Advice To Your Younger Self

What’s the best advice you would give to your younger self? Would you change history by telling him about his future?  I think, most of us know that changing moments in history might have devastating effects on your present and future.  Therefore, I find it a fool’s mission to re-think past decisions.  I don’t mean you shouldn’t analyze mistakes to avoid repeating them in the future.  I mean exploring the “what if” you made an alternate decision based on the known outcome.  At least part of the problem is, you still don’t know everywhere your life is heading and you might just be altering the future by taking that mistake away from your past.  My analyzer hurts just thinking about it.

Knowing the day of your own death would be equally troubling.  Sure, you might live life more intensely and without fear of dying sooner.  But, knowing your final day would weigh on your mind your whole life.  We all know the approximate human life cycle, but we don’t know what future challenges may or may not kill us. Those that don’t kill us make us stronger and wiser.

Hopefully, I’ll live to be a relatively healthy centenarian with a sound mind.  But, chances are I could be killed tomorrow or I could get to 100 and be trapped deep in my mind by dementia.  How would knowing the future change my decision making process?  Isn’t that a scary question to ponder?  So, I won’t tell my younger self WHAT is going to happen.  Instead, I want to give him some general advice:

TRAITS

  • Be kind, fair, loving, forgiving, vulnerable, faithful and adventurous.
  • Be less judgmental – Trust your gut instinct, but give people the benefit of the doubt.
  • KNOW less and BELIEVE more
    • You control very little. Always strive for the next level of improvement mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually.  But, have faith that things you cannot see or even dream are working in your life.  Try not to mess it up with all that thinking
  • Be more courageous. Be more flexible.
    • Stand up for others more and for yourself a little less. It turns out strength has less to do with muscles and more to do with intestinal fortitude.
  • Finish more projects. Learn to play that guitar instead of letting it collect dust.
  • Stay curious.
    • Read lots of books and articles – seek out modern sages that translate ancient wisdom into a modern world
  • Be a blessing to others.
    • Study the great leaders of spiritual movements that were servant leaders, not the conquerors.
    • The traits of warriors are better than those of conquerors
    • Strive to lead others to serve even in the face of adversity.
  • Don’t fear failure, just try to avoid the same fail twice.
    • Don’t obsess over failures. They are a natural part of life.
    • Successful people openly express the benefits of learning from their failures

Leadership

  • Be a friend and mentor, give more than you take.
  • Be a mentor and a leader not a manager or a boss
    • People follow honest genuine humans that can communicate their vision
  • Own your mistakes.
    • People will be more forgiving of your mistakes if you are honest about the ones you make.
  • Join a team to play or fight for a cause greater than yourself
  • Becoming the best YOU requires constant learning, experimentation and collaboration with others.  YOU CAN’T DO IT ON YOUR OWN!  No one ever succeeded by themselves.  Your individual efforts and dreams matter, but if you want to succeed help others reach their potential, accept help from others and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
  • Know that happiness comes from the inside and while others can impact your happiness, ultimately you control your feelings.  And, YOU are the only one RESPONSIBLE for your happiness
  • Ultimately, remember, the journey matters as much as the destination.  The destination is just the beginning of the next journey.  Embrace pain and embrace imperfection. You won’t find perfect people or situations. It’s best you accept that now.
  • Few men at the end of their lives wish they had worked more and played less. All men wish they could physically and mentally do what they once had the capacity to do and think.
  • Take this opportunity to push yourself outside your comfort zone. Don’t worry too much about what your peers think or say. Chances are in 10 years, you will forget most of them. If it won’t matter in 1, 5 or 10 years, then why should it matter now?

LOVE & RELATIONSHIPS

  • Be more careful with the girls’ hearts (and, your own).
  • Don’t avoid a relationship even if you think it will end in pain.
    • The wounds are temporary. The resulting scars are wisdom.
  • Have fun, but let your brain drive more and your libido drive a little less.
  • Love the children in your life and remember to play with them (I’m not telling you when or if you’ll have your own children).

