Discipline, Grit, and Love (by Michael Lopez-Shaw)

Before I begin to reflect on my parents’ book and ultimately their life there are three caveats which I feel are necessary to mention. The first caveat is I am no writer that is my dad and kind of my sister’s department but definitely not mine; I mostly just do math. The second caveat is similarly to my sister I do not remember much of my childhood minus a handful of memories which I remember very well. One memory that I remember very vividly is the day my father shipped off to war. I don’t remember exactly how old I was I just remember my mother, sister, and I saying our last goodbyes as the Marines were about to start pulling weapons and my father saying to my mother, “You guys should go there is no need for the kids to see this.” The last caveat is it is weird to read a book about portions of your life from different perspectives especially when it is from your parents. There are so many things you do not know and it is interesting to learn how they were feeling during these events. Some stuff is good to learn, some bad, and some stuff you just do not want to know about your parents. Let’s just say after reading parts of my parents book one of my favorite songs “If This World were mine” has now been ruined for me. But most importantly reading about my parents’ lives has made the root of some key aspects of what I value such as discipline, grit, and love soo clear.

Discipline yourself, and others won’t have to. – John Wooden

Discipline may be one of those cliché points but it is something that is a necessity. My family all have been great examples of discipline. Maybe they were not the best examples of it during their younger years but they have shown that they know how to get done what needs to be done which is an under appreciated skill in my generation. My mother however has always been the greatest example of being disciplined. This book reminded me of that when I went through the portion of my mom going through law school with my sister and I. At some times she had to do manage taking care of my sister and I and having to study. One of my favorite stories which she reminds me of constantly are the times she used to be studying for exams and would be reading out loud to me in this old chair to get me to fall asleep. Even little things like that I am always impressed by her ability to get what she had to done. She has always been focused and it is something that I have tried to emulate in my own development. Anybody I have worked with at the Academy or wherever will tell you that is always one of the first points I make in my leadership visions we are required to do.

Grit is a slightly more difficult concept and I have always had an easier time understanding it when I actually see it in action. My father’s actions growing up and to this day have always been the epitome of having grit.  If you have read any portion of the book up to this point than you know that my dad worked. And he did not just work a little bit but he worked A LOT, an absurd amount. My father has always been a work horse and worked whatever ridiculous hours or shifts he has had to for his family. AT the Academy you are always asked during leadership classes who your role model is and I always have to say my father because of his ability to work for his family. While my sister and I were playing soccer he worked at a bread company which he hated where he was up at the crack of dawn every day. Then in the summers to be able to afford things such as us traveling for soccer he would paint and work for the bread company. I don’t even remember how much he worked when I was really young but I always hear stories of him working 2-3 jobs. He never was working for himself he was always working for others specifically us. But even today where his job is not as physically demanding he still devotes an absurd amount of time and energy into his work for his students because he sees them as his kids. In physics people regularly describe energy as the ability to do work but I would say that grit is the ability to do work and my father has a hefty amount of it.

All you need is love – The Beatles

I hate to sound cheesy but it’s one of the biggest aspects of the book love. My family has a lot of it for each other and for people outside of our little clan. It is the aspect of my family that I take the most pride in. Whether it is my sister and I going out of our way to make it to each other’s events even if we are in different states or my parents putting the time and energy as previously mentioned for us to succeed. We could not have gone to the Naval Academy or been where we were at had that not been a quintessential part of my family. And I know people will say a lot of people’s have a lot of love; sure maybe they do but not on the same level as this clan. We enjoy spending time with each other and it always seems like we are working to get us all in one place. It causes things like me wanting to keep my close relationship with my sister even as we move farther away from each other and become busier; or it makes both of us want to come home instead of going to vacation spots any chance we get. Or the fact that my family has shown that same love they have for me for my fiancé and welcomed her to our family seamlessly. The closeness of my family all stems from the most ideal love I have seen between my parents. They are not always perfect and they make mistakes and fight and do all those things that normal couples do but they truly do love each other more than anything. It is extremely comforting to see for me for two reasons 1. I am a hopeless romantic and it is nice to see a happy relationship, and 2. Because as my own relationship with my fiancé get closer and closer I can always lean on their example. While I was reading the chapters about my dad at war I thought of my own developing relationship with my fiancé and how much I use them as a guide. Even from far away when they were both struggling they were still able to keep their love for each other strong by not focusing on themselves and directing their energy at the other. It is a trait that I have had others who barely know my parents see and have commented on how much they have an appreciation for it. As I get older it is something I hope only continues, gets stronger and that I can find a way to make a part of my own family when I have one.

This may sound like I am just trying to make my parent’s sound awesome which I am not. Everything I am writing is what jumped out at me most from reading parts of my parents’ book. Their book made me realize those aspects that I have tried to make my foundations for my leadership style and my personal life. My parents were not always perfect and our family especially definitely had some hard times. But we always pushed through and came out on the other end stronger as a unit it and I appreciate that. I really do thank my parents and am grateful for them paving the way and making everything I have done possible. If you ask them they will always find some low key way to take credit bless their hearts and you know what I got to give them credit. So I know they will read this and I just want to emphasize this part and say thank you for everything you have done making me who I am, making Alexes who she is, and making our family the wonderful unit it is.

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