5 Lessons from Dad that Shaped my Strength

legacy, dad, plane,strength, dad, plane, Strengths, Life lessons
Daniel Dopler

Daniel Dopler

  • In this post we will celebrate my dad and how his life lessons Influenced my top 5 strengths from the Clifton Strengthsfinder 2.0
  • My top five strengths are: Relator, Individualization, Self-Assurance, Adaptability and Arranger 
  • What is your favorite strength?

Disclosure: Please note that some of the links below are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase after clicking through the link. Please understand that I have experienced all of these companies, and I recommend them because they are helpful and useful, not because of the small commissions I make if you decide to buy something through my links. Please do not spend any money on these products unless you feel you need them or that they will help you achieve your goals.

April Fools Day 2018

An unfamiliar ring woke me just as I was getting my internal clock adjusted to the new time zone I had arrived in two weeks earlier. I had never heard the ring before and I looked at my phone. In a half sleeping daze trying to figure out what was going on. It was just before 8 am, Sunday April 1, 2018. A day I won’t ever forget. My Fiancé was calling me on WhatsApp which was out of character for our relationship. I answered the phone wondering what had happened because we had talked on the phone maybe once or twice before. 

On the other end I hear that she had been crying so, I asked her what was wrong. She informed me that my Dad had died flying his personal plane. My brother was trying to get in touch with me and I needed to call him. Suddenly I was awake and in a state of shock from the call. I thanked her, told her I loved her and I was sorry she had to give to the news. When I put the phone down and felt alone. Two a half years earlier we had lost my mom to her third fight with cancer. I had anticipated the day my Dad would die. But that was supposed to be years from now, not that day.

For mother’s day I shared stories of how my mom influenced the development of my top five strengths from the StrengthFinder 2.0 test results.  It is an article like this one that I will likely rewrite in the future. In that same tradition for father’s day, I want to share how he influenced my top five strengths.      

Relator

The Relator Strength represents people who enjoy close relationships with others. They find deep satisfaction in working hard with friends to achieve a goal. Think, “The circle of trust.”

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My Dads Role With My Relator Strength

Growing up, my parents didn’t have a large circle of friends. We didn’t go to large parties or host large groups. On occasion we would visit a work friend of my dad’s and spend the day at their house barbecuing and playing with their kids. It is what I internalized as normal. To this day I still keep a small group of close friends that I communicate with regularly. 

There have been times I tried to run counter to this. When I went to college I entered a completely new environment. I knew no one at this school and I had the opportunity to cultivate whatever image I desired. Growing up I watched movies, shows and saw in person the affect the popular kids could have in a setting. They were able to bounce around a party and meet people easily. I decided I wanted to be that person. 

This was completely out of the norm for me. I made a conscious effort to try and meet everyone everywhere I went. No exceptions. This was exciting to me for a few weeks, but that soon wore off.  After the excitement of moving away for college was gone. I found myself exhausted from going around and meeting new people while trying remember the ones I had met earlier. I began to notice and understand that some people were wired to gain energy being around large groups of people. Others didn’t feel the same way. I was that a mix between the two, but gravitated to the later.

My Use of The Relator Strength

After a conversation with my dad I realized that the dramatic change I was trying to make wasn’t necessary. The goals I had set and temporarily pursued allowed me to quickly expand my circle of friends. Like Marie Condo, now I could find the ones that brought me the most joy. My dad helped me realize that my normal didn’t matter about the quantity of friends but the quality.  

The Relator Strength is core to me because I still maintain close relationships with friends through multiple phases of my life. My childhood experiences helped to form that significance. This allows me to focus on the relationships that provide the most value. Like my father, I value those small times with small groups of people. I like to find the small details can only be picked up on by someone who knows you closely. With this strength I tend to prefer small teams where I can learn how everyone works best. 

Individualization

The individualization strength represents people that are intrigued with the unique qualities of each person. They have a gift for figuring out how people who are different can work together productively. Think about them like “a Casting Director.” 