Financial

  • I might also suggest you take some of that money you plan to spend on fun and invest it in an index fund and an occasional stock or two from high quality companies.
  • Don’t be afraid to speculate on an occasional stock now and then.
  • Don’t laugh at your friends playing on computers. Instead, consider making an investment in that company that built that Apple computer (I couldn’t resist one future tip)

Well, that advice should get you through about 40 something. I’ll talk to you again in about 40 something years.

If this made you consider what advice you might share with your younger self about money, relationships, and spirituality (or, anything else)?  Leave a comment.  I would love to read it.  Maybe my next post will be the collective wisdom of the crowd that shares the wisdom of their lives (you don’t have to be 40 something or a man, either).

The Purpose of Santa

January 3, 1863 cover of Harper's Weekly, one ...

Image via Wikipedia

I’ve been thinking about this Santa subject a lot.  I wrote this about the Psychology Today post (The Case for Keeping Santa) and also commented on this post by  Ted Torreson’s (@ted_torreson) via his blog Faith in Motion.  Bottom-line, like most issues, there are shades of interpretation.

One of the greatest gifts (and burdens) from our Creator is free will.  A burden because the choice is left to each of us whether to follow the teachings of Jesus or not.  It seems the purpose for this gift may have been to ensure that humans came to God out of choice.  Choosing freely makes the choice more genuine.  Have you ever felt pressured to say something nice when someone is fishing for compliments?  “Don’t I look great in this outfit?”

I believe this also encourages us to think (a lot) about everything from what apple color is best for maximum taste satisfaction to the purpose for human existence.  Over the last 200,000 years we learned, shared and collaborated with humans across the globe, which brings us to this unique place in time.  While we are no smarter than the first humans, we are more knowledgeable.  In order for us to go beyond survival we learned to thrive by finding ways to simplify our needs so we can concentrate on higher function desires, which led us from tribes to civilizations.

The basis for our western society stem from some shared beliefs.  Whether Believer or not, Judeo-Christian moral and spiritual beliefs form the basis of our society, just as do Roman and English Common Laws.  But, that is written history.  Before humans began to write and before they painted on rocks, they shared around camp fires.  We tell stories about historical and fictional people to help us make sense of the world, as well as to pass on critical information to our descendants.  From myths, to parables to oral and written histories; humans tell stories through word or image that they hope will be the glue that binds a community together.

The Christmas stories we love to hear, tell, watch and sing ensure that our progeny cherish our values.  Humans seek out ever more creative stories to spark curiosity about the morals being conveyed.  Did you ever have an uncle that told the same story every Thanksgiving?  Did you start tuning out after awhile or begin to mock him?  However, if that uncle was instead telling new stories each year that while different involved the same characters you might be more prone to listen…especially, if he had some oratory skill.   This creative license allows humans to continue refining our stories while sharing the same values each time.

I think the stories about Santa Claus fulfill that same purpose.  While the story shouldn’t be a substitute for the Christmas story of an immaculate birth, it can nevertheless provide a vehicle to share important facets of the Good News.  The life of Jesus provides a model life for Christians to follow.  While no one is praying at the altar of Santa (well, besides Macy’s), the story gives us a shared cultural reference to promote giving, joy, family and faith.  The farther we travel down the evolutionary road the farther from fact stories becomes until they are almost all fictional.  However, hopefully we retain the morals and values that we cherished.

Humans evolved into great story tellers.  Think about those Lascaux cave paintings in France compared to National Geographic TV.  Same fascination with wildlife, but richer image.  I think while the Santa stories moved away from the historical basis the best parts remained.  Merry Christmas!

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7 Fundamental Truths For Kids

Though not a comprehensive list, these 7 truths represent the foundation of my Leadership-dad philosophy.  I strive to model these behaviors, as well as reinforce them through stories and lessons.

curiousCURIOSITY

Curiosity fuels an interesting life.  The day you stop being curious, you simply stop being useful.  Don’t just ask why, figure out how.  As Dr. Bruce Perry, MD, PhD (@bdperry) posits, curiosity leads to experimentation, which leads to mastery and finally confidence.

