I am writing this blog as a tribute to my greatest inspiration, my dad (affectionately known in my family circle as the GoodFather).
1984, just about my earliest memory including my father is of a racially motivated arson attack that occurred at our corner shop (which we lived above), in a council estate in Coventry. Our home was petrol bombed in the early hours of the morning and I remember the flat filling with smoke and my mother panicking as she woke us. There is vivid memory of looking down the flight of stairs to the exit covered in flames. My father held me covered himself in a blanket and jumped through the flames.
There is no other childhood memory necessary to define him when I look back at our relationship. The wind of change has brought us back together in 2016, as we begin work improving our home which will be a monumental tribute to our reconciliation and collaboration. As a father now myself, I look at his many positive characteristics and hope to carry them forward to the teachings of my sons.
He was born in Punjab, a brother of five. Aged just 7, he witnessed his own father’s death who was trying to diplomatically resolve a fight between two of his sons and was accidentally struck in the head, later dying from resulting injuries. He has a very rigid discipline when it comes to eradicating any signs of anger or hatred from his children or in the family circle. This justified by his living proof of the sudden destruction it can cause.
He is a man of peace. I can honestly say I have never seen my father be abusive, arrogant or not in control of his actions. He has never swore in front of his children, been a loving husband and an example of a good human being. Into my teens, we had developed a very close bond and he had spent time to teach me valuable life lessons and the laws of business often when we walked the dog or visited the gym together.
My father, like myself was ambitious and selfless in his pursuit of business success. We always focused our time around the business and at the age of 13, he set me up with my first business which was a video shop joined onto our then expanded cornershop. I would come home from school each day and then go and open my shop and the experience of running a business at that age was no different to running one now.
I would be always thinking about how I could improve the sales, marketing and constantly reconfiguring the store. School started to become like a break from business and looking back at my old school report’s it is clear that my grades suffered as I became more engrossed in the business. I learned basic book keeping, wrote my own film reviews and watched movies (literally thousands of them!).
As the business continued to grow, we seemed to be working more and more. Our days rather than 7 til 7 became 7 til 11. Weekends were always busy and the business was central to my upbringing. He suffered for his passion and became severely ill with diabetes and other stress related problems in the mid 90’s. As a teenager, I began to drift from him as I was carrying more of the responsibility and became full of resentment that I could not do normal things like the other boys around me.
The following decade I think as I became the man I thought I wanted to be, there were certain characteristics of my father which I perceived as weakness and so started to change myself into a more assertive and extroverted individual. My thinking at the time was that he had probably got ill because he bottles up his feelings and is too passive so people walk over him. In hindsight, I realise I was misguided by my ego and he was exercising self control and setting an example of the kind of man I needed to be later in life.
When I got married in 2003 my father tried to set me up as best he could. He provided me with the necessary financial support where possible but somewhere as a unified family we started to break apart. As I grew, I wanted to put my own stamp on the world and disassociate from him so that I could test my own business acumen. I felt unhappy and burdened by the family business and whether through influences external to myself started to destroy the relationship that we had built over the previous years. We tended to disagree on business decisions more and more and lost the very essence of our strength in unity.
The recession, business error and bad luck hit us hard and literally with finance companies calling in their collateral we were wiped out overnight. Business stress and failure brought a dark cloud over us and blame culture, divisions and a negative backdrop took over. In some conversations of recent we have discussed that may be we should have kept a separate family home and business or that we should have taken on less so that it was more manageable.
I still believe this experience was purposeful and will continue to provide me with snippets of thought and inspiration as I move forward in rebuilding my newer version of me. I look at my father very differently today. He is 67, appreciates his life and has not changed his ethos in still exemplifying self control. He manages his health, in particular his diabetes meticulously. I will see him most mornings mixing herbs from the garden, ground spices and blending various ingredients to create a new potion. (I Will post some his recipes later, for anyone who is diabetic to see if it helps)
A few years back his driving license was revoked because of poor eye sight and his blood sugar level was way out of control. He has somehow devised his own recipes and has reversed the issues with his vision, got his driving license back and maintains a healthy body weight and sugar level. The energy he once focused into business is now focused into himself and the results are clear to see. I have taken inspiration from him in my recovery and realized that his success does not need to be measured with a monetary value.
We definitely are creative people which I think is part of our genetic make-up. I have included a video below which I made as a way of expressing some of his teachings and realisations of my own experience. I hope you enjoy it and please like my Facebook page called “School of Thought” as it will send you small messages of positivism everyday.