Life Lessons from My Dad

This is a guest blog post by Dr. Julian Hosp – an author, entrepreneur, and leapfrog high performer. Julian was born in 1986 in Austria. In his teens he played professional basketball in Austria and then went on to become a professional kitesurfer for almost ten years. There he wrote his first book, “Kitesurfing Tricktionary”. He graduated from Innsbruck Medical University in 2011, but later he decided to employ his hard-earned skills and discipline in the business world, rather than in medicine. Looking back, he describes that decision as one of the hardest ones in his life, as both his family and friends expected him to develop a career as a medical doctor. In 2012 Julian moved to Hong Kong, together with his partner Bettina, to expand his business ventures in Asia. Today he is not only a successful author and entrepreneur, but has become a much sought-after public speaker, coach, and motivational trainer for individuals and companies all over the world. His life motto is “work-life-balance is all about doing that one thing 100%” and his favourite food is the fastest food available to save time. Currently Julian is still based in Hong Kong and when not pursuing his next venture is out playing basketball or rocking the waves, kitesurfing.

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A precious life lesson from my dad

Dr Julian HospWhen I launched my book “25 stories I would tell my Younger Self” mid November of 2015, people soon inquired why my early tales had been both about my mother and sports, but not so much about my father, which would normally be one of the most critical male role models for a youngster. My parents’ roles were that my dad worked as a self-employed architect, so my mom, who was a teacher before I was born, could spend greater time with my sister and myself. So clearly, both my sister and I did sports activities, homework and many other activities with her, rather than my dad, who was bringing the “food on the table”. This changed once I graduated from High School a few years later, when I spent especially a lot of time with him as I worked on becoming a professional kitesurfer. However I recall a very special event happened with him while I was in Primary School, where he had a large and lasting crucial influence on me. I scratched that story in my book in “The Brazil Story” briefly, but I trust it merits a story on its own, and so I wanted to talk about it in a special, separate story here:

While I was eight or nine years old, I was attempted to begin playing an increasing amount of computer games. Many of my buddies in school had been into playing quite a few violent video games, and they were talking about them throughout lunch or afternoon breaks. As probably every kid would react, I also wanted to be a part of their group, and so I put more and more interest and time on it. One of my buddies named Alex even had a small soft gun from his father, which he used to simulate the games in actual reality by hunting birds in his backyard or by shooting cans in a fixed-up park. My dad and mom had usually raised me in a very non-violent manner. They did not like video games that used violence, terrible language or guns. Especially they did not want me to use guns or similar things myself. So you may envision their horror, when I came home from Alex’ home one day to ask whether I ought to have a small soft gun myself. I had spent the afternoon at his place and the two of us had lots of fun “playing” with his soft-gun. We had set up a scene with cans and Legos to simulate an ego-shooter like surrounding, trying to shoot birds in the bushes and trees. We did now not manage to hit any of them still it was lots of fun and I wanted to be able to do it at my home as well. My parents were truly shocked after they heard me sharing my experience in joy. They had always believed that kids, who enjoy violence at a young age, might more likely become inflicted in crimes afterward. As a side note, there are a few studies about this issue that actually demonstrate that this was the case, but my mother and father simply did this out of a sincere wish to help me stay safe. Initially my dad wanted to have an outburst and thought about locking me in my room – I could feel his anger already building up. If you are a father yourself, how would you have reacted? To my surprise he then replied: “Sure son, let us visit the store tomorrow and have a look.” I was caught quite off guard as I had predicted an entirely different outcome, but kept my poker face to not cause him to change his mind.

