A Reflection of Greatness

Posted by Steve Nyhof on 6 August 2013 | Add a Comment

Today my father passed away; slipped from a calm sleep into eternity. There are hundreds of religions, and thousands of doctrines and belief systems about what that might be, but somehow deep within each one of us, we know something is there waiting to greet us and lead us on.

While there are many facets to a person's life, my thoughts run to the business man dad was, and how by example each of his sons and daughters have come to run their own businesses.

We grew up on what I call a hobby farm where we had a few cows, chickens, goats; a few horses now and then, and of course dogs and cats. As we grew older we got into cars and built dune-buggies. My three older brothers and I worked for our father building homes, doing everything from foundation, to framing, finishing and concrete flat work. We learned that hard work and perseverance had it's rewards and enjoyed a very good childhood.

I was nineteen years old when half of the family went to Africa, driven by dad's desire to help those less fortunate. After spending a little more than a year there I remember being very satisfied that what I experienced through this was already far more than what most people will experience in a life time.

Dad and mom stayed for many years traveling throughout Africa with World Home Bible League. I have countless stories of my own and from my parents that would leave most people shocked.

2008 changed everything for most of the family as the construction industry all but died. I went on to pursue things related to computers, software and the Internet, my bother Dave began to design and manufacture outdoor wood boilers, my brother Mike continued to build a few homes in other states but added solar to what he was doing which grew into many other things. I also have three sisters, all of them running their own businesses or in businesses with their husbands.

I share all this because there was something in how dad raised us that drove us to pursue things beyond the work place. I remember when I walked into the unemployment building, filled out some paper work, but then left, never to return. I just would not allow myself to go down that road. Suffering for a time was better than giving into a life where climbing the corporate latter would lead only to a financially lean retirement I would just have to settle for.

While dad most likely could not put his finger on how this happened, I am grateful for the great leader he was in instilling leadership, perseverance and integrity in each of his children. He was an unstoppable force.

Dad was from a generation where showing emotions was somehow taboo. Over the past few weeks I have been thinking about all of this and realized that while many great traits were carried over to us, the emotional side of life and love came with resistance.

The last four years of my life and that of my family has been extraordinary. Some very low moments for sure. But this journey took me into a place my father would find remote and wrong to much of what he believed, or at least would give himself to embrace. He and I would not agree on a number of things concerning spiritual things, even though if given time, he would find that we just have different perspectives to the same end.

But there is one thing I will always remember that he said on a phone call a few years back, he said,

"At the center of the universe is love and laughter." Bernie Nyhof

That was something that I knew fit into his belief system, and yet somehow unspoken by a belief where things just shouldn't be so simple and open. For me, it is a statement I will treasure and never forget, because it sums up just how simple life should be.

As I reflect on the life that dad lived, I can say with confidence that he really lived! And I can say the same about my mother.

My dad was a great example to his children and those who knew him, of great leadership. Not perfect, but great nonetheless. When things got bad, he just kept going as if it was just another day. He also let us do what we wanted with our money, and he let us waste it on things that would teach us through failing. I don't think he knew this, but it is what happened that allowed us to be creative, invest in things only to fail, and try again.

I remember reading the book "Rich Dad, Poor Dad" by Robert Kiyosaki, and talking to my brother Mike about it. Mike's response was that dad let us fail over and over without condemnation. It became a part of our makeup and allowed us to venture into anything our hearts lead us too without fear of loss. Loss was just part of the equation to building anything.

What about you? Are you afraid of the unknowns in life that lie ahead, of failing or losing? Or are you fearless and ready to take on whatever challenge come your way? Are you willing to follow your heart into very uncomfortable places, knocking down the walls of self-doubt, self-pity and fear that is keeping you from accomplishing the goals you set out to do? Are you willing to fail, to try and fail again and again, but always moving forward as though it is just another day?

Over the last few weeks I have had the great pleasure of feeding my father and helping him drink a little water. He would cough and gasp for air, hanging on to what life he still had. He slept a lot, but on one day I held his hand and thanked him for all the gifts he instilled in me. I would not be the man I am today if it were not for many of the things I may never know that has motivated me to keep going no matter what.

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