his own.
He modelled the way for others, never expecting others to do what he himself would not do, and many under his leadership went on to become highly regarded leaders themselves. I am so grateful for having worked in the midst of a great leader. One whose integrity resulted in loyalty that never had to be demanded (a rarity today).
Dan, this is so good. I actually hesitated to read this based on the title because my Dad’s voice in some critical developmental moments in my life was missing. But I am glad I read it. You helped me to take another good step in a long grieving process (my Dad died in 2005) by creating the value of modeling. My Dad modeled good things for me when he did not know how to put those things into words. I am going to enjoy this day, and thanks for contributing so strongly to it!
Isn’t it amazing how people learn by example? And also how we can learn from hearing about the experiences of others? Your memories of your dad and your thoughts on how what he modelled has influenced you can become the thought-material for countless people out there who didn’t have such an example before their own eyes. Through your words I feel as though I met your dad, and I’m sure that’s so for other readers too. In this way your dad’s example lives on, and he becomes the ‘dad’ of all of us… For some, he’s the dad they never had… Thanks for this post. The world is a beautiful place if we choose to see it that way… and that’s not being idealistic! It’s true!
Have a great day, and thanks again.
Dan, I know its already been said but this post is simply amazing and truly inspiring. I’ve always been a firm believer in the phrase “leading by example”. I have a small daughter so she is always watching what I do and say. Thank you for an excellent post! I look forward to reading more like this!
I love this!!
Isn’t it wonderful, and scary, that our actions can be more of an example than our words?! thank you for sharing!
This is such a beautiful post, Dan.. It reminded me of a quote I read recently: ‘If a man treats a woman like a queen, chances are, he was raised by one.’ So much of what we learn from our parents are things that are never said, but demonstrated.
I’m a new blogger, and I’d really appreciate your insight on what we’ve done so far…
Thank you for sharing this tribute to your parents, Dan. As a mom, a daughter, and a professional, it highlights the simple truth: who we are shows in what we do, and for those of us who sometimes struggle with the words, the actions are more than enough to communicate that.
As a fellow adoptee with a wonderful dad who also modeled instead of preaching, this brings happy, proud tears to my eyes – and reinforces my desire to model the right behaviors to my staff. Thank you, thank you for posting 🙂
Just superb! You have imbibed the right good qualities from your Dad through observation and the strong belief in him to grow focusing on work & progress.