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My Dads Role With My Individualization Strength

My Dad had many facets of his life that I didn’t even know existed until he died. For me I saw him as a father; but among others he was a husband, brother, manager, work colleague, pilot, volunteer and friend. When I think about his individualization, it is in the sense of his coaching or treatment of my two brothers, step brother and myself. 

When we were at his celebration of life ceremony I heard countless stories that revealed the other sides of my dad we never saw. I heard about the generous man who gave people jobs over higher “qualified” people because he could see their potential.  There were stories of his intensity at the sales table, his compassion as a mentor and his decisiveness as a leader. These were all pieces of my dad I never saw or at least never acknowledged growing up. It showed me that he was valued because he could help people find and work with the best of themselves. 

My Use of The Individualization Strength

Looking at my strengths, one of them is finding ways to get the best out of people. In my positions, pass and present, I have not had a choice of who I work with. I have to find a way to get to the most out of the people I have. I learned this from watching my dad coach my soccer team growing up. We didn’t always have the best talent, but he could identify individual strengths and place them in the right positions to give us the best chance.

  One of the more deliberate methods that individualization manifested through my dad was his purposeful gift giving. His gifts were thoughtful and measured. I always appreciated the effort he put into his gifts, especially helping us buy for our mom. We never had a surplus of money so we had to learn to become creative with our gift giving. This carries over to my life today when I buy gifts for people close to me. 

Self-Assurance

The Self-Assurance Strength represents people who feel confident in their ability to manage their own lives. They possess an inner compass that gives them confidence their decisions are right. Think of someone with “a strong Internal Compass.”

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My Dads Role With My Self-Assurance Strength

Receiving or not receiving praise as a child can be a determining factor in so many facets of our lives. I don’t know if there is a proper way to give and receive praise. With my Dad, I felt he provided just enough praise to acknowledge an accomplishment. We celebrated landmark occasions like graduations but those were also just expected. In some respects, my achievements have evolved to become my exceptions. 

I know that both he and my mom were disappointed when I choose not to walk in my college graduation. Neither of them had graduated from college. Being the oldest and first to go college was a way for them to have that experience. While I did not walk in my graduation, my middle brother graduated and fulfilled that dream for them both. For me it was another day and it was time to move on in a new direction in my life. 

As my soccer coach he allowed me to fail, then would ask what I had learned. He would ask the typical questions, How could I help the team to win? How could I be ready for the important moments? Before I can be successful in those moments I have to repeatedly and sometimes painfully learn through failing in practice. It was in those “failures” that I also learned the importance of empathy. Empathy has helped improve all of my strengths. 

My Use of The Self-Assurance Strength

What evolved out of this consistent work was a framework I still use to this day. I try something new, when it does not work I reflect and visualize new ways to try. Try them. Succeed or fail. Then again, I reflect. Obstacles become puzzles. Training is game, the lessons I learn will lead to the moments when those lessons are in need. In the end, I realized that I can accomplish any goal I set my mind to. Understanding that my reason for success has to be a larger driver than the fear of failing. 

My Self-Assurance is born out of the trials and tribulations I experienced on the soccer field growing up. Much of that growth occurred while my Dad coached me. It is those lessons I now try to pass on to my teams. It was on the soccer field that I found my confidence, my voice, and my convictions. My dad stepped up to coach my team when it had fallen apart, I was able to continue that growth.     

Adaptability

The Adaptability Strength represents people that tend to go with the flow. They tend to be “now” people who take things as they come and discover the future one day at a time. Think of them as people who, “like a river, go with the flow.”

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My Dads Role With My Adaptability Strength

Growing up I learned to love living in the moment. I played club or travel soccer that took us to different locations throughout Southern California every weekend. Whether it was a tournament or a single game, sometimes we had time to kill. 

I remember going to cool museums or trendy beaches to spend that time together. It was not planned, but an opportunity and the surprise were sometimes the best part. As a child, if these things were planned I didn’t see it. To me it was just a surprise to add to the plan of playing soccer. I have learned to embrace that adaptable outlook sometimes to the determent of my Fiancé. She is the exact opposite and wants a complete itinerary planned for everything. Luckily we have found a balance that works for us.

