What We Pass On

As a father, I want what is best for my children. But no matter how much I work for securing their future, without passing on any substantial wisdom, they will lose what we have worked so hard to give them. I have always kept mental notes on what I want to tell them when they grow up and running a shoemaking business has given me several experiences I’d want to share with them.

  1. Never give up. Before I even started the business, I’ve had family tell me that Marikina cannot compete with foreign brands. Even when I was doing prototypes, criticism is a constant companion and that pushed me to study more and find ways to overcome our shortcomings and keep the brand evolving to become what it is today. Giving up is easy, but when you are already scraping bottom, it helps to look up and find strength to move on forward.
  2. Find joy in what you do. Yes it can be cheesy, but you must find the joy. That small joy is like a seed that is planted at the center of your endeavors. As it grows, it can sustain you and shelter you as you weather the storms as not everything will go your way. I remember the first time we have made a great wide fitting shoe and the expression of happiness the client made when he put on that shoe. Succeeding in helping others brings me joy and keeps me going. Happiness is fleeting, it is a temporary feeling. Joy is much more substantial and will keep you going in darker times.
  3. Respect others and respect yourself. Always know how you want to be treated and treat others that way. You will garner respect when you know how to respect others. You cannot buy respect, you can only earn it. It takes a lot of work to get it so take care of it. While others might seem more successful financially, if they cannot respect others then they are never truly successful. Respect is precious, it is an unseen currency which is most useful when times get rough. Even when you are down, you can rebuild easier as long as people still respect you.
  4. Always be moving forward. Do not be complacent. Always looks for the better and strive for it. Stagnation is the enemy of (personal) progress. Without the drive to better yourself, you cannot serve others and contribute to society. In business, one always has to keep evolving. We have to keep up with the times or risk becoming obsolete. Recognize a trap, a big puddle of water is but a puddle of water still which flows nowhere. Learn from those who have failed to keep moving and just keep evolving.
  5. Fear is the mind killer. I have borrowed this from one of my favorite sci-fi novels, Dune by Frank Herbert. Fear paralyzes and keeps us “safe” but doesn’t allow us go out of our comfort zones. A healthy amount of fear is good, keeps us from being reckless, but too much of it then we freeze in place. Sometimes, it takes a leap of faith and in business, it can be scary to let go of certain aspects of control that we have and keep to our comfort zones. Our comfort zones can become a trap. I remember when I first started Black Wing. It was scary and I pretty much didn’t now if it would work or not. A million things ran in my head and pretty much all possible failures were considered. Imagine if I let the fear stop me from doing this.
  6. Believe in people. Be ready for disappointments, but never lose faith in people. Always try to see the good, always believe in the good. People will fail you, people will disappoint but never lose faith in people especially those who you work with. You cannot do things alone, and you would need others to achieve what you want to achieve. Directly or indirectly, you need the support of others. Learn how to read people, and place faith on those who you feel can help you. In that case, help them also, believe in them, lift them up, help each other.
  7. Never forget who you are. Whether you succeed or fail, never forget who you are. Keep yourself rooted and do not lose yourself to your current situation. If you succeed in your endeavors, never forget where you came from and never forget what it took for you to get there. Never forget those who helped you, show gratitude. Stay true to your roots. And if you fail, never forget who you are also. You are brave enough to try and if you fail, just remember who you are and get back up. Be centered and know yourself so you’ll always have a point of reference when going through life. In business and life, getting drunk on success or wallowing in failures can make you lose sight of who you are. It helps to have a single point of reference which you can use to guide your actions.
  8. Invest for improvement. Invest in improving your skills and capacity. As with any endeavor, especially business, put some of what you’ve harvested back. Invest it on a new material, on knowledge, on improvement. I’ve never shied away from investing on things that can help me improve. Normally books come into mind, but in business there is also R&D and putting money in some capital machinery. Investing for improvement can help you keep moving forward and stay ahead of the competition.
  9. Own up to your mistakes. This is fairly simple, admit your own mistakes, take responsibility for the ones that you oversaw. Never play the blame game, you never learn anything new while at the same time it destroys relationships. Even if it is not your fault but someone under you, own up to it. It may not be fair at times but showing responsibility really helps build character. Character is not formed overnight but is formed over time.
  10. Pray. Never forget that the Father is watching over us. When we at scraping at the bottom of the barrel, look up. Find His words and wisdom, pray for guidance, pray for the strength to carry out His will. Remember that in the end it is not what you want to happen which He makes happen, but His will that He makes happen in due time. He is the source.

So these are some of the things I’d want tell my children when they grows up. These basic points are what I learned basically from running a workshop and from encountering various situations which are tied to what I do. I do hope that this has need a help for others.

Again, happy Father’s Day to all fathers out there. May we never stop learning and striving to become the more that we were always meant to be.

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