This has been a struggle for me to put it mildly. I am far better than I used to be, but far from where I would like to be.
As life goes on you will find that there are more and more good opportunities, enjoyable activities, and important responsibilities that will come into your life. It is so easy to simply say “Yes! Absolutely!” when a good opportunity comes along.
Your grandfather, my father, has taught me many things over the years, mostly by example rather than in words. He is a consistent man, strong in character, who most definitely walks the walk. One tremendous lesson that I have carried with me is that relationships are more valuable than the deal.
As I write this, your great grandfather (my grandfather) was just admitted to the hospital and is likely awaiting heart bypass surgery. Being the oldest grandchild, I have many years of memories with your great grandfather. Everything from riding horses, to working in the Christmas trees, to seeing him at my basketball games. And likely my favorite memory of all, a month-long trip with him in his RV on the Alaska and Cassiar highways to Anchor Point, Alaska, and back. I even lived at his place in his bunkhouse for several months soon after college.
We don’t yet know what the outcome of the next few days will bring for your great grandfather.
I most definitely cannot do this topic justice in a simple letter. Many great people have written powerful works on the merits of humility.
All I can say is that I have grown to desire this character trait more than nearly any other and it is something that I admire most in those that I look to for guidance. Likely because it is a constant struggle for me.
No matter what you achieve, no matter your accomplishments, no matter how hard you work, you will always have others to thank for your success.
One of the most humbling things in my life is that, when I look back over the things that I think I have accomplished, I realize that so much of it has very little to do with me and very much to do with those that were willing to take a chance on me or pour into me.
I am most definitely biased when it comes to this topic. Ok, pretty much every topic I have written on. However, in the current economic landscape that we live in, the benefits of owning your own business are vast. We live in an exciting time in which technology continues to lower the barrier to entry for creating and operating a profitable business. I will simply cover what I believe to be the top three reasons here.
One thing that stands out to me as I interact with people later in their lives is that those who have spent their years continually learning and improving themselves exhibit many impressive characteristics that I hope to have in my own life.
Wisdom, humility, gentleness, confidence, servant leadership. The list of the admirable attributes of a life-long learner is never-ending. However, continuous learning most definitely does not happen by accident. It is an intentional choice.
As is often the case, I am writing about a topic that I have yet to fully master. “Busyness” carries with it the connotation of importance in our society. Nearly every day in response to the question, “How are things going?”, I will hear , “I am so busy.” (I am definitely guilty of this from time to time but have really tried to work on it).
I should probably apologize because no doubt by the time you are old enough to read this letter, this principle will likely have been modeled and so drilled into you that the last thing you will want to do is read a letter on it. However, that doesn’t make it any less true so you get to hear it from me again here.
The pricelessness of flexibility in work and life comes back to the fact that time is that precious resource that we can never buy back.
Right now, we are in one of the longest bull markets in the history of our country. The stock market has pretty much gone up every year since the Spring of 2009 (with a couple of flat years in there) and the housing market has been going up significantly since 2012. There are now “We are hiring” signs everywhere, whereas from 2008-2012 finding a job was elusive and a good job was hardly existant.
We as humans have such very short memories. I am already seeing the kind of spending and lifestyle inflation that assumes these good times will last forever.
I was recently asked by a group of advisors for my input on the importance of taking time away from the business to plan and work on the business. My response was that I believed that taking intentional time away from life and business to plan your life and business is the most impactful thing that can be done to drive real success.
“Be careful not to climb the ladder so fast that when you get to the top you realize that it is leaning up against the wrong building.”
This strategy for financial independence is simple and does not require any fancy calculations to prove its validity. Saving and investing half of your income nearly guarantees that you will be financially independent in less than 15 years. Of course there are no complete guarantees when it comes to money, but this comes very close.
I write this letter with more sorrow in my heart than usual. The reason is that this is a lesson that I have had to learn over and over again throughout my life so far and will likely continue to learn.
There have already been too many times in my life where I was not wise enough to hear both sides of the story of a situation or to go to the source of information that was passed on to me. I suspect that it was out of fear and laziness that I have not always made the effort to verify information shared with me about a third person and the result is often hurt and/or loss of relationship.
Freedom, flexibility, control over your time, ability to serve others without the need to be well-compensated. These are a few of the goals for financial independence that you hear when talking to people who desire to not be tied to their paycheck.
One of the simplest actions that can be taken to move you in the direction of a life where you can pursue the most important things is to start investing early. Very early is even better.
As of this writing, my son, Randon (also my middle name), is nearly eight months old. Oh how time flies. From long before he was born I have grappled with an idea of wanting to pass along life lessons to my children that have impacted my life. Not only that, I have desired to pass these lessons on to them earlier than I learned them so that the compounding effect of these ideas will have a greater impact on their lives and, in turn, allow them to have a greater impact on the lives of those around them.