Lessons from Dad – The OG Life Coach

Before life coaching was ever considered a real profession (okay, maybe it still isn’t), there was my dad.  My dad is the OG life coach.  A member of Alcoholics Anonymous for 41 years and a sponsor to dozens who bravely choose recovery, my dad’s been preaching the truth since I was in diapers.  

As a sponsor in AA, my dad has supported hundreds of people directly, talking them through their rough moments, reminding them of the truth, holding them accountable to their commitment to themselves.  As a young kid I remember him being on the phone every night with his “friends” – the people he sponsored – every single night.

Let me put it this way.  When I was seventeen, I begged my parents for my own phone line in my bedroom because my dad was ALWAYS on the phone.  I couldn’t get through a single phone call without the beep of call waiting interrupting the conversation.

Years later when caller ID came along, my mom, sister, and I would see the phone number on the display and yell in unison, “It’s for dad!” and just let it ring until he picked up. 

It’s hard when your dad is more popular than you are.

For better or for worse, the words that we hear as a child have a way of finding a home deep in our subconscious and have an effect on us for the rest of our lives.  I’m so blessed that these are the words that live so deep inside of me, they are a part of who I am:

  1.  “Lord grant me the strength to accept the things I cannot change, change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference” – The Serenity Prayer  

(In other words, surrender.)

Take the Lord out of it if he makes you uncomfortable, but it’s our attempts to change people or situations that we can’t that cause the majority of our pain.  Whether you want your boyfriend to be more romantic, your boss to be less of a dick, or you’re pissed because you’re late and stuck in traffic, our resistance to accept reality causes nothing but misery.

Surrender is not to be confused with resignation.  Surrendering is not about giving up on everything and laying around watching Bravo and eating Taco Bell for every meal because everything sucks and there’s no point to life.  It’s just about getting real with what is within your ability to control and what is not, and then surrender to what is out of your control.  And the way other people behave is not something you can control and it’s not about you.  

  1.  You are not your job.  (In other words, detach.)

When I was a classroom teacher, exhaustion and overwhelm were a lifestyle.  My dad would text me regularly to check in and I often wouldn’t respond until days later.  

Sorry I didn’t get back to you, dad.  I was lesson planning until late, and then I was on the subway, and then I was quickly stuffing my face so I could finish lesson planning, and then I was grading papers.

My dad was always understanding, and he would always end his text with the reminder:  You are not your job

At the time, I appreciated his support but didn’t believe him.  I thought- yeah but you don’t understand. I can’t just not do my lesson plans and not grade papers. I don’t have a choice.   In other words, I thought my problems were different and more real than everyone else’s problems.  My feelings were justified, dammit!

Not so.  Our jobs are just one of the many roles we play in life and if we attach to them and make them WHO WE ARE,  chances are we are neglecting some of our other roles and most importantly, ourselves.

  1.  “One day at a time.”  (In other words, be present)

The signature phrase of AA, the reminder to take it one day at a time, and keep your attention on the present moment is solid advice, second only to surrendering.

As a teen, I would listen for this phrase on every phone call my dad had with the people he sponsored because this is how I knew he was about to hang up and I could use the phone again.  

But the truth is, the present moment is all there is.  We spend so much time rehashing the past and prehashing the future, we often lose out on the only moment that matters, right now. 

  1.  “Easy does it.”  (In other words, chill the f#@k out)

This may be another AA phrase, but again, it’s a good one.  There have been times when deciding what to watch on Netflix has almost sent me into a toddler- like meltdown.  The same has happened when deciding what to eat for lunch and when I’m late for work and can’t find anything decent to wear.  In the grand scheme of things, these situations are not ones to get truly pissed about.  You rob yourself of the relaxation and peace available to you in the moment. 

Not many people get to grow up hearing these important truths on a daily basis.  I truly believe they planted the seed for the person I have become today.  And I’m so blessed to have been raised by such a wise, loving man.    


  1. Marisa Mullon on June 21, 2021 at 10:57 am

    Beautiful Dre. I loved reading this, it was really cool to learn this about you. I’m so used to hearing some of the same things, that I forgot how truly important they are.. thanks for reminding me.😘

  2. Keiko on June 21, 2021 at 12:53 pm

    I love this article. There is so much said beyond the words, it really touches me.
    As I read through I started remembering moments I had with my dad that were so precious to both of us. Especially during my young years, there was so much play and laughter. It feels so light and easy. A good reminder on how to approach life and feeling appreciation for dad. Thank you.

  3. Sydney on June 21, 2021 at 2:05 pm

    Loved this Drea, exactly what I needed to read today❤️

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