I was a very fortunate child. I was born into a warm, happy family as child number three. Mum and Dad were both part of an aspirational generation that grew out of the booming 1950s who believed they could create a wonderful life for themselves and their young family through the values of hard work, thrift and disciplined saving.
Dad left school at 15. He had disengaged from school and the Headmaster at Perth Boys suggested he would be better off leaving. Why he disengaged was another matter, but like many young boys, his interests were anywhere but in the classroom.
Dad went home, told his father the story and promptly announced he was leaving school to pursue a trade. To my grandfather’s credit, he told Dad that he could indeed leave school once he had an apprenticeship. It’s no surprise that by the end of the week Dad had found himself an apprenticeship as an electrical fitter, and had left school.
As a kid, he would tell me stories about the massive cranes in Kwinana he had helped install, and the work at Maralinga, preparing for the first nuclear tests. I now see my Dad, aged 86 and as fit as a Mallee bull, through a different lens. He was (and is), incredibly useful.
His apprenticeship was a huge success…because he was useful. He was able to earn extra money for our family…because he was useful. His career thrived…because he was useful. He built extensions to our home…because he was useful. He got promoted…because he was useful. He ended up running a very large company…because he was useful.
I never knew it at the time but growing up as third child meant that I tagged along with Dad every weekend helping, watching, and learning. Most importantly I was observing his thinking. My Dad is a master problem-solver, builder and innovator, and there wasn’t much he couldn’t make, fix, or improvise.
So how has this experience influenced my thinking?
I guess I learned very early that being useful has its rewards. Whether it was helping Mum in the kitchen or helping Dad in the back yard – it made my life easier. Because I was useful, Mum and Dad rarely had an axe to grind with me. Less conflict and less grief led to more positive reinforcement = a better life.
I now realise that being useful is a transformational mindset to have for a rewarding life. The more useful I am, the more problems I solve. The more problems I solve, the more value I create. The more value I create, the more rewarding life becomes, in tangible and intangible ways.
What I have found most inspiring is that useful people like to hang out together – they feed off each other’s energy. Being useful attracts other useful people, and together they collaborate in creating even bigger value and rewards. That’s how I feel about Capital Partners today. It’s a group of useful people, collaborating to do useful work, which creates value for our (really nice) clients. It’s such a simple concept.
From such simplicity, I had no idea how profound it would become as a guiding force in my life. So much so, I have been coaching our boys to be useful and create value since they were young.
I’m now conscious of making ‘being useful’ a daily habit. It raises everyone’s game and raises everyone’s teamwork.
Thanks, Dad! David Andrew
Founder & CEO
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