A lifetime in review

Years ago I was sitting next to my dad in the pew at church as we did each Sunday morning. I noticed that he was writing on a small piece of paper and although I could not see what he wrote I was curious. After mass I asked and he said he was doing a little review of his life so far – how had he done to this point against the goals he set for himself as a younger man.

In his early fifties at the time, he had in my estimation been a great father. Dad worked hard to put himself through medical school while later he and mom often did without luxuries for themselves to save for the future.  He had always provided for the family, we kids were going to private schools for the best education, on weekends we did family trips to the local foothills and beyond, and we always sat down to dinner together to share the events of the day. He was a success by any measure in my book.

So what about the book on me? At a similar age now, where did I sit compared to my goals as a young man? What are the real measures of success in each of our lives?

Family – mom always said there is nothing more important than family and we lived that rule. Weekends were spent with relatives as we celebrated life over a table of BBQ chicken or hamburgers or whatever was on the menu. Important events such as baptisms, first communions, graduations, school plays, tennis matches were always accorded their just due and everything was considered important. Each of us was recognized for being a success at what we did which helped to build self-confidence that followed us through our lives.

Raising my kids we did not spend as much time with the rest of the family as I would have liked to. But we did foster in our household the value of each individual, the importance of pursuing your dreams, and the all important do to others as you would have them do to you. Today both kids are rock stars (not literally) with successful college careers and now onto the working world.

How do you rate yourself in the category of family?

It is not about the things – we lived in a nice house in s nice neighborhood. We never wanted for anything but were taught early on the importance of spending wisely. Designer labels were not a part of my growing up. Credit cards were paid off at the end of each month and used more to build a credit history than anything else. If you could not afford to pay cash for it, you could not afford it! How that way of thinking could help us all these days from the government to the home front.

Raising my family, I was a bit loose with the credit cards as we competed with others caught up in the Silicon Valley madness. Spending more than we should have, we found ourselves in more debt than was comfortable. But we cleared the slate and adjusted our behaviors and made it through. The kids learned from the experience as well as their own. Now when it comes to designer labels, they shop at Marshalls or outlet stores if they cannot do without. And equally as valuable both realize the importance of pursuing a career that fills your heart rather than only your wallet.

Do you and your family value what is important or are you caught up in the never-ending attempt to one-up the Joneses?

Major decisions – in my parent’s house, career choices were discussed and then supported. Although on a pre-med path from day one, when I changed direction to focus on business after my first year in college, my physician father and nurse mother both supported the decision. They knew I was pursuing what was best for me and it was not medicine. More than anything, I appreciated their trust in me that I would ultimately find my way. I have jumped from job to job over my career but always with their support.

Who will your kids choose to hang out with – not always exactly the people you would have chosen? Who will they date – I guarantee not always who you have in mind? How will they dress? How will the cut their hair? What part of their anatomy will they choose to pierce?

In the overall scheme of things, these are minor details that you cannot control. It is often easy to get sidetracked and fight a battle that you will not win. I believe that if you support the inner person and provide guidance rather than enforce rules you have a better chance of helping someone find their way. It is all about the person they finally become rather than what it took to get there.

Are we as supportive as we can be to help each other find our individual destiny?

Upon review, not necessarily a perfect report card but on a pass/fail scale, I think I pass. At least I hope this rating is what I would receive from my kids and family. After all, they are the ultimate graders and the lives they lead are in large part the result of just how well we did our job.

How do you rate your lifetime in review?