The three c’s to living life

Dear Max,

After 32.5 years on this planet, I can specifically say that there are three words to live by, and they all start with the letter “c.”

Calm: No matter the situation, getting all upset or flustered won’t help you out. You may be anxious, but knowing within yourself that you will find a way to make something happen, to get out of a bad situation, or to move forward, is empowering.

Cool: This isn’t about looking cool, although it may help. It’s about keeping cool. Keep a cool mind, and don’t unleash negativity on others because things get tough. Things may get tougher as you get older, but trust in God and know that He won’t give you more than you can’t handle.

Collected: When you stay calm and cool, you also need to be collected. Have your thoughts together and plans in place. if you don’t have time for that, trust in your instincts. We plan our whole life’s for certain moments. When they come, take it in stride and stay collected.

All of these things take a lot of practice, but you can get there. I just know it.

Love,

Dad

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Respect other people’s opinions

Dear Max,

Opinions are just that. They are one person’s view on the world. However, when people share an opinion, things begin to change.

From my perspective, here’s what happens when people have different opinions:

  1. They stop listening and start arguing.
  2. They “de-friend” the person from Facebook, whatever other social networks they use, and their life entirely.
  3. They change the channel or stop reading.
  4. They misinterpret opinions for facts.
  5. They dig in their heels, and run for public office to make things “better.”

Many people today are not open to discussions that differ from their opinion or differ from what’s popular. Healthy debate has nearly lost its place among our society because of this.

I hope you don’t make this mistake. It’s important to know that we can’t all be alike. The world is made up of all kinds of people.

Love,

Dad

Lessons from Los Angeles

Dear Max,

I played 18 holes in the Verdugo Mountains with only a seven iron and a ladies putter. This experience at the DeBell Golf Club reminded me a lot about business strategy and life. Let me explain…

In between working at Airfoil Group and FleishmanHillard, I decided to take a quick trip to visit one of my best friends, Uncle Sunshine, who lives in Burbank, California. He’s worked in film for quite a while and has most recently worked with the likes of Ben Affleck, Bryan Cranston, and Ryan Gosling.

One day, after a morning loaded with script writing and four glass-bottle Cokes, we decided to take a break and golf. I called the course and lined up a set of rental clubs, but once we got there something changed. They said that a tournament just started and all of the rental clubs were being used.

I nearly walked out. But, I’m the kind of person who sticks with things so I asked what my options were. The gentleman was kind enough to say that I could use this one old putter in back and urged me to borrow a few clubs from my friend. With Aunt LaLa playing as well, I said “I don’t mind driving my own cart, but I’m gonna need lucky number seven.” After all, I didn’t want to have him keep coming over to my ball in whatever side of the woods I shanked it to each time.

And with that, we played golf. I went up and down a mountain using a seven iron, being reminded of some great lessons, like:

Use the tool that works best

There are many times when we are bombarded with so many options that nothing quite works well. Using one tool that works really well allows for acute focus and making it work to the best of your ability.

Lack of choice can be comforting

With nothing else to choose, I didn’t have other options. I had to make it work. Not having to worry about how I could hit different clubs at different distances helped me relax. If I wanted the ball to go farther, I hit it harder, and vice versa. Of course, there was more to it than that.

Persistence is a clear path

Persistence towards a goal – finishing the round even remotely close to my regular score – took perseverance. It was not easy, but doing it repeatedly and continuing to move forward is what got me through.

I’m currently reading a book titled How to Think like a Millionaire by Mark Fisher and Marc Allen, and in it is a quote that has stuck with me. It says:

Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. – Calvin Coolidge

Test, adjust, and learn

Every time I took a swing, it was a test. Every subsequent swing was an adjustment. The entire game was a learning process.

So, how did the game end? I shot only 5 strokes above my average, I didn’t hold up the game, and yes, we’re still great friends.

Love,

Daddy

“I wanna be big like you, Daddy”

Dear Max,

Yesterday I was driving you and Evie home from daycare, and you said to me, “I’m going to finish my whole snack because I wanna be big like you, Daddy!” It was sweet and made me smile. But, then I thought about all of the kids who got big and remained kids.

Being big is more than just getting a few years older so you can do big kid things.

It means having a bigger heart. Being helpful to people you don’t know and caring enough to act in a positive way.

It means bigger mistakes, but knowing enough to learn and growth so you don’t repeat it again.

It means a bigger mind that is open to opinions other than those that are favorable to you. Finding ways to listen and learn with every new day helps with that expansion.

Anyone can grow big, buy a big house and a big car, and make a big paycheck. But, without a bigger heart and a bigger mind, they won’t be anywhere near you.

Love,

Dad

 

How to paint a wall

Dear Max,

Painting is not a easy task, but its fun to me. You have to be very careful or you’ll be looking at a messy wall until the point you decide you’re going to fix it or have someone else do it.