The next day, as promised, my dad and I drove to the shop where we could buy such toy guns. My dad took a different direction than I had expected, but I stayed shut to avoid and last minute mood changes. Halfway driving he paused and asked: “Son, I have to pick up a brand new remote control plane at a shop here. It just takes a few minutes.” I was not all too fancy having to take any longer to get my toy gun, however I did not want to risk complaining and him no longer taking me to the gun shop after all. So, we stopped at a RC airplane place. I had never been there before, and was amazed to see dozens of people flying their planes. Some were powered with electricity others with gasoline. A few were really bright and colorful and others looking more like black fighter jets. At the beginning I wanted to stay in the car, but considering that my dad took what appeared like forever, I stepped out to take a closer look at what was going on. A boy, who seemed to be around my age as well, was just getting ready to launch his aircraft. He had it flying straight, then around in a circle, coming back to him with a touchdown just in front of him again. “Wow, this looks like fun!” I cheered. I had always been attached to flying (which was part of the reason why Kitesurfing had me hooked a few years later) and so as soon as my dad came out of the shop with a yellow Styrofoam RC I was excited for him to try it out. And with excited I mean thrilled. My dad launched the engine and flew the plane in a perfect circle over the entire area. I was so proud of him; he knew the way to fly these things on his first try. He landed it right in front of his feet with a perfect touch down. “Son, do you want to try it out?” he asked with a grin. Heck yes, of course I wanted to – what eight-year-old wouldn’t? I launched the aircraft, it took off and… I mixed the controls of left and right and flew the toy plane right into a bush. My dad laughed. The other kid was watching me, smiled and yelled: “Haha, that happened to me too the first time!” Nothing had happened to the little plane, which was extremely robust and so I was ready to launch again – this time, focusing on steering properly. I managed to fly a whole circle and now it was time to land… it did land, but I would not have wanted to be a passenger as the plane flipped over on touch down. “Ok, I have to get the landing proper now” I mumbled. On the next attempt I nailed it. I was now standing right next to the other child and both us of were flying our planes. His name was Thomas and we “clicked” immediately. My dad began chatting with his dad, who was also in the construction business, while having a coffee. Thomas and I “chased” each other in the air or attempted to fly figures. Other kids with their parents joined us soon after we spent the entire day flying our planes, recharging batteries and having lots of fun all together. What I enjoyed most was that while my dad hardly took any time off from work, he did so that whole day. Before we left late in the day Thomas asked whether I might come again tomorrow? “Of course” I replied with a smile! My dad seemed even happier and me about my answer and while he looked at me he wondered: “So, do you want your own plane for tomorrow or do you still need one of those silly guns?” There was no doubt what my answer turned out to be and 20 minutes later I hopped into car with my own beautiful blue plane. It was a bit larger than my dad’s and even more powerful. It would allow me to do more difficult tricks than the planes the other children had. I came back regularly to fly my model airplane with the other children on a regular basis. They even visited me at my home where we flew the planes outdoor in the fields. It was so much fun and had me forgetting about weapons and violent pc games like they did not exist. My dad on the other hand, did no longer fly his plane even one more time. He had hung it into his office, as if it was a memory of some sort to him. It nearly seemed as if my dad simply bought the easiest plane that day just to get me hooked… Nahh, I’m pretty sure he truly was into flying planes that one day.

Looking back to that story with my dad puts a big smile on my face. He played me so well and knew exactly how to entice me to get into flying airplanes rather than playing with guns. If you have no issue with your children playing video games or using weapons, then do not take this story as a raised finger that you have to agree with me on the points above. It is rather about the three key lessons learned from this story that can be applied to so many areas in daily life, especially as a parent: First, kids learn by copying others – primarily their mother and father. So because you are a kid’s first role model, it does not work to tell him/her to do X or to not do Y. You have to be a exemplifying what to do and what not to do. My dad could have just thrown a tantrum, started yelling and locked me into my room when I shared with my parents that I wanted a gun. But what he did alternatively was that he walked the talk and showed me what in his opinion was a good hobby for me to do. He did not just instruct me, he showed me so that I could copy. He took the day off from working (which he normally never would), drove me to the RC plane area and flew the plane in the front of me. He lead, I followed. I saw how much fun it was, and I wanted to be like him. He spent the whole day with me, and made sure I knew I was his sole interest. Copying other humans’ behavior is any child learns. For example talking, walking or many facial expressions are learned through simply copying other people’s behavior. So, if you want your child to do something or not to do something else, be a great example of it, so that your child can copy you. Just telling what to do, will most probably not work.

The second lesson I took away from that experience was that it is not necessarily how much time you spend with someone, it is more about the quality of that time. My dad could have just taken me out for a snack or ice cream, staying on the phone the entire time. Probably, I would have felt that all he is trying to do is to distract me that one day and would have dropped back into my old behavior soon after, similar like when you try to stop smoking or snacking on food without actually committing to it. The best way to follow through is by substituting one thing, with another, just like my dad did with attracting my attention to flying planes. As an example, you could try to replace snacking on chocolate with either consuming very dark chocolate or maybe better, with eating an apple or drinking water. Of course this is never a guarantee of working, but it increases its chances. My dad knew I cherished planes, and so he changed my wish for a gun, with the desire for flying a plane. It was not a foolproof plan, but he increased its odds – and succeeded.

Third important take away is that it is very important whom a person hangs around with – especially children. My buddies in school had been into violent computer systems games and weapons. Clearly, I was inclined in doing the same. There is an idea of anybody being “the average of the 5 people they spend the most time with” and this applies to adults and children alike, but probably even greater to the latter. So the best aspect of the story was that my dad connected me with Thomas and his buddies, who had been all into flying airplanes – and no longer into violence or guns. Again, it is no fool proof plan to make sure a child does not get into troubles when not being around trouble makers, however it increases the percentages. And that is what it’s all about. I do not have any children of my own yet, however looking back I have learned lots of great tips on how I am able to be the best father I can be in the future.

This story with my dad sticks out big time in my life and I am happy he did get me into flying remote controlled planes. It did not only keep me out of all troubles, but it did also assist me understanding aerodynamics quite early on. Once I became a professional kitesurfer a few years later, the power of wind and air came easier to me than to a few others. I hope you got to take away the same or maybe even greater lessons from this tale, and if you want to read even more, I would be delighted if you jumped over to have a look at my book “25 stories I would tell my more Younger Self”:

Have lots of fun, wonderful memories and may these stories encourage you to take the decisions in life you always wanted to take, but oftentimes did not dare to do so.


Dr. Julian Hosp

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