Advice to my Children

    When my kids were growing up and struggling with the realities of life, I gave them three “rules” to remember:

    1. There will always be someone smarter than you
    2. There will always be someone richer than you
    3. There will always be someone better looking than you

    Looking back, I realize that this advice may not be typical and could actually hurt their ego some, but it is true. And I found that it helped keep them grounded and focused on what abilities they had and not worry about others so much. These “rules” typically came up when they would come home from school and be frustrated by something or some person.

    Johnny’s family has a brand new BMW, why do we have that?

    Stevie got an “A” on the test - I tried so hard but only got a “B”

    or my favorite Lisa is so pretty. Everyone loves her

    We would talk about such things, and I would try to get then to realize that worrying about other people is, in the end, a never ending, losing game. Just worry about yourself and be grateful for your abilities and what you have. Because there will always be someone in the world with “more” of whatever you want - money, smarts, looks, etc… I still think this is good advice for everyone, not just kids. But kids seem to benefit the most of this ego check.

    I came to these rules sometime in college. I had a successful high school career - top of my class academically, played sports, had a good group of close friends - but things changed in college. I went to a very good school and everyone there was successful, smart, good looking, and funny. It was quite the ego check for me. I thought I was smart, but there were people there that I would classify as geniuses.They never studied (I knew because I lived with them), took the same classes as me, but just “got it” academically. Gifted.

    Same with athletics. I was a good athelete, but so was just about everyone there. And many were just naturals and better at everything athletic. Many were charasmatic, natural leaders too - people you wanted to be around and listen too.

    I realized after a year or two at college that there was always someone “better” at everything. Didn’t matter what it was. Always someone better. I also noticed that it was rare that people displayed multiples of these amazing characteristics; no one had all of them. These people had doubts and questioned themselves and their abilities too. And the realization that no one was perfect or “had it all”, coupled with knowing that even these people doubted themselves, brought a sense of peace. No more worries about trying to outdo everyone and everything. Just be yourself, be comfortable with who you are, and do the best you can. It will all be alright.

    I still remind my children (now adults) of these rules when they get frustrated by life. Its what Dads do. Keep them happy and grounded. And I can say that I am very proud of the adults my children have become.