When I was but a kid growing up in Ellesmere Port, an industrial town just outside of Liverpool, England, my dad Eric told me: “You can tell a lot about a man in three ways my son:
1) Play golf with him 2) Play cards with him or 3) Have a few pints with him.”

Uh oh. I play golf, I play poker and, I enjoy a drink or two. Made me wonder what people can tell about me.

My dad would, of course, subject me to the “advice-from-a-loving father” long version: “Pay attention Ray this’ll help you avoid the crackers, the bad guys; they’ll ruin your life. I wish my dad had given me this advice when I was your age because then I would have known who to hang around with and who to avoid. Crikey, if I had half a crown or ten bob [a quarter or a dollar] for all the times that I made the mistake of hanging out with the wrong crowd I’d be as rich as Solomon …” You get the idea. I’ll spare you the long version and write an edited summary.

His reasoning was explained this way:

“If a guy tufts the ball to a nicer lie on the golf course, or moves it a few inches from behind a tree, or marks it closer to the cup on the green, well that man is sure to be a rascal when the going gets difficult. Keep away from him my son. You’ll lose your trust in people and people will lose their trust in you, because after all, you are the company you keep.”

“Second: if a man gambles loose and wild when he’s playing cards, takes full credit for being a great player when he wins and then blames any losses on lady luck, he will be reckless in business and in life. He’ll moan about how he never gets the breaks and point fingers. Play against him son, but play smart. Be bold but don’t get caught up in his bravado and become reckless yourself. And don’t take it personal when he says you were lucky when you take his money.”

“Then, my lad, there’s time spent at the pub. After a few jars you can really tell what a man is made of. If he’s a sappy sod when sizzled, you know, emotional, kinda daft and mushy, well … he’s alright; buy him a pint. If he’s a mean drunk, nasty and violent, well … he’s rotten to the core. Avoid him son or you’ll be in fisticuffs on a regular basis – either with the people he drives barmy [angry] or with the guy himself.”

It’s been decades since my dad has been able to advise me directly and yet – perhaps more today than ever before – his counsel often guides my thoughts and decisions.

I play golf, I play poker and I enjoy an occasional pint (or wine, martini or whisky). As he watches over me now I wonder: … do I make him proud? How is my character being displayed? Is he pleased at how I’ve turned out?

We are wise to consider certain simple truths and common sense wisdoms like those of my dad:

  • Follow the rules and play fair
  • Gamble intelligently. Be gracious when you win and respectful when you lose
  • Never seek escape at the bottom of a barrel (or bottle)

To your success!