Some advice that changed my life

There are some bits of advice that has stayed with me and has really changed my life.

                First was from my dad. “You will never win the lottery if you don’t play”. For the longest time I took that as literally. So when I was able to buy lottery tickets I did so.  Obviously this wasn’t the intended message. What he was trying to tell me you will never know if you don’t try. You will never get that job unless you apply. You will never get that date with the girl you saw unless you ask. You will never grow a garden if you never plant anything. After I came to the realization that if I wanted something, I had to at least put forth the effort, make an attempt, take some initiative. Because if I didn’t it wouldn’t just fall into my lap.

                Too often we have what someone once called the teacup kids. They expect everything to be given to them, to be placed at their feet, to get what they want without trying. Without initiative, without ambition. I was lulled into giving to my kids using the “I want them to have a better life than I had”. But am I really? If I make their lives easy, give them everything without them having to work for it, what kind of young adult am I raising. When they have to go out into the world will they know the value of WORKING for something and EARNING something? Will they respect anything that is given to them? I had a friend in high school, who was given a brand new car on her 16th birthday. It was a nice and expensive sports cars. Her parents were will off and could afford it. She totaled the car within a month. Guess what, she got another. Never having a job, never earning it, never appreciating it. $24,000 car gone, and another $24,000 instantly. Some people could buy a house with that kind of money. I have even heard of parents taking the knives away from tweens (9-13) at restaurants because they may “cut themselves” and cut up their food for them. What kind of person will this be in society?

                This brings me to the next quote or advice. It came from my wife when she was dealing with one of our kids who didn’t understand why she has to do chores as part of the family. We are a blended family and when she is at her other parents’ house everything is given to her, no work, no effort. It is just expected to give her whatever she asks or demands for. “My job as a parent, is to teach you how to be an adult so that you can survive in the world on your own, without someone being there to take care of you.” This was true. We had since change the belief that we needed to make it easier on them, and instead, make them independent, responsible, accountable and train them for what life holds for them. When I tell other parents that our 11 year old, can do her own laundry, cook her own meals, knows how to take care of the animals they think I am being too harsh. I completely disagree and so do the kids. They have taken pride they can cook their meals, beyond putting cereal in a bowl.  When they learn a new skill if it is making fire without matches, or how to build a structure, they feel empowered to take on the next challenge. When then buy something they want with the money they earned, they respect it, value it, understand how hard they had to work to earn it.

Fees and fines chart

                The next was from a coworker when I worked at a major fortune 500 company. She would come in and talk to employees when they either got burnt out on their current role or were reallocated and helped them find a spot where they “fit” within the organization.  L. Dane MuCCullough from Dane and Company. She came into a group I had set up for single parents dealing with raising kids alone or through a divorce etc.. She gave some great advice and this is how I remember it from 10+ years ago. “If you could do one job for the rest of your life, regardless of pay, benefits, or responsibilities, what would get you excited ever day to get out of bed, and go do that job?” When she asked this I really didn’t know. I thought I knew but I didn’t really like what I was doing. She followed up that profound question with “Now what is standing in your way? What would it take to remove that barrier and allow you to do what you are passionate about? How can you eliminate that roadblock”. For me, I found my passion with permaculture and educating others to be more independent and self sufficient. Maybe that is because of the parent in me, and the permaculture is just another means to help others grow.

For many people the thing that stands in their way is debt. House, car, credit card, student loans etc. How can you eliminate that burden? Stop spending? Drive an older car? Do you have a 5000 sq foot house with 4 beds and 5 baths, and you live alone? If that makes you happy great. I am glad you found what makes you happy. But if you hate Mondays, having to go into work each day, and writing all the checks for bills of stuff you don’t use. What would you look forward to doing?  Is an education standing in your way from doing your dream job? What is stopping you from going to school, or educating yourself? There are lots of resources available for low cost or free. Most barriers can be overcome. Sometimes the barrier is just in your mind.

Last is a great quote from a movie, although I have not read it, the movie is based on a book by Frank Herbert, Dune. “Fear is the mind killer”. I take this as fear cannot kill you. It is not stopping you from overcoming anything. Are you afraid your boss will say no if you ask for a raise, or promotion? “You will never win the lottery if you don’t play”. What is it going to hurt to ask. All they can say is no. Are you afraid to ask the girl out from the coffee shop? All she can do is say no. Anything worse than that and is she really someone you wanted to go out with in the first place? Do you want a discount on a scratched merchandise at a store? What are you afraid of, all they can do is say no. Are you afraid they will think you are cheap? Who cares, they are not working for the money you make, nor putting food on your table.  The point is we build up these barriers, walls in our minds that make doing something seem impossible, or we are afraid of what others will think. It is all in your mind. Stop thinking or caring what other people think. You will never be happy living  to other people’s expectations. Your future can have endless possibilities if you “play”, without fear, and shoot for your own passion and happiness. 

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5 responses to “Some advice that changed my life

  1. Love this! One of my favorite sayings is, “the worst they can do is say no.” We are trying to make sure that we teach our kids work ethic, but as you noted it is hard to do in todays society. We ascribe to Dave Ramsey’s commission based economy. The kids have chores they have to do because they are part of the family for which they receive no payment. If they would like to earn more money they can ask for jobs to earn commissions, such as pulling weeds, helping clean younger siblings rooms(siblings who are too young to do so themselves), etc. I was very blessed to have a car provided for me when I was 16, but it was a small pickup truck so that I could pull my landscaping trailer so I could make money cutting grass. I knew that truck could be taken away at any time, and because of that I took care of it. I grew up with a lot of kids who had things given to them and they didn’t respect it, and I see that in today’s society and I refuse to be one of those parents. Great post.

    • We have a very similar system. Some chores are unpaid. Each 11 year old has dishes one night a week. They get to pick. Doing dishes on another night gets cash, it varies by the amount and type of dishes. We have all the extra chores posted on a chart. They explain what is expected, and what it pays. There is also a fine. Leaving the lights on in a room after leaving, is $0.50 after your first warning. after a couple of dollars the lights get turned off regularly. We set an amount for certain things we are willing to buy, say shoes. If they want to spend above and beyond that amount, they use their money. This has helped curb the “I want”. Clearly defining the expectations has helped too. Clean the bathroom, is not just wiping the sink. We only pay out on completion of chore. It is all or nothing. This has taught them to see the jobs to completion, and kept us from having to pick up where they left off.

      Fees and Fines

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