Top 10 list of things I learned from my dad

David Leader recalls life lessons from his father, Ecumenical Retirement Community founder and former Pennsylvania Governor George M. Leader

By David Leader

David Leader

Gov. Leader’s youngest child, David Leader, president & CEO of Providence Place Retirement Communities, shared a list of 10 things he learned from his father. He read the list in 2013 at Gov. Leader’s funeral in Hershey, Pa.

  1. Think outside the box—the great ideas never come from inside the club. Dad believed in challenging the status quo. He had lots of brilliant ideas.
  2. If you see a problem or hear about a problem, do something RIGHT NOW. Dad’s sense of urgency was off-the-chart. He was the ultimate “ready, fire, aim” manager—we all made fun of him for it, but he got more done in a day than most of us do in a week.
  3. Don’t be afraid to tackle the big problems. Dad loved problems. And he wasn’t scared off just because the problem was huge or seemed unsolvable to everyone else. He always believed that HE might be able to make a difference. He lived by the motto—If not me, then who?
  4. Stay curious and read voraciously. For the past 40 years or so Dad sent articles and books to his kids on an almost weekly basis—I confess I couldn’t read them all, and I am a pretty avid reader. He was always learning.
  5. Go for a walk almost every day. For many years my parents walked hand-in-hand daily. Dad was not an exerciser, but he taught me to love going for a walk. I am convinced that those walks were his time to clear his mind and enjoy quiet meditation.
  6. Don’t feel constrained to a linear life— you can have multiple careers. Dad was comfortable with change—he never was afraid to try something new. He shared with us that he had learned something valuable in every job he held.
  7. Always look forward, never look backward. Dad never lamented his failures or mistakes—he let the past go…and he truly never held grudges.
  8. Get your hands dirty, no work is beneath you. Dad believed that no one job was more important than another. He believed that ALL work has great dignity.
  9. Be skeptical of experts. Dad taught us to think for ourselves. He said, “If an expert can’t explain it so that you can understand it, then maybe he doesn’t understand it any better than you do.” He encouraged us to do our own analysis and trust our own judgment.
  10. Don’t suffer in silence. Dad was pretty healthy emotionally—he knew how to ask for help
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