While my dad coached me, he had to be extremely adaptable. He knew nothing about soccer besides what he had learned as a spectator watching me play. That didn’t matter though because he learned watching other practices and from other coaches on the fly. During our training sessions he started to formalize ways to adapt during games. 

He taught us as he was learning. We learned to read the game and the other team’s energy on the field, then how to respond accordingly. We learned to adapt in a game that does not stop except for halftime. The foundational principles I learned from my dad early on allowed me understand and refine different tactics as I matured as a player. By far the most important foundation or principle I learned from my Dad is to keep moving forward. Continue to take a positive step forward instead of waiting for better circumstances.  

My Use of The Adaptability Strength

Today I view adaptability as a strength because changes don’t really shake me. Being in the military and with some of the jobs I have had, I thrive in those environments.  If I were to break down what adaptability is or how it manifests within me, it is simply this. Hope for the best plan for the worse. While I start tasks with a single outcome in mind. In the back of my mind I have thought through 100 different ways it can go wrong. With each action that can go wrong I work through the solutions far ahead of time. The result is a transition to a different course of action that looks seamless. Maybe my adaptability is just a cool way to say that I over plan. Allowing me to flex at a moment’s notice.  

Arranger

The Arranger Strength represents people that can be organized but also have a flexibility. They like to determine how all the pieces and resources can be arranged for maximum productivity.  Think of them like a Teacher, a Maestro, a Conductor or Collaborator. 

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My Dads Role With My Arranger Strength

For fifteen years after my dad left the Air Force he commuted 60 miles each way to work. On average he spent 3 hours a day in his car before and after work. Trying to win back time with us was very important and he was very efficient in everything we did. As I mentioned in my post about my mom, both my parents had to work together after they separated to get brothers and I to all of our practices. When they were my age, they were figuring out how to handle getting three kids to six practices a day. As I think about it now I have nothing but admiration for what a herculean effort that had to be. 

From my dad I learned how to maximize my time which proved to be very beneficial in college. The four and half years I was in college, I worked 40-60 hours a week with at least one or two jobs. I took 15-18 credits a semester and I played on the University Soccer Team. If you look at that and wondering, “man, something had to give.” You are correct. I graduated with a 2.93 GPA. In the absence of a high GPA, I learned important life lessons about balancing work, life and other pursuits. It kept me from finding a job immediately after college, but I adapted and kept moving forward. Sound Familiar? 

My Use of The Arranger Strength

This fascination with efficiency is another game I play in my mind. It started as saving time, but taking a supervisor role in college I started having productivity issues. My coworkers were inconsistent with output and time management. I remember having a conversation with my Dad over the summer. He told me I already knew the solution and that I had been doing it for years. After his unsuccessful attempt at the Socratic method to have me answer my own question. He told me to try and experiment with different combinations of people to find how they are most efficient. 

Today I use this strength in multiple ways. It could be setting up my kit for various missions areas. What order to go to stores to ensure I can do it one trip with the least effort. During this particular time, I am looking for ways to get the most beneficial training for my team. In most cases we would have months to work through and teach all the various mission areas we cover. With the delay in returning from my deployment, I have 20 days that are not accounted for to train. I have to focus on the core principles. The individual tactics can be picked up as we continue through the work up.     

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My Parents Dream

I wish I had more time with both my parents. It is only now, after they are gone that I have so many questions for them both. One thing that they both did very well was let me know that they were proud of the person I have become. I know the curtains are getting ready to close on Act Two of my life. I feel it is important to look at these stories and find the nuggets of knowledge. These nuggets will help prepare me for the next Act. These stories and interpretations are designed to help me find what I value in life. They also will set the stage for where I want my next career to take me. It was both of parents dream to raise three boys who are self-sufficient and able to live their own lives. To that ends they did a great job.    

Cheers,

Danny

strength, dad, plane, Strengths, Life lessons

Disclosure: Please note that some of the links above are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase after clicking through the link. Please understand that I have experienced all of these companies, and I recommend them because they are helpful and useful, not because of the small commissions I make if you decide to buy something through my links. Please do not spend any money on these products unless you feel you need them or that they will help you achieve your goals.

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