Seven life lessons from the original Human Connector
I now know that there are moments that change your life forever in a split second.
And before you’ve blinked an eye or felt your next heartbeat, you find that your mind, body and soul are somewhere else. The aftermath of these moments often creates new cycles – rebirth that follows death, light that follows darkness and triumph that follows tragedy; if you honour the space to find gratitude for the ebb and flow of it all.
I have always been enchanted by the beauty of the ocean – in its duality of calm and unruly, mysterious and clear, still and stormy. Even when I was struck by an unexpected wave and engulfed by its unrelenting force; I knew it was temporary and soon enough, I would land back on my feet. But I could have never been prepared for the wave of grief that life recently hurled me into – the sudden death of my beautiful Father, which surged this transformation I find myself in.
However, I do believe that life never happens to us – it happens for us.
Life guarantees challenges and victories, highs and lows, tragedy and triumphs, laughter and tears. But in every moment of darkness, there is light to be uncovered – if we open our eyes and hearts to it. At the core of it all, we are only ever in control of our perceptions, beliefs and actions (or reactions) – and when we discover and unlock this power within, it is truly profound.
That is why I am reaching for courage and trusting the duality of this wave, in hope of healing a wounded heart. So, in celebration of the light my Dad illuminated this world with, I wanted to share the gift of seven life lessons from the original human connector, the one and only – Arthur Lichaa.
By sharing my experience and honouring Dad’s legacy, I hope to uncover my lessons of grief – that is; G-R-I-E-F, which stands for Gratitude, Rebirth, Inspiration, Expansion, and Faith.
Lesson 1: Embrace life with energy
Growing up in a larger (and louder) than life Lebanese family with six siblings was an endless party of personalities. We are like the Brady Bunch with a twist – the uncut, unedited version that reality shows are made of. This was nurtured by the unconditional love of my mission-driven parents; who celebrated the individuality behind the collective, colourful craze of seven children and catapulted our growth with their energetic zest for life. Dad’s presence felt like a party – one that made the ordinary exciting and energised the room the moment he entered it. Whether he was blasting a Tom Jones tune at 6am on the way to work (singing all the wrong words), dancing the night away at one of our dress up parties, or welcoming customers to his suit studio with a glass of champagne on a Tuesday night – it was that same Arthur Lichaa energy that moved people and made their hearts smile. He was a hugger, who embraced people with his vibrance, warm smile and witty storytelling. Featured in every photo with his signature thumbs up pose, or arms stretched out wide embracing life; he injected excitement into the ordinary.
Whether you knew him for a moment or a lifetime, directly or indirectly – to know him was to love him. Dad ignited hearts with a love like no other; surging humour and authenticity into the many connections he shared with people, touching their lives with his vibrant spirit.
Dad energised life with a vitality that will certainly live beyond his physical presence – perfectly captured by the tunes of Tom Jones, “Just help yourself to the love in my heart…the greatest wealth that exists in the world could never buy what I can give.”
Lesson 2: Live inspired and you’ll never “work” a day in your life
The essence of inspiration and ambition resonated with me long before I knew what these words meant, because I grew up observing role models like my Dad. To him, work was never just work – it was the way he shared his gift with the world, it was a labour of love for our family that surged inspiration inside his heart with a fire. His mission was fuelled by ambition, energised with inspiration and driven by discipline, as he embraced the gift of each day to live what he loved. Unlike most people, his regular response to, “How was work today?” was always “Fantastic!”
Dad was a pioneer of his time who revolutionised not just the menswear industry, but the art of customer service throughout a remarkable career of over 46 years. He was a brilliant salesman because he could naturally connect with people from all walks of life, tuning into their needs with authenticity. To Dad, the honour of fitting a man in a suit was an artform through which he created masterpieces of confidence and memorable impression. Dad believed that a man’s suit was his very own cape for important, superhero moments in his life (be it celebrations or tribulations) – a symbol of his personal brand, possibilities and dreams. This explains why he became lifelong friends with so many of his customers, who entrusted him not only with the impressive collections inside their wardrobes, but the connection of friendship inside their hearts.
As kids, my siblings and I spent many Saturdays at work with Dad. While these days involved all the ice-cream sundaes and monorail rides our hearts desired, it also provided us with valuable life lessons in connecting with people and working hard at what inspires you most. He made up his own rules and ‘employed’ us at a young age, somehow making a 6am-7pm day fly by with fun. Although we were tasked with activities like neatly arranging stock and tidying the shop – he made us feel valued and proudly introduced us as his beautiful children to each customer. We learnt a lot more than how to tie Windsor knots working with Dad – we learnt the art of inspiration.
Lesson 3: Just get it done
As one of Dad’s famous sayings, this lesson speaks for itself.
