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Three important lessons my dad taught me (happy birthday, daddy!)

If you read my last blog post, you may recall that I mentioned my dad and the significant influence he's had on me since I was a little girl. The man has officially turned 60 today while I'm on the other side of the globe, so I think the best way to honor him is to share with you three important lessons my dad taught me that I find relevant to all of us, especially during such difficult times like this.

The first lesson — also the most important one — is self-care. His favorite analogy for the importance of self-care and why it is important is the 'oxygen mask rule' that you hear flight attendants remind us of safety instructions every time we fly, somewhat like this: “Should the cabin lose pressure, oxygen masks will drop from the overhead area. Please place the mask over your own mouth and nose before assisting others.” Growing up, I've always strived to be as helpful to others as much as I can, but I also understand that I need to take good care of myself so that I am well and can continue helping others.

The second lesson — perhaps the most intriguing to those of us who work — is how to be a leader. Like most countries, when Vietnam first got hit by the pandemic, many companies also struggled to stay in business which resulted in a spike in the unemployment rate. However, when I asked my dad what his plan was if the situation continued for long and if he would have to consider the possibility of furloughs or layoffs, he told me firmly: "If I ever have to let people go because of the pandemic, I should be the first one to be let go." He's still managed to live up to his ideology and his words until today. Growing up, I've known a true leader, and I understand that a leader works to serve others first, not to be served first.

The third lesson — a very personal one of mine — is how to let go of stress. I still remember when I joined my dad and his company years ago on a trip to Yen Tu Mountain (known as the capital of Buddhism in Vietnam for its long history of over 700 years), I almost ran out of breath while trying to catch up with other people's pace on the hike as it was a real difficult one! Noticing that I wasn't feeling okay, my dad told me that we should stop and take a break. As we watched other people passing by, he said: "There is no rush. Go at your own pace. Whenever you feel exhausted, lie down and imagine that you are transferring all your exhaustion to Mother Earth. Once your exhaustion is absorbed and taken away, we will continue hiking." So Mother Earth did her trick to me and we did finish our hike together that day. Growing up, I felt restless many times, but I always remembered that I could lie down and Mother Earth would help take my stress away.

I hope you find them as helpful as I do, too :)

Happy 60th birthday, Daddy! x


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