Re-posted from Chris Langathianos’ blog Brandigo:

The town in which I live, Manchester-by-the-Sea, lost a special dad on April 25th – John Donovan. At just 43 years old, he fought a heroic battle against adrenal cancer.

Though I had only met him a few times, John was a seemingly legendary father, husband and friend. That is what people always recall about John. He was an exceptionally kind person. To me, it was always particularly meaningful that he was described this way because John was also a prolific businessman and did so much for our community, including donating 30 acres of conservation land to the town of Manchester.

My dear friend, Ben Sturgell, described John this way:

“He was always the smartest, most adventurous, kindest, most successful, and all around coolest guy in any room.  He’d never tell you any of these things, but those of us who were lucky enough to know John, know that these attributes are all facts. 

Even though John was all of those incredible qualities, he never talked about himself, but instead loved to hear about you or if he was sharing, he loved to tell stories about his beautiful, smart, talented wife Megan (“Digs” “Diggity”), and his two amazing children Skylar and Jax – who are growing into brilliant adventurers just like their mom and dad.”

As John fought his battle, he recorded a series of short video messages – life lessons – for his beautiful children, Skylar and Jackson. These “Daddy-isms” as they have become known, include remarkable insight into the kind of man John was, his love for his family, and simply serve as incredible lessons that we should all remember.

The rest of my blog is not my blog. It’s John Donovan’s blog, and I feel honored to be able to share his wisdom with you.

Happy Fathers’ Day, Dad, and to all of the dads out there.

“Daddy-isms” – by John J. Donovan Jr.

NOTE: for a couple of the ‘Daddyisms’ you can click on the link and see John’s video message.

Be Different: Never follow the crowd – be a leader and have the courage to think differently and act differently – always question things – never, ever be a follower or strive to be average, or common, or ordinary – nothing ordinary has ever been, or ever will be, extraordinary.

Love: Love life – love each other – love people – love nature – love beauty – love the world – love yourselves. Just love. Love is a wonderful thing. It is truly better to have loved and lost than never to have loved.

Seek out variance: Change and variance shape the world – people who dare to be different and think differently are the only ones that truly move the world.

Be happy: Happiness does not just happen to you; you need to find it, create it, get it and embrace it.

Courage: Courage is not the absence of fear – courage is being incredibly scared and going forward anyway. I am scared all of the time.

Nervous: Being nervous is a gift – if you are never nervous, you are not doing anything worth doing. If it means something, you will be nervous.

Failure: Don’t fear failure. The fear of regret should outweigh the fear of failure or rejection – always try and never, ever give up. When you fail or are rejected, learn from it, and then get right back up and keep trying.

Risk: Great love and great achievements always involve great risk – be prepared to take risks.

Mistakes: When you realize you’ve made a mistake, learn from it, and then take immediate steps to correct it. Never fail to say that you are sorry. Not only is this the right thing to do, it is incredibly liberating.


Gratitude: Be grateful – to people, to life, and for all that you have – have the awareness to realize that you are happy when you are happy. Many, even most, people only realize they were happy after that happiness has gone away. Feel happiness while you are in that moment.

Share: Be kinder and more generous than necessary. Giving has always brought me much more pleasure and happiness than receiving.

Optimism: Become the most positive, optimistic and enthusiastic person that you know. You decide how your life is – it doesn’t decide for you. If you smile you will be happy – if you believe it then you can be it – if you believe that things can be done, then they can get done.

Beauty: Always keep something beautiful near you – whether it is a picture, music, a scent, or a simple daisy in a glass – take the time to feel that beauty; it is everywhere. I have always loved beauty in so many forms.

Enjoy life: You need very little to be happy – never live a life whereby happiness is always dependent on “today” being better than “yesterday,” or you will never be happy – perspective is more important than anything – just look up at a beautiful blue sky, open your arms, smile, and say “It is incredible to be alive.”

Knowledge: Be curious – always seek out and be excited by knowledge and its pursuit. Be prepared to change your thoughts often. Be mentally flexible. Realize how little we know – about the world, about the universe, about life, about “why.” As soon as you think that you know it fully, you probably don’t.

Self-confidence: There is nothing more attractive than self-confidence and independence. Not arrogance, but confidence. Let your actions speak for you – greatness never needs to be boasted about; it is self-evident.

Inspiration: Be inspired – by greatness in character, knowledge, achievement, sports, nature, spirituality, beauty, art, generosity, … just be inspired. Likewise, seek to inspire others by all that you are and all that you do.

Introspection: Be willing to accept and seek out advice and criticism; constantly examine your own actions and thoughts. It is hard, very hard to see your own faults and improve – you will need help from others and you will need humility.

Act: Never sit on the sidelines. Remember that .0000001 is infinitely times greater than 0, but 100 is only 100 times greater than 1. The first step, the initiative, the creation, going from 0 to anything, is the hardest and most important step. Dare to act; dare to create from nothing.

Stick Together: Mommy, Jax, and Skylar – you will always be there for each other; never give up on each other and always look to each other.”