It’s every parent’s hope that their kid turns out to be successful. For some, successful means the kid ends up with a sparkling job title, double gold in Olympic fencing and has the name Sanjay Gupta. For others, as long as their kids grows up to be productive adults who can pay their own way, is a job well done on the parenting front.
My requirements are even simpler than that. Here are three things I want you to grow up to be.
1. Happy. Happiness comes from self-worth. And how much self-worth you need to be happy is entirely dependent on you. If you need to consistently beat someone at something to feel good about yourself, know that there’s just another dude around the corner who’s probably better than you. If not him, then the next guy. When another kid tells you he’s better than you at something, smile and tell him that he’s probably right and move on. Nothing pisses people off like indifference. Find happiness by being better than you were yesterday and don’t wait for other people to give you permission to be happy.
You’re also going to learn that ignorance is bliss. Go one-up on that. Willful ignorance, like that your dad practices is true happiness. I told you in another article (3 ways to be ridiculously happy) that I do everything I can to not give a damn about people’s personal lives unless they somehow affect mine. Keep the box of _____s you have to give to inconsequential crap empty. And it’s almost all inconsequential crap.
2. Skeptical. It’s been estimated that 108 billion modern humans have ever been born and died. Imagine the sheer amount of bullshit that have ever been made up to explain things. And imagine the sheer amount of bullshit you will be taught and pick up in your lifetime. But that doesn’t mean that what you know to be true is the final answer as well. Smart people are able to listen to everything without the requirement to believe a word of it nor do they have the inclination to force other people to prove true what they believe. Put everything you hear and see through your own filter of reason and rationalization to come to a conclusion. But make sure you are constantly updating those filters and never act like a sanctimonious shit.
3. Pragmatic. Only the daftest of people refuse to reconsider the validity of their views in light of new information. Intelligence is seeing what’s changing in front of you and constantly testing and retesting your hypothesis, no matter how long you’ve held them. There is no glory or honor in adhering to dogma even if it once served a purpose. Very few things are absolute and very few things are incontestable. As the saying goes, every problem looks like a nail to you if all you have is a hammer. So carry more than a hammer. Have more than one tired argument and approach to life. Never argue with anybody who holds an opposing view to you but rather incorporate the useful stuff from their argument to evolve your own views.
Brandon, you’re turning out to be an incredibly bright kid. We’re not going to tell you until you’re mature enough to understand but you tested extraordinarily well. So well that we’re not sure what to do with the next step of your schooling. But we’re also of the fundamental belief that it’s not how you start but how you finish. Intelligence is of zero value without ridiculous work ethic and potential is an ugly word that rewards some unattainable destination rather than the journey. It’s about the journey man.
What? You thought I was going to write about what career I wanted you to have or something? Come on man, you know me better than that. Do what makes you happy. That’s what will make your old man happy.