This morning over coffee, I was thinking about Kobe Bryant and his daughters. I’m so grateful that Elle Duncan from ESPN shared Kobe’s excitement about being a #girldad. #Girldads are unquestionably what the world needs more of. I know this because I was raised by one, and built two businesses because of the things he instilled in me, and like Natalia, Bianka and Capri (and Gianna), I also lost him too soon. Being a daughter in the “after Dad” stage of life is something I wouldn’t wish on anyone, but I can say with confidence that he’s still teaching me, just in a new way. It seems like "with Dad" I learned life lessons and “after Dad” I learned who those lessons made me...
I was taught that strength and power didn’t have a gender. Strength was grace and grace was strength. Full stop. I was taught that you can’t control much, except how you choose to respond to life. I was taught that “what the mind can conceive, the mind can achieve.” My Dad was 110% supportive no matter if I was in pink tutus and sparkles, or shinguards and cleats sliding through the mud to score that goal. He was at every dance recital and every soccer game alike, always right up front (generally with a video camera). He never pushed or pulled toward any activity, but in our house, if you were going to do something, he only wanted to see you doing it with your whole heart. He genuinely seemed to have no preference for the activity as long as I was learning and happy - and I think his ultimate hope was that I’d learn that one generally led to the other...
There were two things he would’t put up with, however. First, there was no “can’t” - he’d happily relinquish if you said you didn’t want to or that you weren’t interested, but you would never, ever get off the hook with “can’t” - not a chance. He was always very particular with words, the way he’d correct you would go something like this: “No, actually, if you wanted to, you absolutely could, but if you don’t want it badly enough to put in the work, that’s ok, but just say that. Can’t is a cop out and a lie to yourself.”
The other thing he wouldn’t put up with was being complacent with “normal.” When you hear “what the mind can conceive the mind can achieve” every single day, your mindset and the thought of complacency become mutually exclusive. He’d always tell me, “leave no stone unturned” - nothing is too obvious, too weird, or too impossible. Be more optimistic than most, while simultaneously being more skeptical as well. Challenge everything. Ask why. Question what no one is questioning. In our house, if you weren’t failing, you weren’t learning, and if you weren’t learning, you were taking the easy road. No shame in the easy road, but there was a sense of needing to own the road you chose and be proud of it... after all, how we respond to life is our choice, right?
So, in short, my #girldad taught me how to be a human who can create, explore, and if something hadn’t been done yet, how to be a pioneer and get up when I fall. Funny, as these words pour out of me, those are the exact words we use to describe the archetypes of our three coffee blends: The Creative, The Explorer, and The Pioneer (...and now I’m crying).
So, to girls and guys, daughters, mothers, dads and humans that will one day be parents, remember: strength is grace and grace is strength and neither have a gender. When you are proud of who your kids are, and they feel that - that's when something clicks. After that, all of your “you can do anything” pep talks will sink in, but if you don’t fiercely accept them for who they are FIRST, sparkly tutus, muddy cleats or any other kind of “different” one can dream up, nothing else gets through that wall. So thank you to all the #girldads (and all parents) out there (especially my own) who made / are making sure their kids are primed to create, explore and pioneer this world of ours. Your legacy is their impact. Our collective future is grateful for you.