Boot camp for life

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CHIT JUAN

CHIT JUAN

I grew up in a household where breakfast was put away after 9 a.m. on weekends. If you wanted breakfast set for you, it had to be before then or you do it yourself. This way, my father reasoned, the help could do other things rather than wait for you to wake up and only God knows what time you would sit for breakfast.

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Next, the help were sent out on vacation during summer. What? Why? For us to better appreciate them, we helped in the kitchen, helped with laundry and other chores.

Third, if you wanted money during summer breaks, you had to work. Allowance is just for schooldays. Summers were meant for learning or doing. Or you could just watch TV and stay home and be poor. We all worked summers.

My friends would ask me if my father was a military man. No, he was not. He was schooled to be a dentist, happened to be a voracious reader, was an entrepreneur later on after college, and passed the Board for Dentistry. He was also a world traveler (during the time of propeller planes which required two stops—in Guam and Honolulu—and took 24 hours to get to the US West Coast).

I guess he picked up these rules for “bootcamp for life” while travelling, talking to his international network or simply by being wise and money-wise as well. I guess he did not want us to have a hard life like he had (struggling to make ends meet, losing his father at a young age, being “adopted” by an aunt so he could graduate) but wanted us to have a life that had discipline.

He was a good teacher. If you were late for a scheduled car trip, you will wake up with everyone gone. So you had to wake up early. And I still do. To this day, I remember his tips for getting on in life. Live simply but live well. Build trust. He was not Chinese, but all his Chinese suppliers trusted him like he was one of them. He could buy goods on “face value.” And he always told us to protect that trust that he built among our business associates.

When I was five, I asked him if we were rich. He replied, “We are middle class.” And back then, middle class was a good state to be in. You had cars, you had help, but you worked and worked hard. He never wanted us to think we were affluent or “entitled.”

He would go to our rooms at 5 a.m. and turn off all airconditioners. The change in room temperature will surely wake you up before 6 a.m. So we were up early. IT was a family habit. If you sleep in on weekends, you could, but expect no breakfast waiting on the table.

And he was a stickler for time. Be punctual he always told us. He would be at the airport three hours before a flight. Just in case any delay happened on the road.

We all ate together at dinner and breakfast. And for lunch, if the office was near enough, he would have us fetched for a “home cooked” meal. At mealtimes, we could not signal the help to bring us water or a drink. We stood up and got our own. Just like at a boot camp.

But, you know what, after all the rules we had to follow, I am glad we had rules. Later in life, even after his passing, we kept his rules at home. Come on time. Keep your promise. Simple living with discipline.

Thank you Dad. I am glad you got me into boot camp, even if I was the runt of all eight of us. Now, I see it in how my brother has raised his kids. And now that his kids have their own, I hope they continue to think about their own “boot camp” rules or formulate a new Version 3.0 to address the new generation.

When to have a mobile phone. When to get an iPad. When and how to greet elders. When to speak. And when to shut up.

Did you go to a boot camp as well?

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Chit Juan is a founder and owner of ECHOStore sustainable lifestyle, ECHOmarket sustainable farms and ECHOcafe in Serendra , Podium, Centris QC mall and Davao City. She also is President of the Women’s Business Council of the Philippines and President of the Philippine Coffee Board Inc., two non-profits close to her heart. She often speaks to corporates and NGOs on sustainability, women empowerment, and coffee. You can follow her on twitter.com/chitjuan or find her on facebook:Pacita “Chit” Juan. Email her at puj@echostore.ph.

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