Millions of people know the character Richard Dean Anderson (a Minnesota boy, by the way) played on TV: MacGyver. So when I did a presentation in Chicago called, “The $4-a-week online newsroom (and other MacGyver tips)” people immediate “got” what it was about.
Although he is highly regarded in our community, relatively fewer people know my dad, Lewis Aase. That’s a pity, and it’s a situation I hope to rectify in some small measure through this post.
I wasn’t a huge MacGyver fan, in part because it began its run a year after Lisa and I were married, when we had four kids in six years. I didn’t have a lot of time for TV.
But another reason why I think it wasn’t “must-see TV” for me was that I didn’t think what he was doing was all that unusual. I grew up seeing my dad do things like that all the time. Dad never (to my knowledge, at least) used his problem-solving skills in death-defying situations, but he was (and still is) an amateur expert.
By “amateur expert” I mean someone who doesn’t have formal training, and perhaps doesn’t do things exactly like the professionals. But whether it was putting in a new shower by laying cement blocks in our basement (and eventually finishing it with ceramic tile) or fixing plumbing, installing light fixtures, laying carpet or linoleum (this was the 70s, remember!) or innumerable other projects, Dad just always seemed to figure it out.
Dad has had a strong influence on both of his sons, giving us a common-sense, no-nonsense approach to problem solving, as well as a can-do spirit. My brother Mark (of whom I’m really proud), got Dad’s home remodeling skills. In fact, they flipped a house together last year; maybe not as quickly as they would have liked, but they worked through everything.
I got more of Mom’s academic inclinations, so I’m pretty limited in use of Tim Allen-style power tools. The power tools I use instead are those designed for communication, such as Twitter, blogs, YouTube and everything else we cover in the SMUG curriculum.
Dad being a professional educator (he was an elementary school principal) gave me an interest in teaching. He also was an innovator who developed many new approaches and programs to better serve kids and help them learn. He didn’t just think about how things should change: he made change happen.
Malcolm Gladwell’s newest book, Outliers, highlights two reasons why I’m thankful to God for my dad and mom. First, Gladwell shows that so-called accidents of birth play a huge role in individuals’ success. For example, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs were born at just the right time and place to become software tycoons. But Gladwell’s other point is that this favorable environment needs to be accompanied by 10,000 hours of skill development to become world-class in anything. No one becomes successful without hard work…and lots of it.
That’s why I have been triply blessed. My dad and mom not only provided me the advantages of education and a spirit of inquisitiveness, but also the example of what Dad called “stick-to-it-iveness.” I have many memories of Dad just continuing to methodically work through problems until they were solved, or tasks (like cleaning the garage) until they were finished. And most importantly, they raised and instructed Mark and me in the Christian faith.
The life lessons continue to this day. Dad is now 78, but here is his current remodeling project, tearing a hole in the wall to create a main floor laundry room so Mom doesn’t have to go up and down the stairs so much with her arthritic hip.
And having my kids get to spend time with their grandparents (including working with them in the garden) is a true joy. Here’s my youngest, John, out with his grandpa yesterday:
Being born and raised in the land of MacGyver to parents who continue to exemplify that can-do spirit (as well as the Spirit) is cause for great gratitude on Father’s Day.