A Letter to My Kids

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Dear Kids,

I’m taking the time to write this to you today, years before there’s a chance that you’ll ever read it.

One of my reasons for doing this is simply because I want to affirm some things that I see you doing and some of the ways you are being before you forget them.

But also, I want to give you an example of how life is a never-ending journey that is filled with shades of gray.

So, although you’re not quite ready to hear me talk about all of the challenges in my life, hopefully what follows will help you understand that no one has it all figured out… even your dad.

And that’s OK.

Part I: Who You Are – What You Want

When I started out in business, I was missing some key ingredients.

I didn’t know much about being an entrepreneur (I had just quit my job and decided to go out on my own. If I teach you right and you decide my suggestion is right for you, hopefully, you’ll never have a job, so this won’t be an issue) and I lacked confidence in myself.

But most importantly, I lacked a clear understanding of who I was and what I wanted.

I don’t blame anyone for that but myself. It was pretty much my way of surviving I imagine. A way to avoid conflict and to ensure that I didn’t ruffle any feathers.

If you don’t shine too brightly, there’s less of a chance of sticking out and calling attention to yourself.

So that’s where I want to begin, with the whole idea of who you are and what you want.

It’s funny that this is even an issue for me at 33, because right now, at your age, you are very, very clear about WHO you are and what you want.

I’m writing to you to tell you never to forget that.

Just a word of warning…

As you grow up, people around you might react to your clarity in a variety of ways.

To some, your ability to be clear and to say exactly what you want will make them uncomfortable. It might make some angry.

Please don’t listen to them. Their lives are the way they are, in part, because they aren’t able to clearly articulate what they want.

This lack of ability creates a lot of suffering in the world.

I will do my best to steer you around it now that I understand how it works.

Two of the keys to living a full life are to understand who you are and to be clear about what you want.

Everything else flows from that.

Part II: How to Become Successful

I used to think that in order to become a successful businessperson, I had to become more like successful business people.

So I read a lot of books about other people.

I read about Carnegie… I read about Bill Gates… I read about Felix Dennis…

The books I read were packed with pages and pages of “how to do it” information and stories of how others became successful.

Little did I know at the time that I was walking in the opposite direction of success.

Instead of learning how to be more like someone else, my focus should have been on learning how to become a more effective version of me.

In business, there’s this idea of the unique selling proposition. In a nutshell, it’s how what you have to offer is different (and therefore better) than anything else out there.

Being you… thinking the way you think… doing things the way you do them… your take on the world….

That’s your USP. It’s built in. Those are your competitive advantages.

But if those are not well developed, because you have not taken the time to develop them, then those differences are hardly noticeable at best, and completely hidden at worst.

This will work against you, because there will be no obvious reason for people and opportunities to flock to you over another.

You will be competing against the herd and your journey will be harder than it needs to be.

So despite what you might read in books, I recommend that you do become a pioneer.

After all, there’s really no other way to be successful as you.

You’re the only one living your life. So you are a pioneer whether or not you like it.

The only question is how effective you’ll be.

How do you measure success?

I can’t tell you that because that’s a decision that only you can make.

For me, success means that I’m a better version of myself today than I was yesterday.

Maybe that will work for you. Maybe not.

I’m probably on a very different journey than you are on, so please figure this out for yourself.

Just listen… you’ll hear the answer.

Part III: Money

You’ll hear a lot of stories about money as you grow up.

Some will say it’s good.

Others will say it’s evil.

Still others will say it’s OK as long as you only have enough… not too much.

Here’s my advice: They’re all lying.

Money has no meaning.

So when you hear people arguing about it… when you hear them say it’s good to have it… when you hear them say it’s bad to have it…

Please just ignore all of them.

They are wrong.

Money is energy. It flows to people who understand it.

It flows away from people who do not.

Don’t listen to the stories about money, just watch what it does and watch how it moves.

Here are facts:

As I write this, money is required to do things in the world.

