That Good Old Fashioned Yellow Legal Pad…How My Dad Gave Some Good Advice

 

It’s August and on August 28th it will be one year since the passing of my late Father.

And so here I am writing my Blog and it seems quintessential that my Dad needs to be in my story.

This Blog is about advice and as Professional Coaches, we generally learn from our training that we do not normally give advice especially without permission; and instead call on our clients to discover what it is they have come to us for through a unique process of self-exploration, powerful questioning,  and deep listening with our own individual style.

If it appears like I am now going off on a tangent, please keep reading because I am now changing gears.

Do you remember the yellow legal pad?  It was a staple in my generation, before the home computer came into our world.

However, the yellow legal pad started its way back to me this past year.

First off, I recently went through a divorce and my attorney whipped it out in all our expensive sessions together.  That yellow legal pad cost me way too much money!

And then it came up again at The Seattle Coaches 10th Anniversary Summit I attended this past Spring as the topic around Brain Science came up in a context of how it is, that perhaps we need to think about actually taking hand written notes at times instead of on our laptops to improve memory outcome.  The example used was, “Hey, does anyone remember the yellow legal pad?” asked Coach Patricia Burgin.  There it was again. I had to smile and then remember…

The yellow legal pad. That old staple of my childhood.

As a kid, I remember so well back in the day when my Dad took notes on that legal pad with his green fine felt tip pen planning his basketball game strategy.  He tried to help me with geometry on that yellow pad during high school. In college he wrote me letters on it, kindly with a one hundred-dollar bill inserted with each letter many times.  Back then I looked more at the green dollar bill than his writing, and now not so much.

My Dad was so many things:  a character, a Basketball Coach, a man of great wit, a great speaker, feisty, generous maybe to a fault, and completely humble and kind.  At his Memorial Service, his Assistant Coach Tom, talked about what it was like to replace my Father.  And then it came up again, that yellow legal pad.

Tom described how bad he felt when he entered my Dad’s office that first day after he retired and everything was gone.  “I mean everything,” he said. “All the papers, all the pictures, all the coffee mugs, everything was gone.  In fact” Tom said, ”I felt guilty.  Here I was taking over a retired man’s job who loved what he did so much.”  And then he continued on that as he opened his desk drawer, there it was, that yellow legal pad with one and only one single phrase of advice on each and every page hand written in green felt tip pen.

The first page read:

“Treat your secretary well”

And then

“Treat your Janitor well.  Remember his name”

And then

“Treat the media well.  Even when you don’t want to.  Remember, everyone has a boss, everyone has a job to do, and everyone has a family to feed”

And it went on and on, until every single page of that yellow legal pad had some profound word of advice from my Dad to that young Coach who was next in line to fill his shoes.

There are some symbols that come into our life every day and remind us of wisdom, love, life, and just moving forward.

I won’t ever look at a yellow legal pad the same way again.

This advice was without permission.  And I think Tom was pretty okay with it.

Thanks Dad for continuing to inspire me.  I like how you give advice!

Carla Kerner is a Professional Transitional and Business Coach working to support clients manage and navigate CHANGE through listening beyond what is being said, providing motivation and accountability each step of the way, and for finding discovery of what works authentically for each individualteam or group.

 

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