Salute to a Tremendous Father
Posted on 10 June 2018
Ten years ago, I was celebrating my final Father’s Day with my earthly father, Charlie “Tremendous” Jones. The last series of holidays and events you had with a loved one before they depart and the first series after they are physically gone are particularly emotional. While Tremendous is no longer physically here, he's given me plenty of things for which to be actively thankful.
I am thankful he gave me the opportunity to move into a work role that fulfilled my growing desire to spend my time and talents on something impactful. I meet many individuals who are clamoring for a job that brings them more fulfillment regarding the things that matter. I am thankful he didn't have any expectation of my return but remained hopeful. I am grateful I said "yes."
I am thankful that the business he founded in 1965 is still alive, thriving, and profitable. Second generation businesses have a 70 percent failure rate. He left me with no debt, a tremendous reputation, committed fans and supporters, and a way to generate revenue so we could continue his generous and righteous use of wealth. I'm not sure I could have ever created something like this, and I am forever grateful to those who have the vision and drive to begin.
I am thankful that he wrote and recorded so much of his legacy. Not a day goes by that I do not find an old letter, a file with handwritten notes, an outline, or a recording or transcript. I am thankful for my father’s brief but truthful words to me throughout my life. I am grateful that he taught me and so many others that experience is only tremendous when you make it so. Life is not about capability, but intentionality. It’s about where you are going and not where you are.
I remember him telling me that I could either work for myself or I could work for someone else and that as long as I worked for someone else, things would be messy. I remember him telling me that leadership is the loneliest thing in the world, but also the greatest joy. I remember when he said to me that I would probably be bored if I came back to run the business because I was used to much larger organizations and budgets. I remember him squeezing my hand and telling me I would take the business places he never could two days before he passed.
My father was tough. He was no stranger to hardship and the true nature of people. I only knew a fraction of the heartache that touched him, but it would have broken most of us several times over. What he could not have fathomed was the utter lack of individual ownership in creating their own lives. He knew what it was like to be dealt every bad card in the deck. From an impoverished upbringing to a lack of schooling, abuse, and betrayal. Yet, he gloriously pursued life without an ounce of "woe is me" or "you owe me." Pity parties were for thumb suckers, and he repeatedly proclaimed, "No one is a failure until they blame someone else."
At the heart of his inspirationally infused life was an intense desire to learn and to transform. Every day was consumed with reading books and sharing with people so he could unlearn and relearn what he thought he had already learned. What a wonderous and humble way to move through life. No wonder his perennial best-seller bore the title, Life Is Tremendous!
I was teaching a class at the Midwest Institute of Organization Management in Madison, WI this past week when a gentleman was asked to introduce me at the start of my presentation. As he read my bio, he remarked that he too loved the same quote that I had in my intro, "You'll be the same person five years from now that you are today except for two things: the people you meet and the books you read." When he finished the quote, he looked up at me and asked if I knew Charlie Jones. He relayed that someone gave him a copy of Life is Tremendous when he was nineteen and it changed his life. It was an introduction none of us in that room will forget.
My father's sense of personal agency, of intrinsic motivation, of efficacious behavior, unlocked the greatness not just within himself, but within all of us who intersected with him on page or in person. My father believed genuinely in the God-seed, imago Dei, within every human being. He hustled his entire life, up until his last breath, hoping to ignite the potential principle within others. His three motives in life were to perform with excellence, develop with intentionality, and serve unceasingly. He gave others the means to recognize their greatness through such simple gestures as a hug, thanking someone for their smile, or a sincere greeting. He was radically relational in a world that looked to divide, denigrate, and destroy by racking and stacking us against each other.
The tremendous legacy is universal and timeless. It is more relevant now that it ever was. The legacy belongs to all of us, that’s why it’s thriving. I’m excited to be pulling together everything in the tremendous atmosphere into one place, The Tremendous Vault! My goal is to release it on October 16th, 2018, the ten-year anniversary of his homegoing. If you have anything you’d like included or some tremendous ideas of how to put this together, I would LOVE to hear from you.
Happy Father’s Day to the men who have started great things and cared enough about us to speak the truth in love and so we could become who we are today!