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I may have sought a career in writing, but I was a late bloomer in the reading department. Though I ran around pre-school with books in Beauty and the Beast fashion, it wasn’t until first grade that I could actually decipher the words on the page. I’d weep through daily flash card sessions with my parents, frustrated that I knew the alphabet by heart but couldn’t put my knowledge to good use.

Everything changed one evening during dessert, when my dad told me to take a different approach to the learning process, stop feeling discouraged, and concentrate on fulfilling the task at hand.

“Don’t cry. Get mad at it,” he said.

At first, I couldn’t figure out what he was suggesting. He explained that I need to tackle the mission with everything in me and use my frustration to my advantage. Once I “got mad at” the task, I became a reader. Anytime I wanted to accomplish something difficult, I chose to “get mad at it,” and more often than not, I achieved what had initially seemed impossible thanks to the tough mentality instilled by my dad.

In the 90s

In the 90s

In 2005

In 2005

Nearly two decades later, I remind myself to “get mad at it” on a daily basis: Get mad at my occasional poor eating habits and eat a salad every once in a while (did so the other night, albeit with a ton of resentment), get mad at my inability to let go of things and shrug off the small stuff (this is going to be a lifelong battle), get mad at my evening fatigue by going for a run and forcing myself to block out an hour for personal writing before bed, etc.

It may seem like a violent piece of advice in nature, but it’s merely about fighting the defeatist method and using the negative energy surrounding an obstacle to get over that very challenge. It was the best, most constructive advice I’ve ever received, and I repeat it to myself every single day, sometimes more than once. Though no longer with us, his advice is with me in spirit 24/7, and I always know what he’d tell me to do. Another valuable aphorism of his? “Don’t borrow trouble,” a variation of (and better version than) “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.” Never underestimate the wisdom of your superiors. Mine have never been short on help or advice.

Have you ever gotten any excellent advice from a parent/authority figure that has stayed with you your whole life? Do share in the comments section.

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