Never Maroon(ed)

My dad imparted three great lessons for achieving success in life.

Two concerned how to be right. One covered that tricky ground of dressing for success.

And at the risk of delving too deeply into the schmaltz factor, we have constructed this week's Work & Money around those and other lessons from other dads.

It's our Father's Day special, a week early so you have time to mull over your appreciation for Dad, or perhaps ponder how to be a better one.

We asked a variety of successful people - politicians, bankers, teachers - what they learned from Dad. And we discovered that he plays a powerful role in formulating attitudes for success. Be sure to read Jim Tyson's article to the right.

Lesson No. 1. Among the crucial lessons gleaned from my dad: color coordination.

My dad is one of those people for whom sartorial splendor is sometimes defined by combinations of patterns and colors that make a bold and unconventional statement.

There were incidents from childhood where black, over-the-calf socks were accompanied by plaid shorts while the children cowered in the back seat of the car, dreading the possibility that someone they knew would view the apparition emerging from the driver's seat.

Dad's No. 1 rule of fashion back then was: "Maroon goes with everything."

Fortunately, Mom headed such statements off at the pass, gathering neighborhood support groups for immediate and intensive counseling, preventing any permanent scars to to the clothing sensibilities of my sister and me. (Well, not really. She generally just rolled her eyes and said, "Your father is wrong.")

Fortunately, on just about everything else, Dad was right.

Lesson No. 2. And what I mean here, is that Dad was Right.

Not "right" as in winning an argument or being correct (let's not forget the whole maroon thing), but "right" as in moral and ethical.

I don't think my dad ever did anything he would be afraid to disclose.

I have never known my dad to tell a lie. Not a white lie, not a "kind" lie, not a diplomatic lie. Not even when I wanted him to shade the truth. He does not cut corners on matters of ethics.

He understands that truth is power, that truth gives direction, that truth creates success.

And he was successful for many years as an account executive for several brokerage houses. I know a college finance professor who discusses my dad as a model of ethical business behavior.

Lesson No. 3. Being Right allows you to be true to yourself, and my dad demonstrated this in a remarkable way.

His dad was a towering figure in the United State Navy. Grandad graduated from high school at age 14, was second in his class at the US Naval Academy, became a five-star admiral (five being all the available stars) at the end of World War II, shot the occasional round of golf with Dwight Eisenhower, and had a ship - a Navy destroyer - named after him. (All four of us are named Lynde McCormick.)

Even before Grandad, the McCormick family sported enough Navy brass to sink a battleship. So, as you might imagine, Dad felt some pressure to pursue a career in the Navy.

He went to the Naval Academy but, after 17 years in the service, heard the call of the business world. He left the comfort and security of tradition and started from scratch.

That, to me, makes a powerful statement of truth as the basis for real success and happiness: Listen for what's right for you, then walk in that direction.

That became the tradition in our family. I heard the drumbeat of typewriter keys. My daughter has a passion for the arts, and my son just graduated college with a double major in Russian and business. (Recruiters, take note.)

Right on, Dad.

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