A few weeks ago, a momentous event occurred in my family. My father, Steve Huvane, announced his retirement … for the second time.
To be clear, it wasn’t one of those Brett Favre situations. I’m referring (for those who aren’t sports-obsessed) to the legendary NFL quarterback who came out of retirement several times after finding he was unable to leave behind the game he loved.
My Dad took a more intentional path, spending the last decade in a consulting role after ending his 35-year career with Exxon (and later, ExxonMobil). Prior to that, he worked on freighters and oil tankers, spending months at a time at sea. Unlike Favre, he recognized when it was time to step away from the role that had, in some ways, defined him, and find a way to reinvent himself. But just like Favre, Dad is determined (to the point of stubborn – like me) and doesn’t do anything half-way. Like Favre, he wanted to leave a legacy, and he did.
At his retirement party back in 2008, a number of colleagues shared anecdotes and spoke about the work ethic, character, and faith that were guiding principles for my Dad. For my siblings and me, it was a window into his other world. It was also a blueprint for how to conduct yourself, both professionally and personally.
And although I learned a lot that day, here are a few of the lessons that stood out most; lessons I have tried (and will continue to try) to apply in my own career.
Take pride in your work. This was an ongoing theme during both the speeches and casual conversations that took place at my Dad’s sendoff, and I wasn’t surprised in the least. It’s something my parents worked hard to instill in us, and as much as it annoyed me during those wonderful teenage years, I’m extremely grateful for it now.
Look out for others. My favorite story was from a colleague who recalled being at an industry event several years earlier where she didn’t know anyone. My Dad, she said, took her around the room and introduced her to several different people. What may have seemed like a small thing ended up leaving a lasting impact. “It was such a classy thing to do,” she said.
Own up to your mistakes – and correct them. Of course, it wasn’t all praise. Another story that stuck with me was told by my Dad’s longtime boss, Dick Orr. Many years ago, a group of his workers (including my old man) took a very long and leisurely lunch… on St. Patrick’s Day. Being a perceptive person, Mr. Orr knew it was a one-time gaffe, and so he decided to forego a punishment, instead telling my Dad to go home, come back the next day refreshed, and “never do it again.” He didn’t.
Create and maintain a healthy balance. Despite working an extremely demanding job (which often involved phone conversations with colleagues overseas — during their work hours), my Dad made time for his family. We took vacations every summer, he was home for dinner on most nights, and he made every effort to attend school and sports events, even if he had to go back to the office afterwards.
Have a strong support system. One of the key reasons my dad was able to accomplish everything he did, while still being there for us, was – and is – my Mom. She held down the fort when he traveled, somehow managed to stay on top of all of our extracurricular activities and school work, made sure there was always dinner on the table, and was the constant presence all of us needed.
Needless to say, my Dad has taught me quite a bit about the person I want to be, both at work and at home. He has taught me to learn from my mistakes, know my worth, set my sights high, value family above all else, and, perhaps most importantly, know when it’s time for a new chapter.