Jackie Gingrich Cushman

In 1976, Jimmy Carter ran for president. He won and carried with him an enormous Democratic turnout in Georgia. Dad lost again by just a few percentage points.

Dad had now been twice defeated, but instead of giving up, he and his wife (my mother) decided to take time off of work, borrow money and campaign. The third attempt was the charm. He finally won in 1978 and was on his way to Washington. His persistence paid off.

Persistence requires forging ahead, working hard, and not giving up when faced with obstacles. As Dad says, “Hard work makes up for almost everything.” The key is to listen and learn along the way, changing tactics to achieve the objective. Of course, if you don’t listen and learn, then persistence can morph into Einstein’s definition of insanity: “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

My father showed me that it is OK to fail. If one is willing to accept the occasional failure, one is more willing to embrace risk, moving ahead unencumbered by the fear of failure.

No one chooses their father, not all children have fathers in their lives and not all fathers are good. However, the same positive impact holds true for “father figures” as well as fathers. We should all strive to provide positive role models for those who, by chance and birth, do not have a father in their lives, or whose father is not the positive influence desired. My brother-in-law served as a “big brother” in south Atlanta 20 years ago. This year he and my sister attended his “little brother’s” wedding. Clearly, my brother-in-law had a positive impact.

To the 66 million fathers in the United States for the unending job of being a father, you have an incredibly important job. Thank you.

To those who are father figures and positive role models to children, your work is just as important.

To my husband, an incredible father to our two children, they learn from you every day. Just last week, they requested smooth jazz, a sure sign of your positive influence.

To my father, who is also celebrating his birthday today, happy Father’s Day, I could not have picked a better father if I had tried, I love you.

Jackie Gingrich Cushman

Jackie Gingrich Cushman is a speaker, syndicated columnist, socialpreneur, and author of "The Essential American: 25 Documents and Speeches Every American Should Own," and co-author of “The 5 Principles for a Successful Life: From Our Family to Yours”.