Friday, October 6, 2017

My Role Model and Mentor

Last year Adam Welcome and Todd Schmidt wrote about the need for mentors in education. It was a great post and I definitely agree that we all need mentors to help push us and get better. I was lucky enough to work for principals and assistant superintendents that helped me grow as a leader and taught me a lot about running a school and being a better educator.  I also have learned from some of the best educators in our country. However, none of these people are my role model. That title belongs to my dad, Dr. Hendrik Blom.

Riding bikes, one of our favorite things to do back in the day and still today.
So far all of my blog posts have been about education and my career, nothing about my personal life. Although this post is more personal, it’s impossible to think about where I am as an educator, without thinking about my dad. A little background about my dad. He was born in Indonesia, moved to the Netherlands, and then to America. He didn’t know a word of English. His dad, my grandfather, worked two or three jobs at a time to help them get by in their new country. My dad would also work, whether it was as a paperboy (riding his sister’s pink bike) or at McDonald’s, he was always doing something. My dad likes to tell the story of how his high school counselor told him he was junior college material and shouldn’t waste his time applying to four-year universities. He didn’t listen and applied to UC Davis anyway and got in.  He ended up going to dental school and orthodontic school and eventually opened up his own orthodontic practice in the Sacramento area.

Coming to America from the Netherlands, July 26, 1961.

When I was in high school people that knew my dad would constantly tell me that we were so similar. We looked the same, had some of the same mannerisms and also had the same temperament and personality. I thought they were crazy. Like many kids in high school, I felt being compared to your parents was not a compliment. How could they say I was just like him or we were even somewhat similar? I was fun, he was boring. I liked to have a good time, he only liked to work. I was always happy, he could be so grumpy. Obviously, those people comparing us didn’t know either of us very well.

Traveling with my mom.

Even though I thought we were very different, I did know that I could learn from him. Looking back, there are many important lessons he taught me growing up.

-Accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative, hold onto the affirmative
Not sure if this is his favorite saying but he definitely said it a lot growing up. He wanted to look
at the positive in each situation.

-Don’t Complain
We went on a trip to Peru to hike the Inca Trail. He hurt his knee toward the end of the trip
and his knee swelled up to the size of a volleyball. (This is not an exaggeration, it was crazy
what his knee looked like!) I told him he should just stay in for the night and try to ice his knee.  Not my dad.  He wanted to see as much of Peru as possible so he finished the trip doing as much as he could, never complaining once.

The only thing I can ever remember my dad saying at my sporting events growing up was “Go!” He just wanted to see me hustle and always moving forward.

-Be a Learner
My dad always wanted to see new places and learn new things.  Although he was always so busy, he found time to read and keep learning.  Even after retiring he is taking classes on Google drive so he can use those tools better.

-Do Whatever Needs to Be Done
When you run your own small business you have to do anything and everything to succeed.  Custodian didn’t show up to clean the bathrooms?  Better get on your hands and knees and start cleaning.  Nothing was beneath him and he would do whatever it took for his patients to have a successful experience at his office.

-Work Hard
I have never seen anyone work as hard as he worked.  

-"Some men see things as they are and ask why. I dream of things and say why not."
One of his favorite quotes and a great way to look at the world.

-Find what you are passionate about
My dad always encouraged my brother, sister, and me to find what we were passionate about in life.  That is probably why all three of us went into very different fields and are all passionate about very different things.

-Strive for greatness
He modeled this all the time by going above and beyond for his patients.

-Your biggest competition should always be yourself
Worry less about what others think and more about what you can control.

-If something is worth doing, it is worth doing well
My dad believed that if you were going to do something then you give it your all.

I am sure there are more lessons that I am missing but these are just some that stick out.  All of these lessons have helped me as an educator.  As a principal, it was helpful to be able to talk to him about how he would deal with different personnel issues or work-life balance.  He truly pushed me to be better and embrace challenges and see them as opportunities.  

Being an orthodontist meant checking his granddaughter's teeth early in life.

My dad is approaching 70 years old.  Although he has retired he is still following a lot of the same lessons he taught me as a kid.  He is still learning.  Anything he does he wants to do it well.  He is still willing to do whatever it takes.  And most importantly he is still “going”.  Like anyone that gets close to 70 different medical issues have come up.  And yet he can still ride his bike 25 miles no problem (although the times might be a little slower).  He can still get out and play pickleball.  He can still take his grandkids around.  

As I mentioned earlier, when I was in high school I used to hate that people would compare us.  Now I realize that is the highest compliment anyone has ever given me.  Thanks old man, you have been a great mentor and I am glad I get to keep learning from you.

Celebrating Dad's birthday with all of his grandkids.

1 comment:

  1. Beautifully written. We are so honored you are our son.