You may have read Dr Kenneth Kaunda’s ‘Letter to my children’. In his busy schedules as President of Zambia, he realised he hardly had time to regularly sit down with his children to offer them advice around life. So he decided to put down his advice in a book which he called ‘Letter to my children.’ Great idea as it meant his children could refer to it even if he was not around. Many of us have actually benefitted from his letter which would not have been the case if he passed the wisdom orally. Over the years, I have realised too how precious time is and how it just flies by when you occupy a busy office.
So I guess it is my turn to also do a ‘letter to my children,’ albeit shorter than Dr Kaunda’s.
My children, part of my role as a parent is to fill in the gaps that you don’t learn in school. My children, I have received so many great pieces of advice over the years, from family and friends, from great books, and from wise people on personal finance. Recently, I sat down to make a list of the key pieces of advice that I wanted to pass along to you. As the list grew, I found some of the items to be very useful and some perhaps not so useful. A handful of them rose to the top of the list, though.
Here are three really useful pieces of advice that have served me very well in many different aspects of my life. They have helped in growing my finances, my career, my personal relationships, and my personal growth. Hopefully, you will find some value in them, too.
First, make a conscious effort to be happy at all times and be nice to others too. Over the long haul, people gravitate toward others that they perceive as being happy and pleasant and gravitate away from people who are negative. If you make a conscious effort to be kind to everyone and keep a smile on your face regularly, the net benefits will really add up over time in the form of better relationships with people and a stronger social reputation. This can open doors for you with regard to getting the top-paying job you have always wanted, promotions, or business deals that others would struggle to find. You can have all the skills but if you don’t relate well with people, then your progress in life is likely to be slow and hard.
What are some of the tactics that have kept me smiling and remain nice to people? Well, I try to keep several things in mind that naturally make me smile and I think about them regularly, particularly when I see or meet other people. Thinking about hugs from you my children and lovely wife brings a smile to my face really quickly and I can draw on that in mixed situations to mask any uncertainty I might be feeling. On the other hand, if I don’t have something nice to say about others, I don’t say it. Sometimes, when criticism is called for or asked for, I give it, but only when it’s been asked for. In any case, I endeavor to include the positive aspects as well.
Second, my beloved children, you are the average of the five people you associate with the most. Make a list of the five people you associate with most in your life. Consider a particular trait shared by all of those people, and rank how the five of you fair around it. Most of the time, you will be right around the middle of that list if you included yourself on it. The point being that our performance and our life is in many ways dictated by who we spend our time with. We become like the people we associate with the most. Thus, the best way to improve yourself is to make a conscious effort to associate with people who are strong in a particular area where you want to improve. If you want to be the best in class, hang out with the best performers in your class. Later on, if you want to be the best in your profession or business, associate with the best in your field of specialization. If you want to be frugal, hang out with the frugal people, not the big spenders.
Lastly my children, always have a positive mind-set. Always believe you can do it and you will excel in life. As you grow, think of creating wealth on your own through hard-work and never be corrupt because the law will catch up with you and you may end up losing everything. Never rely on others for your survival in life, unless they are simply giving you a start-up.
I know what is best for you, so take serious heed of my advice. A blessed week-end to you my children! I only wish you well always.