Lessons from My Dad: Tenacity, Perspective and Purpose

Portrait of Scott SpohnThe fathers in our lives often shape who we are and serve as role models and mentors to us as we progress through our lives and careers. As we celebrate Father's Day, Scott Spohn, Partner-in-Charge of DHG Healthcare's National Strategy Practice, reflects on several important lessons he's learned from his father.  The three most impactful lessons his dad taught him center around tenacity, perspective and purpose.

In reflecting on Father’s Day, my first reaction is to look at what was “under the glass” of my home office desk. There were several pictures of my wife Sheryl, my son Carter and my daughter Libby – three of the most important people in my life. But the one closest to the center was a picture of my father holding me as a small child. This picture is super special to me because of the close relationship I am blessed to have with my dad to this very day.

My dad is a graduate of the Citadel, former US Army Lieutenant Colonel and senior executive with the ConAgra Corporation, and currently a communications professor at Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte, North Carolina. No matter the role through the years, no matter how busy he might have been, my father was always there to love, support and advise. While close when I was younger, we evolved into a much deeper relationship when I entered the work force. For the past 20+ years as a dad, coach and mentor myself, he has shared numerous lessons that have become the foundation of my work ethic. Very quickly, I’ll share three that have been the most impactful on my daily work.

Tenacity – No matter how successful, each of us has had times when the results we achieved simply didn’t match our effort. My dad is fond of saying, “Keep at it and good things will happen, and no matter what never give up.” I remember studying for the CPA exam many, many years ago. If there ever was a time I wanted to give up, it was then. There was one section that was really tough for me and when the results didn’t match my effort, all I heard in my head was, “Good things will happen.” I powered through that last section (after a few more tries) and good things did happen.

Perspective – My father repeatedly tells me, “Don’t take yourself too seriously.” In all transparency, this is pretty tough for me. I am a pretty driven, tenacious person who really likes to get things right. Like many of us, this challenge gets greater when work pressure rises and deadlines approach. When that happens, I try to keep it all in perspective. The work we do is important, but world peace typically doesn’t hang in the balance. So when the pressure rises I try to take a deep breath, keep my role in perspective and rely on my DHG family.

Purpose – As I moved into more senior positions, I sought out my father’s advice on leading teams and organizations. While we touched on topics ranging from people to marketing, he always came back to one phrase, “Lead with purpose.” No matter the size of the team or organization, leaders without purpose drift – while those with purpose steer. So whether leading a small engagement team, or a large services division, establishing my professional purpose has always been my first order of business.

What we do in our profession (in either advisory or compliance capacities) is not easy, and my journey as a teammate, coach and partner continues. Each day I tap into these lessons around tenacity, perspective, and purpose. After all these years, the lessons from the man under the glass have never been more relevant. In addition to my father, I have been blessed to have had outstanding coaches and mentors. All have immeasurably contributed to my career.

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