Unsent letter

written when I was about 27, to my first son, from whom I was often apart. I would jot down my thoughts in between lulls at my work – thoughts on life and how to live it; ideas on how to best live.

 

 

Confidence. Most people only feel confident when they’re sure of themselves. The rest of the time, and generally the majority of the time, they’re faking it. It is impossible to tell the difference. Especially if you say less instead of more. Stand as straight as possible, and look people in the eyes during conversations.

Explaining. Don’t make explanations: Anyone who expects one has already come to his own conclusion anyway. Or, to quote a fortune cookie I got in Sacramento in 1992: Never explain. Your friends would never demand it, and your enemies will never believe you.

Be shrewd. Never go into business with a friend, or loan money if you expect it back.

Friendship. Very few friends last a lifetime. This is because people always change. This is the natural progression of life. When the shared experience is removed (school, work, community, club) there becomes no link or mutual appreciation. Expecting the friendship to retain the old mold will end in heartbreak. Move on and expect nothing. Appreciate the honor of glimpsing another human being’s life for a time – but keep growing.

Giving. A gift is not a gift without both hands open. If you expect something in return for a gift or favor, don’t give it. Give only for the good feeling of being able to share something. Anything else is usury.

Love. People are becoming afraid these days to make commitments and allow themselves to love others because they know the other person will either leave them or die. This is true. All the more reason to love them now. Change is the only thing we can depend on.

Reputation. Your name is the one thing no one can take away from you. It will be your most valuable resource. Make sure that when people hear your name they associate it with honesty and decency. This is more important than I can say here. Your word must be your bond.

Promptness.  Always be on time, if not early, for any appointment little or small. Keep no one waiting. It is rude and presumptuous. It implies that your time is more important than theirs. Which is not so. All time is equal.

Courtesy. Look people in the eyes when you talk to them. Smile and mean it. Make it a point to remember the name of everyone you meet. Everyone likes to be known and remembered.

Tact. Life is full of petty irritations – people who say and do rude things, forget your name, seem to exclude you in or from gatherings, or generally fail to remember your own humanity. Let it go. Things are not always what they seem. People often have problems going on in their private lives that we know nothing of but would explain their apparent self-involvement. Try not to judge. Let it go.

Diligence. Bosses never want to hear why something didn’t get done. They are only interested in what has been accomplished or how soon it will be.

Responsibility. There is no one to credit for your successes or failures but yourself.

Clarity. Fear exists to show us where we need to improve ourselves.

Foresight. You can follow your heart if you want to, but be sure to pack a survival kit. Millions have already perished believing they could live on passion alone. It does not hurt to be practical.