There are a lot of sources speaking into the lives of my two boys. I am careful about filtering out the junk as much as I can for as long as I can. But soon enough, my boys will need to learn to navigate life based on principles and not simply rely on parental discretion.

As any father does, I want nothing but the best for my children. I want to give them my confidence, my support, and my blessing so they can fly as high as they can dream.

I believe in the power of words to shape our present and our future. Here is some of the life wisdom I try to speak into their lives today—even if they are just eight and four:

  1. Be you. You’re not perfect, but you’ve got the best chance of getting ahead when you learn to be comfortable in your own skin.

  2. Nothing lasts forever. Your first job will not be glamourous. This is simply a rite of passage.

  3. Exceed expectations—all the time. Most people just want to do enough not to get fired.

  4. Ask great questions. It reveals you are a critical thinker. Good leaders, managers, and executives are thinkers.

  5. Read at least one new book a month. Too many people stop reading after college graduation.

  6. Success is not a straight line. You’ll fumble around for about a decade before you’ll start to get professional momentum.

  7. Get in the habit of saving money. You won’t always have it to save, but you’ll understand the value of margin. It will eventually give you opportunities others won’t have.

  8. Find mentors. Don’t try to navigate life without at least one. They’ll change over time, but that role will be essential to your continued success.

  9. Be committed to outcomes—not being busy. Define the goal and don’t stop until you get there.

  10. Do what no one else thinks is possible. Tackle the impossible challenges. It will earn you a reputation that will propel you forward.

  11. Don’t identify a problem without also identifying a solution. Many people can tell you what’s wrong. It’s the one who can tell you what to do next that will rise to the top.

  12. Take risks. It will remind you that you are not in complete control.

  13. Learn to love the tension between where you are today and where you want to be. It should always be a present reality. If not, you’re in trouble.

  14. Focus on the war, not the battle. You’ll lose a few battles along the way. Don’t lose sight of the bigger picture.

  15. Find a woman you can love and never let go. You’re going to need someone in life that you can count on no matter what.

  16. Be slow to trust. Not everyone who wants to be your friend has your best interest in mind.

  17. Big projects are simply a series of small tasks. Establish a plan and take it one step at a time. It will amaze you what consistency and perseverance will allow you to accomplish in life.

  18. Don’t live by the expectations of others. It’s your life, not theirs.

  19. Get comfortable with chaos. What you will do in your professional life has yet to be invented and will likely change over time.

  20. Be generous. It is the currency of the universe and will always come back to you in multiples.

This list isn’t exhaustive, but it’s a good start. Never underestimate the power of words to unlock a child’s potential.

What wisdom do you share with your children?

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