High-achiever fever is certainly part of my family’s DNA, fuelled by Dad’s energetic and daring vision to dream. The secret to his success was his unwavering, tenacious drive to go for it and ‘just get it done,’ with efficiency and without procrastination. But he did have one disclaimer: ‘do it properly, or don’t do it all.’
Lesson 4: For the love of laughter
My Dad consciously chose to live on the bright side of life – uncovering optimism when hope was lost and laughter when sadness had claimed our smiles. He was the original prankster – a loveable larrikin with no filter, who took Dad jokes and April Fool’s Day to a whole new level. It is said that wit is the salt of the conversation, not the food – Dad’s sense of humour certainly seasoned our lives with laughter, it was his trademark. With a joke for any audience, he skilfully pushed boundaries beyond appropriate and often voiced what people were thinking but were too embarrassed or afraid to say, with grains of truth. He was the togetherness whisperer, who valued the essence of gathering people to share in life’s greatest blessings of love and the soul-soothing language of laughter.
Lesson 5: Believe it will be ‘all good’
No matter the perceived problem, dilemma or disaster; my Dad had the same response every time: “It’s all good.” He was a realist, so this was by no means a false sense hope – he wholeheartedly believed that there was an upside to every downside and held an unwavering faith that everything would be okay, even in the most unimaginable stories. He consciously chose courage over fear, hope over despair and possibility over impossibility. He role modelled a growth mindset and sparked my curiosity to uncover the other side every coin – an outlook that provided me with the gift of perspective and gratitude from a young age. He channelled his energy into the lessons behind the setbacks, the order beneath the chaos and knew when to just let it be; or in his words “put it to bed.”
Lesson 6: When you ask someone how are they are, make sure you mean it
Despite best intentions, the default conversation starter “how are you?” does not always invite the person on the receiving end of that question to share how they really are. With relationship dynamics, comfort levels and context at play, most responses are masked by the knee-jerk reaction of “good thanks, how are you? (whether that’s actually true or not). But this was not the case when my Dad asked people how they were. With authenticity and charisma, his genuine curiosity was echoed through these words and created a comfortable and safe space for connection. He consciously engaged with people and leaned into reading beneath their words to uncover what sat inside their hearts and minds. No matter how much time had passed between one conversation to the next, he remembered what was important to an individual and spoke to them in the language of their highest values. That is why people openly shared the good, the bad and all that was in between with him. He enriched the value of this question beyond an etiquette protocol and surged real connection into its meaning – a timeless, universal lesson in a world that craves connection.
Lesson 7: Dress in confidence, accessorise with authenticity
The wise teacher
The inspiring mentor
The natural leader
The stylish trendsetter
The witty storyteller
The infectious smile
The larger than life personality
The suit whisperer who turned every man into a gentleman
As the natural leader of every pack, it was no surprise that Dad was a lovable Leo characterised by confidence, exuberance and loyalty. He fit the part as King of the jungle with his big ideas and even bigger heart, full of generosity and determination. Dad had a loud, openhearted presence that burst with energy and warmth – a confidence that came from embracing the natural gifts he had to share with the world. It especially shined in the way he greeted people, whether he was meeting you for the first time or had known you for a lifetime, his “Hello” felt like a hug. The chance to make an impression was one he took seriously, yet did intuitively. I remember his advice on my first day of kindergarten was, “Be sure to say hello to everyone and when you introduce yourself, look them in the eye and don’t forget to smile!”
Dad wasn’t the parent who helped us practice for the Spelling Bee, but he was the parent who we practised confidence with – through his signature style throwing you in the deep end while he gave you all the strength you needed to swim. No matter the occasion; he claimed his role as MC welcoming everyone (be it a BBQ or a wedding) with his classic opening line, “Good evening ladies and gentleman!” Dad was a brilliant storyteller who captivated people with his A-B-C formula of authenticity, bravery and confidence.
As a leading and gifted menswear specialist in his own right, Dad literally and figuratively dressed in confidence – he was the suit man with a smile; an animated lively character who charged all that sat inside his heart with enthusiasm. My family and I smiled through grief, knowing that Dad would have greeted God on arrival and asked, “Mate, what is with that white gown you’re wearing – where is your suit?”
As I’m learning that grief is not a linear experience, it is certainly one that surged me into deeper transformation. It was the greatest honour to grow in the light of Dad’s love and I was blessed to share in half his lifetime. While capturing the undeniable imprint Dad left in everyone’s hearts over sixty-two spectacular years in this blog would be impossible, my heart is wide open to uncovering the lessons behind GRIEF in Gratitude Rebirth, Inspiration, Expansion, and Faith.
Bridget15 July, 2020
Maggie Lichaa27 July, 2020