The all-time greatest influence on my life

This past Thanksgiving, I came across the gratitude experiment below. The video kicked into gear new insight for me on the importance of actually taking the initiative to express gratitude. (Well worth the seven minutes):

There is one person who has had a greater influence on me than any other human being and who I have looked up to since I was a kid. The experiment in the video above is great to think about it, reflect on, and even talk about it. But what about actually following through and putting into action what I saw, with one of the people I’m most thankful for? Challenge accepted.


Thank you for the dad you have been in my life for the past 25 years. Day after day, you continue to demonstrate your drive to provide for the family, to help me with whatever I need, and to continuously stick by my side. I’ve enjoyed experiencing how God has used this current trial to strengthen our relationship by growing us closer.

I have learned so many specific things from you over the years. Just a few include:

You set an example by always ensuring your career took a backseat to your family’s priorities.

Dad UC as a kid During weekly morning breakfasts at First Watch throughout high school, you taught me the value of setting clear goals and laying out the framework to work hard to reach them. (All while demonstrating immense grace when I arrived at breakfast well past our scheduled time every single week.)

You instilled in me the value of how to treat women after the time I hit my mom during a temper tantrum as a four-year-old. (I’m not sure if the lecture you gave me after setting me on top of the car is something I actually remember or if I have just heard you proudly retell your teaching method so many times over the years.)

While your passion for business has rubbed off on me, the years of witnessing you go about decision-making with integrity sticks out to me more than anything.

I’ve enjoyed bonding over sports with you, from road trips to Cincinnati Bearcats games to just taking in a game together in our basement. In order to help me avoid major pitfalls in life, you were extremely intentional about giving me the All-Important “Talk” reenacted in this video:

(I’m thankful you didn’t turn me down the wrong path to root for a school such as Ohio State or Xavier)

Never has your love as a father been more evident than over the past four years, down to the simplest of tasks. Coming into my room in the middle of the night if I need a sip of water or to turn the fan on. Getting up early before work to help me with range of motion. Being intensely focused on making sure I have had the best rehabilitation opportunities and adaptive equipment to help me continue to Dad Pike banquetmove forward.

I am thankful for the opportunity to have this chance as a 25-year-old to be with you on a daily basis, knowing that it has fortified our father-son relationship, which is something I will continue to cherish for the rest of my life.

I’m thankful to enjoy life with you. I am proud to be your son. I am proud to carry on the family name. I love you.


Writing an open letter on a blog for anyone on the Internet to see doesn’t have to be for everyone. It could be a phone call, a handwritten note, or even an email. Who is someone that has influenced you greatly? Have you let them know? I’m grateful I took the challenge presented in the Gratitude Experiment video. By doing the same, you will be too.

  1. jan beatty said:

    Please,please, please, friends, if you haven’t already ….connect with Ryan Atkins author of “flat on my back” blog. This latest blog has a great message about gratitude and also a very, very funny video, “the talk”…watch it and enjoy! Ryan, your blogs are memorable, thought provoking and entertaining… I am so happy that in this way you and I have connected. Blessings, my friend….


  2. Norm Miller said:

    Thanks for your wise words Ryan. Your father has also been important in the lives of many of us and a great role model. I hope I’ve been even half as good a father as your lucky DNA provided.


  3. Maggie Wilhelm said:

    Fabulous tribute to your Dad, Ryan! and a beautiful reminder of showing gratitude to those who have shaped our lives 🙂 XO


  4. Ryan, I love all of your posts, but this was especially touching. Your dad is an amazing man! We are truly grateful for the friendship of the Atkins family. Thank you for sharing your blog with all of us.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: