By Jim Rhodes
A long time ago, my father mailed me an article he had clipped from a magazine. It was entitled “A Father’s Instructions for Life,” and contained tidbits of fatherly advice for a young man leaving for college.
I still keep the list in my desk, and I refer to it now and then as a form of self-evaluation. I’ve added a number of items of my own through the years and deleted some as well.
When my son left for college I gave it to him.
Here’s the list as it currently stands. Some are from my father, and some are mine. You’re welcome to guess which.
- Smile a lot. It makes people who like you happy, and it makes people who dislike you squirm.
- When managing people, praise in public and criticize in private.
- Overtip breakfast waitresses who call you “hon.”
- Say thank you often.
- Say please often.
- Call men ‘sir’ and ladies ‘ma’am’, even if they’re younger than you. It shows respect.
- Live within your means and avoid debt. If you must borrow money, pay it back as fast as you can. Use credit cards only for convenience, never for credit.
- At the table, don’t start eating until everyone else has been served.
- Beware of addictions. There are lots of things that can hook you. Some people are addicted to booze or narcotics; with others it’s gambling, sexual perversion, lying, stealing, even graffiti painting. Never trust anything an addict tells you.
- Be the first to apologize whenever you have a fight with someone you care about. Then stop arguing and don’t start again. It doesn’t mean you’re admitting they’re right, but it means you’re sorry for the way you behaved.
- Pray not for relief from trouble but for the wisdom and courage to face it.
- Travel beyond America’s shores. It will broaden your horizons more than you can imagine.
- Be brave. Even if you’re afraid, pretend. No one can tell the difference.
- Read the Bible cover to cover before you die.
- Read as much Shakespeare as you can.
- At least once in your life, go to sea.
- Look at the stars, and learn the constellations. Ponder deeply.
- Find a secret place in the world of nature. It doesn’t matter where – a clearing in the forest, a stream, a mountainside or a beach by the ocean. Go there alone whenever you can.
- Choose a charity in your community, and support it generously with your time and money.
- Don’t gossip. Keep secrets.
- If you are really angry at someone, write a letter. Don’t hold back. Say how you really feel. Put the letter aside for 24 hours and read it again. Then tear it up.
- Don’t discuss business or personalities in an elevator, airplane or restaurant. You never know who might be listening.
- Never cheat.
- Try not to tell a lie. Granted this may be hard to do, and sometimes a “white lie” may be in order to avoid giving offense or hurting someone. But always remember that once you’ve been caught in a lie you will be branded a liar and never trusted again.
- Shake hands firmly, and look people in the eye when you greet them.
- Don’t spread yourself too thin. Learn to say ‘no’, politely but firmly.
- Street musicians are a treasure. Stop and listen, then leave a tip.
- Don’t litter.
- Don’t procrastinate. This is especially true when it comes to things you really don’t want to do. Procrastinating won’t make it go away, but will probably magnify the difficulty.
- Have a dog. It’s a good lesson in unconditional love.
- Don’t be afraid to say, ‘I don’t know.’ Then try to look up the answer.
- In business, never argue with a customer.
- Give your mother a hug whenever you see her.