Thursday, June 29, 2006

Advice from a father to his son

Dear Zachary:

Life is complicated. You know that already. It will get more complicated as you get older. If you want to make it through life without even more complications than will arise all on their own, here are a few tips from your dad:
  • If you don't want to be at the mercy of the winds of chance, or of other people running your life, make sure you have as much control over your own life as possible. Think before you act. Have a plan 'B.' Spend less than your earn. Stay out of debt as much as possible. Be your own boss. Don't marry a harridan.
  • If you associate with fools, you will yourself become foolish.
  • In any contentious situation, never say the first thing that pops into your mind. It is likely to come back and bite you in the butt.
  • Be polite and gracious at all times. It costs you nothing, but pays big dividends.
  • If you wish to be respected, be respectful.
  • If you wish to be respected, respect yourself. Self-esteem is not something that can somehow be granted to you by others, you can only develop it in yourself. You earn it one step at a time, by doing things of which you can be proud, and by avoiding behaviour which will bring you shame.
  • If you expect the worst of any situation, or if you expect the worst of any person, your expectations will be met. If you expect the best of any situation or person, you will at least occasionally be correct.
  • Always be on time. Being late shows how little you value the time of others. It is disrespectful and crass.
  • Be your own man, but when you need advice, remember that your old dad isn't completely clueless, and that he sometimes knows what he is talking about.
Good luck.



  1. I think all of your comments are wise advice. I especially like the admonition to respect oneself for our teenage boys, because in these years it is especially easy to be looking for outside approval. The opinion of the masses is rarely correct (in my mind).

  2. "The opinion of the masses is rarely correct (in my mind)."

    I agree. Maybe "never" is closer to the truth.

  3. Wow. I think I'm going to print that for my refridgerator. Come to think of it.. I hope you don't mind me putting you on my refridgerator.. it's really not as cliche as it seems. I just want to remember all of those things on a day to day basis. Sometimes, I forget.

    You are a great dad.

    Did your dad teach you? Or, is that the sum of lessons of a lifetime? Or, did you figure it all out fairly early on somehow? Curious. I am always curious to know how and when people figure things out.

  4. Penny... I often feel more like a Don Quixote than an Aristotle, but I am gratified that anything I believe in actually has some value for others. Your comment has got me thinking, and I just might write a post attempting to answer the questions you pose. Give me a couple of days to think about how to respond.