Thursday, December 3, 2009

Don't always listen to your Dad...

When my Dad tells me I am making a mistake, my ears perk up. Usually he's right.
One of the worst jobs I ever had was working for a small aerospace company. My boss hired me without the consent or knowledge of my soon-to-be co-workers, and I was treated with ridiculous condescension by a few of them. My boss seemed to really enjoy the sophomoric office drama that my situation caused, and he stirred it thicker whenever possible.
I was devastated. I had quit my position as a West-coast sales rep for a biotech firm for this new job. I called my father almost weekly to tell him how bad things were.
"Should I quit?" I'd ask him. It's not in my nature to quit. I try very hard at everything I do, so I really needed his advice.
"I would've quit a long time ago," was his quick reply. (This was one of those times he was dead-on.)
Heeding the advice of your father is not always the best thing to do, however. Consider Mr. Charles Darwin, the great proponent of the Theory of Evolution, and his relationship with his own father, a well-to-do physician in England during the 1800s.
Many people know that Charles sailed around the world on the HMS Beagle, collecting zoological specimens and fossils, and taking notes as the ship's naturalist. This was all crucial research for the basis of his infamous book, On the Origin of Species. But did you know that his father was very much opposed to the idea of Charles taking the voyage? From Charles' journal, here are The Doctor's objections to his son's proposed over-seas adventure:

1. Disreputable to my character as a Clergyman hereafter (Yes - Charles Darwin had studied to become a minister at one time! -JL)
2. A wild scheme
3. That they must have offered to many others before me, the place of Naturalist
4. And from its not being accepted there must be some serious objection to the vessel or expedition
5. That I should never settle down to a steady life hereafter
6. That my accommodations would be most uncomfortable
7. That you should consider it again changing my profession
8. That it would be a useless undertaking

And there you have it; Charles Darwin did not listen to his father, and he went on to become one of the most respected figures in science. He did eventually "settle down" with his wife Emma. They had 10 children all together, and when he died at the ripe old age of 73, he was buried with high honors at Westminster Abbey.

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