Man at midlife making second half matter

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Fatherly Words of Wisdom to a Son

PIC_0228With Father’s Day in three days and my son’s 17th birthday two days after that, I figured it was as good a time as any to dole out some fatherly wisdom. I gave my son a heads up that I was thinking of writing about my sage and hard-earned advice, and even offered him a few pearls as a preview to try to get his buy-in. I thought I’d blow him away with profundity, or at least cleverness, but it didn’t have that effect – more like, “Yeah, whatever.” At least he didn’t yawn, or if he did, only mentally. (I should add here, for the record, that my son is a great kid and I’m proud of him.)

Whether he wants it or not – and most teenagers don’t and I can’t blame them and I’m sure I also was that way at 17 — I’m going to give it to him. Because that’s my job, that’s what parents do. Here, eat your spinach, it’s good for you, and you’re going to like it, because I said so, and I know and you don’t!

In fairness, he’s heard some of this before. And admittedly, not all my insights are deeply profound. And some of these may be more, “Do as I say, not as I do.” But I believe when he is an adult, he will hearken back, and realize some of these nuggets actually were on target…and that’s why it will be required reading! Eat your spinach! (I actually have semi-required my kids to read certain newspaper articles about young people who have it tougher than them.)

The Top 25 Fatherly Words of Wisdom, with some overlap and in no particular order, except the first one, which is meant to be shocking so he’ll pay attention to the rest:

  1. Nobody gives a crap about you. Yes, this is harsh, overly dramatic, and for those who are even modestly lucky in life, not even true. But we all find out soon enough that the world can be cruel, so we might as well be ready for that.
  2. Cultivate your resilience – you’ll most likely need it
  3. Be the best friend you can be to your friends and the best relative to your family members
  4. Cherish your significant other/always have their back
  5. Focus on making your life fulfilling, meaningful and enjoyable, not on accumulating (live as Spartan as you can)
  6. Develop self-confidence/believe in yourself (and fake it until you make it)
  7. Be proactive/avoid passivity
  8. Lead
  9. Be courageous/have courage of your convictions
  10. Find a passion and pursue it
  11. Don’t procrastinate
  12. Drink socially, not to get drunk
  13. Eat healthily and exercise
  14. Practice self-reliance
  15. Strive for authenticity
  16. Be bold/take smart risks
  17. Find your own meaning of spirituality
  18. Be generous
  19. Be compassionate and seek to understand others
  20. Beware of your anger/deal with it when you know you have it
  21. Accept responsibility
  22. Invest your money early and often
  23. Invest in yourself and don’t shy away from self-promotion (Look out for Number One).  No one will do it for you.
  24. Give back to a cause that is close to your heart. You will benefit spiritually and emotionally as much as those to whom you have given.
  25. Embrace the mind-body connection and nurture both – you will need each in good shape for a long time.

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