 

 

 

Problem Solvers = Entrepreneurs.

Image via Indrasis Blog

OPTIMISM

You are going to fail.  Seek out new experiences like they are gifts on Christmas morning.  In time you will fail less and win more, but without the failures you won’t know how to appreciate the wins.

 

 

 

Positive Attitude = Positive Influence

thrive

thriving lone tree in the rocks

Resilience

Life is hard.  The older you get the harder it gets.  When you are a kid, you can’t wait to be an adult so no one tells you what to do.  Unfortunately, those rule making teachers and parents don’t go away, they just turn into police, politicians and spouses.

As Catherine McCarthy, PhD. posits in her blog post How Can You Thrive? The difference between success and failure is attitude.

Attitude = Prosperity

Courageous

Courageously Tackle the Lego Fire Walk?

BE COURAGEOUS

Don’t be stubborn or fool hardy, but never compromise your core values.  Few things in life warrant risking your life, everything else is negotiable.  That doesn’t mean you just roll over either.  The art of negotiation is that the other person walks away feeling they won, too.  Don’t fight to win, fight for what’s right.

 


Courage = Strength

Fairness

Fairness

FAIRNESS

Life may seem unfair at times, but focus on those things within your immediate control (e.g. your treatment of others). Follow a higher sense of fairness.  Treat others with equal or greater respect than you treat yourself.  And, remember that all people are created equal.  Never treat another less than you and never allow others to treat you less than them.

 

Fairness = Equality

Image via faithforsinners.com

FAITH

Faith in God, faith in yourself, and faith in love.  These three things pulled me through most of my life.  Many would ask me about my confident positive attitude and this would be my answer.  I know that God has my back, that I can do anything and that I my loved ones are my safety net. These beliefs never let me down.  My biggest failures occurred when I didn’t trust in all three.

Faith = Confidence

wealth

wealth

WEALTH

You may not ever discover your purpose.  You will not know all the people you influence.  If you seek meaningful work that allows you to contribute to something noble, then you will fulfill my dreams for you.  More importantly count your blessings because faith in God will take care of your needs.  You can concentrate on creating abundance within your family and others.  Wealth does not mean financial gain, as much as it means financial well-being providing you the means to follow your passions.

Wealth = Quality of Life

These guiding principles helped to shape me and I believe they will help to positively shape my kids, too.

Please tell me what you think.  What did I forget?  Do you disagree? Agree? What are the most important things you teach your kids?

I look forward to hearing from you.

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Zen of Fatherhood

Aside

Me holding Jake and Colin when Jake was littleHelen Keller said, “The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart.” As I sit waiting to meet my third child, I reflect on  the beauty of unseen things. The Zen of Fatherhood.

Enlightenment through deep thought.  Reaching higher levels of understanding through a natural progression of experience.  Fatherhood allows me to reach higher levels of understanding about things I thought I already knew.

 

LEARNING – My first son changed my life forever. Not that I wasn’t prepared for that, but I did not know to what extent. I learned to love their learning process.  Watching the wonderment in their faces when they discover something new is priceless. If only I could remember to learn with such enthusiasm.

PATIENCE – God knows, one of my greatest flaws remains impatience.  I often forget how unimportant spilled milk really is in the grand scheme of things. Usually, the dog will lick it up anyway. I think being a father has made me a more empathetic person and leader.

LOVE – Experiencing the love a parent feels for a child is like nothing I have ever experienced. Sure, I love my spouse, parents, siblings, friends, etc, but nothing compares. I know there is very little I wouldn’t sacrifice to ensure they are safe and successful.

WEALTH  – I suppose I’m less motivated by money than some and more so than others. However, fatherhood has brought more wealth into my life in the last 5 years than the previous 30 combined.  While I won’t stop developing myself and looking for ways to build financial stability for my family, I have nonetheless discovered the wealth of blessings I already possess.

Yes, fatherhood brings a form of zen into one’s life.  Multiple paths exist toward enlightenment for all, but my path led me to this higher level of understanding.  I look forward to reaching ever higher levels in the future and passing as much as possible down to my descendants.