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Among the Things I’ve Learned from My Father: Doing Favors for Others

Performing in HMS Pinnafore!

Flash back to Middle School!

We were finally performing the HMS Pinafore, and the night of the final performance, select students were given the opportunity to spend the night at school for a stage breakdown party.  I was not one of those select students, and having already felt like the social outcast of Middle School (an entirely unique experience ;)), I was rather distraught.

It was not fair.  Behaving much the way a Middle Schooler does, I cried, yelled, and maybe even flailed about.  Desperate for things to be made right, I complained to my Dad.  He had done a favor (on what I cannot recall) for the teachers organizing this little party in the recent past and I wanted him to remind them of his help in a way that would demand they invite me to the party.

He responded solemnly to my plead, “I will not do that.  You don’t do a favor for someone, Ariana, just to throw it back in their face.”

My 16th Birthday with my Dad

That stuck with me (obviously, there are plenty of instances when I’m sure I missed out on learning opportunities like this).  Ever since then I’ve held strong to the belief that you help another out of a desire to give; because you want to contribute to creating a positive difference.  And  you do not do a favor for someone to later manipulate them for selfish gain!  Luckily, helping someone out usually feels good in and of itself.

Now I am also a businesswoman, and I understand that there are situations where there’s mutual back scratching.  For example, you may provide discounted services for your business to get sponsorship recognition of a community event.  Those situations are Quid-Pro-Quo, and they are distinctly different from doing a favor.  In Quid-Pro-Quo you openly discuss the terms of the exchange and have a shared understanding of the mutual give-and-take.  Unlike doing a favor or helping someone else where the only benefit to you is good karma and a happy heart.

In the end my parent’s and the other kids’ parent’s communicated with the teachers that we had felt hurt and left out.  The Teacher’s apologized and invited us (pariahs) to this special work-slumber party at school.  My Dad went to bat for me but in a manner in-line with the values he taught me.

Happy Father’s Day Dad – Thanks for everything you’ve taught me!

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