On Father's Day, my oldest son gave me a little book, a journal of sorts, which he had taken the time to fill out. It was around 30 pages long and entitled
I Love My Dad (And Here’s Why)
. Each page had a thoughtful question to answer. It was an extraordinary gift that, quite frankly, brought tears to my eyes. In a very real sense, it was a Shade Tree that I got to sit under. He reminded me that when he was young, I said to him every week, “Your future is so bright, it burns my eyes. You are going to go so much farther than I ever did in school, sports, and business.” Guess what? He did!
As parents, we do the best job we can as our current awareness permits. Most of us were better parents with our second or third child because of a single word: experience.
I love the story about the new sales rep who comes into his sales manager’s office his first week and asks, “What do I need to do be successful in this job?” Leaning back in her chair, she smiles and replies, “I have been doing this job a long time and I have the plaques on the wall, so I believe I am qualified to answer that question. Grab your journal.” Leaning in with pen in hand, the rookie listens. “All you need is
.” Looking up, the new rep asks, “How do I get that?” Pausing for effect, she replies,
Looking up from his notes, she continues,
And there it is: Bad Judgment plus Experience equals Good Judgment.
The greatest legacy one can pass on to one's children and grandchildren is not money or other material things accumulated in one's life, but rather a legacy of character and faith.
No matter what happens in life, be good to people. Being good to people is a wonderful legacy to leave behind.
No legacy is so rich as honesty.
My children will receive three things upon my passing:
Everything they need to succeed are contained in those three things.
During my talks I make a very bold statement that I believe with all my heart and soul, “My real clients are your children and grand-children!”
When I was writing my second book,
Freedom From Fear FOREVER,
my father was dying of Alzheimer’s and my oldest son was going off to college for the first time. I quoted Polonius' speech, “To thine own self be true,” from Shakespeare’s Hamlet. It is appropriate for that poignant moment in every parent's life when their first child is going off to college.
Give every man thy ear but few thy voice.
Take each man’s censure but reserve thy judgment.
Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy,
But not expressed in fancy—rich, not gaudy,
For the apparel oft proclaims the man,
And they in France of the best rank and station
Are of a most select and generous chief in that.
Neither a borrower nor a lender be,
For loan oft loses both itself and friend,
And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.
This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
Farewell. My blessing season this in thee.
The night before Colin went off to college in Alaska to play basketball on a scholarship, I rebounded for him at Harbor Square Athletic Club. It was just the two of us in the gym late on a Friday night. He stopped shooting and approached me with a serious look on his face. A little concerned, I smiled and asked, “What’s up?” He replied, “I just wanted to say thank you for coaching me in Sno-King grades one through five. Thank you, too, for starting the AAU Team when I was in sixth grade and coaching us sixty games a year for four years. I wouldn’t be playing college basketball if it wasn’t for all the time you invested in me.” I was speechless. He gave me big hug and held it for a long time. It was an unexpected and heartwarming reward for spelling love as T-I-M-E. He played four years in Fairbanks, and then a few years of professional basketball in Germany, Australia, and China before earning his master’s degree while coaching basketball at Fresno Pacific in California. Leveraging that experience, he now is one of Amazon’s top recruiters in Seattle. More proud of him I could not be.
Colin inspired his younger brother by his able example, and Evan went on similar path earning MVP of the Conference his senior year in college and All-American honors eventually being drafted in the NBA’s D-League. He played professionally in Norway and Japan.
The Shade Tree we plant for our children might just be the most important job we have as parents. There is no doubt in my mind that Colin will do the same for my granddaughter Penelope Jean Matteson. Her future is so bright, it burns all of our eyes.
What kind of Shade Trees are you planting for future generations?