4 years, 6 months, 27 days. Nothing worth having comes easy.

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My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

Heed the words of the wise.  In life, you either work hard and try your best to achieve your dreams, or suffer the pangs of regret later in life for having never tried.

Look around you.  How many do you see falling into the latter camp?  Look at your cousins, aunts, and uncles on your mom’s side?  They are roofers, fast food workers, warehouse laborers, sanitation department workers, etc.  Those are honest jobs and there is nothing wrong with those types of jobs in and of themselves.  But, the question is what else could they have made of themselves?

Life isn’t that difficult, really.  The rules are fairly simple:

  1. Do your best.
  2. Be true to yourself.
  3. Treat others as they want to be treated.

You will find that many people in life are “minimally exceptional” not because of their abilities (or lack thereof), but because of their lack of efforts.  They’d rather complain and blame others than strive to improve their lots in life.  The good ones who do will rise to the top while the rest will gravitate towards their rightful places in life.  The good ones will leave healthier legacies for their children while the minimally exceptional will leave their children the minimally exceptional.  I introduced you to Mr. Ted, one of the best in our field.  Who has your mom and her siblings introduced you to?

Where will you be in 10 years, boys?  I know what your abilities are, but will you put in the effort to get yourselves there?  I pray you will.  That is how I taught you to be.  Don’t be like your mom, who would rather veg out in front of the TV instead of taking you to the park, the library, the beach, or other places where you can exercise your bodies and your minds.  Strive to be the best you.

All my love, always,

Dad

4 years and 3 months. Challenge yourselves and grow.

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My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

I hope you are well today.  Recently, a neighborhood kid encountered some personal challenges, and his parents responded by clearing his plates of all challenging matters and telling him it is not necessary for him to challenge himself regarding anything.  That struck me as a less than ideal strategy.

Today, another neighborhood kid shared with me his excitement at achieving something I’d shown him how to do earlier.  This struck me as being the natural order of things.  See, e.g., https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/nurturing-resilience/201202/summer-camps-make-kids-resilient.

Kids need challenges in order to learn and grow.  Denying them challenges is to deny them opportunities to grow.

Life is but a series of challenges.  If you love your children, prepare them for life.  Don’t hobble them by removing the challenges and making their lives easy.

“Per aspera ad astra, Papa,’ I whispered. Through hardship to the stars.”
― Ruta Sepetys

“If you aren’t in over your head, how do you know how tall you are?”
― T.S. Eliot

“Difficulties strengthen the mind, as labor does the body.”
― Seneca

“Don’t handicap your children by making their lives easy.”
― Robert A. Heinlein

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.”
― Helen Keller

“The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people.”
― Randy Pausch

“When we least expect it, life sets us a challenge to test our courage and willingness to change; at such a moment, there is no point in pretending that nothing has happened or in saying that we are not yet ready. The challenge will not wait. Life does not look back. A week is more than enough time for us to decide whether or not to accept our destiny.”
― Paulo Coelho

“If we are not allowed to deal with small problems, we will be destroyed by slightly larger ones. When we come to understand this, we live our lives not avoiding problems, but welcoming them as challenges that will strengthen us so that we can be victorious in the future.”
― Jim Stovall

Embrace challenge, my sons.  Be persistent.  Live fully.

All my love, always,

Dad

 

4 years and 13 days. Persistence is the key to success.

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My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

Have you wondered why there are so many bright and gifted people in the world, yet so few reach the pinnacle of success?  I think intelligence, creativity, resourcefulness, talent, industry, etc., are necessary conditions for success; however, they are not sufficient.  A key ingredient is persistence.

Too many give up when the going gets hard.  But, that is the defining moment that separates the successful and the great from the the mediocre and the common.

Unfortunately, we live in a society in which mediocrity is celebrated.  People aspire for the banal and the trite.  Like lemmings, they give in to their urge to be like everyone else, to dress like everyone else, to think like everyone else, to rush headlong into the oblivion of uniformity … all while proclaiming  uniqueness and individuality.  (Go figure.)

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Don’t be like that.  Be yourselves.  But, be your best selves.

Pursue your passion.  Commit to it.  Strive to achieve your goals … whatever they may be.  (I do hope it is a good and worthwhile goal, and not an evil or selfish one … like Dr. Evil wanting to take over the world.)

Be persistent.  Don’t give up simply because you encounter obstacles.  What great achievement would be worth its salt if not for the difficulty of reaching it?

According to The Brain Warrior’s Way, the most important strategy for health, longevity, and success is persistence.  https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/brain-waves/201701/what-is-the-number-one-predictor-personal-success.  However, “[t]here is a portion of the brain that must activate to help with persistence.”  Id. 

Even if being persistent and conscientious are not your strong suite, here are 8 skills to practice.  These skills will develop and protect your prefrontal cortex.

1. Start first with fore thought.  Take the time to plan upfront what you desire, whether that be the groceries that you need for the week or steps needed for finishing a project.  Plan out each step needed to achieve your goal.

2. Reflect on all the positive and negative consequences of a plan.  Knowing what consequences are possible, assists the brain in making better decisions.

3. Keep your word.  What we say to our self and others is often all we have.  I often say to clients that what we say needs to be consistent with what we do.

4. Follow-up and follow-through.  Ask questions about details.  Again if you say you are going to do something, then do it.  Be reliable. What ever you do, don’t blow it in the end.

5. Take calculated risks.  Stretch out of your comfort zone.  Anxiety and fear are not healthy motivators.

6. Be sure to establish a daily routine.  We are creatures of habit, and we need structure and routine.  Plan out your day, just like you plan out an agenda or project.  That consistency offers order out of the chaos of life.

7. Evaluate every plan.  If it needs adjusting, adjust and adapt.

8. Perhaps most importantly, if you fail, get back on the horse and try again and again.  Being persistent help the neurons wire and fire together.

Practice these skills, my sons.  Live long, be happy, and be successful.

All my love, always,

Dad