I hope you’ll decide to fix it yourself. Whenever I’ve finished painting, it’s more enjoyable for me to sit in that room and say I did that. There’s a sense of pride, a feeling of accomplishment, and you also save a bunch of dinero.

Here’s my step-by-step guide:

  1. Wipe the walls down with a slightly damp wash rag to take away any dust or cobwebs.
  2. Tape off the room, remove light switch covers, and cover the entire floor with plastic sheeting.
  3. Sand all of the walls. It may seem unnecessary at first but if the person before you used a lower grade roller cover, the little bumps will get much larger.
  4. Fill any holes with mud or filler.
  5. Sand those areas in long strokes until they appear flat.
  6. Apply the filler again. Use a larger scraper with a thin layer of mud.
  7. Sand one last time.
  8. Prime your walls. It creates a great base. If your walls are already light colored you may be able to skip this step except for the spots where you filled holes.
  9. Allow 24 hours for the primer to dry. Yes, its necessary. Sometimes you may have to make slight wall repairs again. The primer will show where all defects are in the walls. If that’s the case, mud and primer again.
  10. The next day, start with your first coat of paint. Using a great paint helps alleviate many issues down the line so don’t be afraid to go to a premium paint store.
  11. Cut-in around all of the edges of the walls first with an angled two-inch paint brush.
  12. Once your make it around the room, start again but this time with the roller.
  13. Move in fluid up and down motions that overlap by half. Don’t push the roller too hard on the wall or it will create lines and bare spots. Make sure you have enough paint on your roller and spread it evenly.
  14. Give the first coat time to dry. Touch a small inconspicuous spot to see if its still tacky. When it feels dry to touch you can start with cutting in again and applying the hopefully final coat.
  15. Some paint jobs that three coats but you’ll never know until you’re finished with the second one. For darker colors or a drastic color change, more coats are usually necessary.

There a lot more steps than some realize, but once you do it a few times it gets easier.

Love, Dad

 

Small wins

Dear Max,

Small wins add up to big possibilities. Sometimes, we set goals for ourselves that are so big they seem unattainable. And, sometimes, these goals are set for us. No matter what, its those small victories that can help you succeed.

Here’s how it may work. Say you want to make $1,000 one summer. That’s a lot of money, and at first you may get discouraged. But wait, you know how to mow lawns, make small repairs, and clean windows. Take those skills and create a simple flyer to pass out to neighbors houses and friends. Once you get a few regular customers it starts adding up quickly. Each new customer is a small win in the overall picture. So, if you’re able to get just four houses to mow lawn for each week, you’ll have $1,040 in 13 weeks.

Think about the possibilities of that. As you get older, that those numbers and those tasks may change and grow. What doesn’t change is the work ethic of breaking down large tasks into small wins to finish something of epic proportions.

Love, Dad

Tomorrow never comes

Dear Max,

In an odd twist, you gave me this advice yesterday: This is tomorrow because I want it to happen today.

This statement stopped me in my tracks. Now, normally kids are kicking and screaming at your age, but you are an expert negotiator. The idea that “tomorrow never comes” has been around for a long time. In fact, it’s the title of an Elvis song from the 1970s. The idea is that tomorrow is an excuse.

Tomorrow is not an actual day. It’s like the sign that says, “Free beer, tomorrow.” It’s always updating itself to push it off one more day. Today, however, is an actual day. And, it’s the perfect day to start doing, thinking, or feeling exactly what you want to do. 

Remember your own advice, and keep in mind that you can learn something from anyone, anywhere, and at any time.

Love,

Dad

Rejecting labels

Dear Max,

Labels have been created to describe various categories. And, so many people will follow life within these labels, fitting to an easily-defined mold. 

The people who are able to make real change in this world live outside of the norm. It’s a constant push. It is about active thought, instead of passive reading. It is about pursuing your personal goals while others are drinking, sleeping or watching TV. It is about learning in every moment, and taking the time to notice what is to be learned.

You can reject labels. You can create a better life for yourself at any moment. You can help others realize their potential too. All it takes is a little reminder that nobody else is the person you are. And, there will never be another you. Okay, Pal?

Love, 

Dad

Create

Dear Max,

Take a hammer, nails, and a piece of wood. Build something. 

Take a blank sheet of paper and a pen. Write something.

Take a brush and watercolors. Paint something.

Sit at a piano and pick a song. Play something.

Create as much as you can. It’s self fulfilling. It’s confidence building. It’s freeing. 

Love,

Dad

Your Idea v. Theirs

Dear Max,

Your idea of cool, of fun, of happiness is different than theirs.

Your idea of a bad day is different than theirs.

Your idea of luxury, of decadence, of class is different than theirs.

Your idea of love is different than theirs.

Embrace the difference and take the time to understand it. Change isn’t necessary but the ignorance of not knowing or taking the time to understand the difference is.

Love,

Dad