This letter is dedicated to my son, Jacob.
When you change from being a man to being a Dad, something slowly turns inside of you. Things are very different. You see life through an altogether different lens. It is incredibly rewarding and you sense that this is really what life is all about, it’s what is meant to happen.
So this is a letter from me to you Jacob, just in case, for some crazy reason, we get separated somewhere along life’s path and I am no longer there to hold your hand, to tell you it’ll be ok, to smother you in my love. This letter can be your blueprint for living a good life and I hope you find it useful as you experience everything this beautiful life has to offer.
Lesson number 1: It’s your reaction that matters
You can’t change what life throws at you sometimes Jacob, all you can do is choose your reaction to it. Pause and choose the right response and life’s down days won’t seem as long nor as dark.
Lesson number 2: Listen
Listen with the intent to understand, not just to reply. Being a good listener is fast becoming a lost art in modern life, but having the patience to sit with and give your time to people; to really listen to their words and understand them, will serve you well.
Lesson number 3: Slow is fast with people
Take your time when getting to know people, the best stuff only comes out when you’ve known someone a while. When it does, the feeling of connection is an incredible reward for your patience.
Lesson number 4: Learn to play a musical instrument
….And you will never be lonely. Such a rare skill to have as you get older, to be able to play music will separate you from the crowd and win over people to your infectious charms in an instant. It will also soothe your soul when times are tough.
Lesson number 5: Look after yourself
Self care is not selfish, it is mandatory. Be aware of your inner critic and don’t let him run wild. Mind your mind, not just your biceps. They are equally important. Only when you look after yourself, can you expect to look after others. This is the reason why you must put on your own oxygen mask in a plane, before you can tend to others.
Lesson number 6: No tattoos until your 30
Once you hit 30, you can do what you want. You’re a man now. And if you haven’t gotten a tattoo until now, you probably won’t.
Lesson number 7: Pray
You won’t grow up with church on a Sunday like we did Jacob, but praying to God, thanking God, talking to God, not just in times of need, will bring you inner comfort you never thought possible. Churches are massively overlooked as places of peace and quietness in the middle of this bustling busy city of ours – visit them often.
Lesson number 8: Listen to music
Music has the power to move mountains. A love of music is a rich emotional journey that never stops giving.
Lesson number 9: Respect
Always have respect for other people, no matter how successful you become, you are judged on how you treat people in the lowest paid jobs. Be gracious and respectful, we are all human beings.
Lesson number 10: Have a good handshake
Your mother has one of the best handshakes of anyone I have ever met. This small movement exudes confidence and sets out the silent stall for the conversation that follows.
Lesson number 11: Travel
You have a window of time in your life when you can travel the world, it’s called your twenties. Life gets very busy once you start into regular working, getting married, buying homes, having kids and the opportunity to travel disappears. Take the opportunity to see the world with your friends Jacob, it will feed your life with memories that never fade.
Lesson number 12: Educate yourself
Whatever job you end up doing, education is the key that unlocks the path to different career. It is in fact how you start the transition to a different career altogether. It took me a long time to figure this out.
Lesson number 13: Become a Dad
…but not before you are at least 28! Becoming your Dad is the most amazing thing I have ever done. I hope someday you get to experience it for yourself. It truly is one of the hardest and most rewarding experiences life has to offer.
Lesson number 14: Always give it your best shot
Approach everything you do by giving it your best shot to the best of your ability at that moment. Learn from the experience and move on. This is the best form of confidence you can build.
Lesson number 15: Trust your gut
It knows what the right thing to do is, even when your brain doesn’t. Hear it, listen to it, act on it, trust it. Don’t ignore it.
Lesson number 16: Talk to people
Everything is better when you talk about it. There will be challenges in life Jacob, and some dark days filled with worries, concerns and stresses. Know that they will pass, trust time to heal all wounds and know that talking to people helps to ease stress.
Lesson number 17: Family is king
Having lots of friends is great but have some really close ones too. Above all else though, family trumps friends every time. Be close with your family, become friends with your family, they will be the ones by your side when no one else is.
Lesson number 18: Take care
Life is actually quite fragile, it can be taken away in a heart beat. You think you are invincible when you are young but you aren’t. Take care at every turn Jacob, take some risks too but you don’t have to walk along the edge of the cliff all the time.
Lesson number 19: Have fun
Spend time having fun, doing the things you enjoy in a way that makes you smile. The ripple effect on your personality is astounding.
Lesson number 20: Listen to those who have gone before you
Older people have the experience you don’t. Sure the world you are growing up in may look different, but the experience of a life lived is priceless. You can learn alot from those who have gone before you.
Lesson number 21: It’s ok to spend time on your own
Actually this is some of my favourite time, me time. Nothing else, nowhere else and no one else. Just me. You learn a lot about yourself when you spend time with yourself.
Lesson number 22: Read books
Reading books will bring on some amazing journeys. Indulge in them.
Lesson number 23: Write…
Writing is a skill that is becoming a lost art. The ability to articulate your ideas in the written form is extremely powerful. Get good at writing and reap the satisfaction and comfort it will bring you.
Jacob, I hope one day you get to read this letter. I actually cried writing some parts of this as I imagined you reading this some day, some day when I may not be around but hopefully I will be. It’s kind of strange but in a beautifully human way.
You will, I have no doubt, grow up to be a great man. A man with dignity, pride and respect for yourself and those around you. You have a warmth of personality that touches everyone you meet. You have a glint of mischief in your eye already and I hope that glint never leaves you.
Your are an amazing person Jacob, you fill our home and lives with fun, happiness and laughter every day. I am so proud to be your Dad.
I love you with all my heart and soul.