Advice for My Kids

by Eric Grimstead

I have three great children — one of them now an adult, one more almost there, and a third just about to start driving — I now officially feel old!

Anyhoo…I recently I have started reflecting on what I think they should know as they grow up and venture out into the world.

What are the simple, most important life lessons that I could teach them to prepare them for a successful life? (success defined in their OWN terms, not mine)

This is what I’d like them to know:

You get to make the rules.

You are good enough. Don’t be afraid to try new things and don’t be afraid to fail. Most are afraid of both. Be comfortable with failure and you won’t need the approval of others. You’ll be pre-approved — by yourself.

Also, get rid of dead wood in your life early. Keep in mind that many closest to you can be co-conspiring dream stealers…and not even realize what they are doing. Surround yourself with people who will lift you up and encourage you to reach for the stars.

All you need to be happy is already within you. Don’t seek happiness in food, drugs, alcohol, shopping, partying, sex … because that is seeking external happiness. They keys to happiness are right inside you: mindfulness, gratitude, compassion, thoughtfulness, the ability to create and do something meaningful, even in a small way.

You can start your own business. You don’t need a college degree to succeed. If you want one (college degree that is), great…but don’t go into tremendous debt without knowing how you’ll earn a return on that investment. Know that you have access to more information, more knowledge, more training/learning tools in the cell phone in your hand than most of human history before you has had access to combined. It’s possible for almost anyone to start their own business, and while you’ll probably do badly at first, you’ll learn quickly. It’s a much better education than college…in my opinion:-)

Everything useful I’ve learned I didn’t learn from college … I learned from doing, or watching others do (YouTube,, etc.)

That said, I’ve had some amazing teachers. Most were not in school, though: they’re everywhere. A friend I met at work (founder of Starbucks). My peers online. My mom, dad, brother, grandparents, uncles and aunts, and cousins. Your mom. You kids. Failure (sometimes the best teacher of all). Teachers are everywhere, if you’re willing to learn.

On MONEY: Spend less than you earn. Thirty percent less if you can manage. Most people get a job and immediately spend their income on a car loan, high rent or a large mortgage, buying possessions and eating out using credit cards. None of that is necessary. Don’t spend it if you don’t have it. Learn to go without, and be happy with less. Study living a minimalist lifestyle. (side note: tiny houses seem crazy though if you ask me:)

Invest. Early. Put away some of your income to grow with the power of compound earnings. Your future self will thank you. I will never forget overhearing a stock broker tell his client “You don’t want to buy Amazon stock. It’s below $5, that’s what we call a ‘penny stock’ — not good”. That was in 2002. Today is 2016. $5,000 invested in Amazon back then would be worth  over $700,000 today. Crazy.

Learn to love healthy food. We’ve given you a good start and you’re mostly good eaters! Learn to cook for yourself. Try some healthy, delicious recipes.

Learn compassion. We start life with a very selfish outlook — we want what we want. But compassion is about realizing we are no more important than everyone else, and we aren’t at the center of the universe. Someone annoys you? Get outside of your little shell, and try to see how their day is going. How can you help them be less angry, less in pain?

Never stop learning. If you just learn something a little a day, it will add up over time immensely.

Have fun being active. Sure, there’s lots of fun to be had online, and in eating sweets and fried food, and in watching TV and movies and playing video games. But going outside and playing with friends, tossing a ball around, swimming, climbing something, challenging each other … that’s even more fun. And it leads to a healthy life, healthy heart, more focused and energetic mind.

The things that stress you out don’t matter. Take a larger perspective: will this matter in five years? Most likely the answer is no. If the answer is yes, attend to it.

Savor life. Not just the usual pleasures, but everything and everyone. The stranger you meet on the bus. The sunshine that hits your face as you walk. The quiet of the morning. Time with a loved one. Time alone.

Spend time with God. Best in the morning.

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. They are some of the best teachers. Instead, learn to be OK with mistakes, and learn to learn from them, and learn to shrug them off so they don’t affect your profound confidence in who you are.

You need no one else to make you happy or validate you. You don’t need a boss to tell you that you’re great at what you do. You don’t need a boyfriend/girlfriend to tell you that you’re lovable. You don’t need your friends’ approval. Having loved ones and friends in your life is amazing, but know who you are first.

Learn to be good at change. Change is the one constant in life. You will suffer by trying to hold onto things. Learn to let go (praying helps with this skill), and learn to have a flexible mind. Don’t get stuck in what you’re comfortable with, don’t shut out what’s new and uncomfortable.

Open your heart. Life is amazing if you don’t shut it out. Other people are amazing. Open your heart, be willing to take the wounds that come with an open heart, and you will experience the best of life.

Let love be your rule. Success, selfishness, righteousness … these are not good rules to live by. Love family, friends, coworkers, strangers, your brothers and sisters in humanity. Love even those who think they’re your enemy. Most of all, love yourself.

And always know, no matter what: I love you with every fiber of my being.

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