One of my greatest goals in life is to succeed as a father. It goes way beyond my career aspirations and the accolades that come with it. To me, being a Dad is everything. It’s my opportunity to ensure that my kids are helping to make this world a better place.
I have two teen daughters who I have been mentoring since they were babies. I taught them a life philosophy that grew out of the values I learned from my father. He would always say, ‘never forget where you’re from’ and ‘always give 100% of your heart and soul.’ Never forget where you’re from is about being true to who you are – it’s about being humble and remembering those who are less fortunate than you. Giving 100% of your heart and soul is about committing to go “all in” with everything and surrendering the outcome.
These values have always stuck with me, no matter the challenges I’ve been up against or the mistakes I’ve made. They helped shape my career and made it possible to meet mentors and make friends from all aspects of life.
They also formed the bedrock of the ad agency I created – David&Goliath, where we rally around a very simple word: Brave. Brave gives us permission to own our truth and fearlessly step into our greatness. In business and in life.
This is the same philosophy I teach my kids. Brave has allowed them to live those two values during some of the most challenging times of their lives. They are both wise and brave beyond their years as a result. But that doesn’t mean they are immune from falling, like all of us. It’s a journey and the key is to embrace failure, learn from your mistakes and move forward with courage and conviction.
Here are some of the lessons I’ve taught them along their journey that will hopefully carry them through to adulthood – lessons that are equally relevant to anyone, regardless of age.
- Live Your Truth 24/7. When you live your truth 24/7, it becomes a filter for how you inspire people, whether it’s friends at school, coworkers, family or significant others. By living this way, you hold others to the same standard. You are both inspired and inspiring others. Be relentless about living your truth, even if it goes against the grain.
- Do What You Fear. Fear shows up in so many ways: Being confronted by school bullies, and sometimes sitting alone at lunch. It also came up when applying to colleges – the fear of not getting into their school of choice. One of the tools I use for overcoming fear is an unmarked postcard I received many years ago that I have since painted on one of our agency doors. It reads: “Do What You Fear, Watch It Disappear.” Now, my daughters take pleasure in reminding me to live those words.
- The Armoire Meditation. Meditation is another teaching tool I use. When they experience writer’s block, which they often do during finals, I take them on a ten-minute guided meditation to help them unlock. They envision an armoire that’s filled with books they’ve written. They imagine the color of the book, the title, the first page and the first line of copy. Then they put the book back, close the armoire and awaken with the title and first line of the essay. From there, they are on their own. This gives them permission to believe that they already have infinite creative power to write whatever they want or need. And whether they use it or not, it enables them to believe that anything is possible.
- Grades Are Not Important. I always tell them, what’s most important is to give 100% in everything you do. It’s more important than getting good grades. Have a strong work ethic. Those are the people who work hard and go “all in” in life.
- One Small Thing at A Time. When they get anxious about getting a project done, or finishing a book, my advice is to not worry about grades or expectations. To help ease their anxiety, I tell them not to overwhelm themselves by trying to read a whole book over the weekend; rather, read one more page than yesterday. Then two pages the next day. Soon they’ve read the whole book. If you focus on starting small every day, you’ll create a rhythm to getting things done, without the anxiety and fear attached to it.
The values that I instill in my daughters (this doesn’t include my wife’s even greater contributions) have empowered them to achieve some pretty amazing accomplishments. Every day I document their thoughts and heightened awareness. These lessons not only help me to be the best dad I can be, but they also make me a better CEO.