Want to go to Italy and live there for 6 months?

You need money.

Needing money is not bad…

Needing money is not good…

Needing money just is.

Be OK with that.

But my recommendation is to develop a deep understanding of how it works. That way you can use it as a tool to live your life, instead of being like most people who use up their life working for it.

If you want to create a lot of it… go ahead.

If you want to exist with little of it, that’s your choice.

If you have other plans, pursue them, just don’t forget Part I of my letter.

You see, money isn’t evil.

Wanting money isn’t evil.

Going out of your way to get money isn’t evil.

It’s all a story. Someone else’s story.

The only thing that matters in life is your story. That’s why you’re here.

You’re here to write your own story.

Part IV: Know What You Stand For

In order to attract to yourself the people, the experiences and the opportunities that will make your life full, you have to shine a bright light out into the world.

Its message cannot be mixed, uncertain or unclear.

When the message you send out into the world based on who you are, what you do and what you offer is clear and powerful, you will attract just about anything you want.

But to do that, you have to know what you stand for. Of course, this list will change over time as you grow, but my hunch is that it will not change very much.

Just to give you an example of what I’m talking about, I’m going to give you my list below. Please don’t let any of these items make their way onto your list word for word.

You have your own list to make.

Again, if I’ve done my job well by the time you read this, you’ll already know your list without giving it a whole lot of thought.

What I Stand For

  • I stand for being real. For being who you are no matter what everyone says about it. Being anything else is living a lie. And it will kill you on the inside far before you die on the outside.
  • I stand for looking out for my own best interest. If I choose to help others, that is my choice to make. For helping others is a gift you give, not something you are forced to do.
  • I stand for power. Not the loud strong arm way of acting people see on the outside, but the quiet power that exists on the inside. It’s this power that you use to create anything you want in your life.
  • I stand for taking 100% responsibility for my life. This applies to the good the bad and the ugly. 100% responsibility means no exceptions.
  • I stand for living my life how I choose to live it, provided I do not tread on the freedoms of others’ ability to do the same.

In the end, the best advice I can give you is this:

Be true to who you are and take one step at a time. There’s no rush.

I wish you the best of luck on your journey,

Dad

What is the most important life lesson you want to share with your children?

[Ed. Note. Jason Leister is a direct response copywriter, internet entrepreneur and editor of the daily e-letter, The Client Letter, where he empowers independent professionals who work with clients. He has six kids and lives and works in the mountains of Arizona.]
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  • Srini

    Is there anyway, I can search all the newsletters (archive)? I thought you had this feature before and now it is not there.

    Thank You
    Srini

  • Marion Lynn Connell

    I want my children to learn to take responsibility for their lives and pursue their dreams and do’t stop until they’ve achieved them

    • ttcert

      Wonderful, thank you Marion!

  • ttcert

    I usually use Google. Just type in http://www.earlytorise.com and the search term.

  • Ben Ugoji

    To learn, understand and practice thinking as a dispciline. And to appreciate that the things that we don’t see outweight the things that do appear. Know the that life is lived more enthusiastly as we learn from the laws of nature based on Spiritual pricinples. Practice the Golden rule and to know the Law Giver.

    • ttcert

      Excellent, thank you Ben!

  • John Gosselin

    In true transparency, I “trashed” well over 200 emails over the last 72 hours and could not trash this one because the subject line pulled on my heart strings in unexplainable ways…. I just want to say thank you for sharing in my tears of joy as I read this as I am 100% certain that there was at least one other dad out there who feels the EXACT same way I do 🙂

    Thanks for sharing your unique brilliance Jason — I appreciate you helping me love myself (and my son) at a higher level with this piece of art!

    • ttcert

      Thank you so much for sharing your feedback, John, I will make sure that Jason reads this.

  • Clara Meierdierks

    Wow ! This is splendid ! I have an assignment to write a similar Letter. Awesome !awesome ! Love it.