A few weeks ago I was privileged to speak to a high school football team. They were expecting a story of triumph in combat like they usually get, but I did something else. I didn’t have a lot of time to prepare much in the way of formal “mentor quotes”, so I wrote down some things off the top of my head that I wish I’d been told at their age. I addressed positivity. I talked about how they should find the positive, then be the positive in everything they touch. I then briefly explained something I found a few years back then later discovered much better explained in the words of Victor Frankl.
Then I gave them the list of things I think I know.
46 things a young man should know: and counting
The following was written for me to use as notes, so don’t beat me up on grammar, syntax, and other English stuffs.
Victor Frankl was an Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist, and Holocaust survivor, who survived four Nazi concentration camps including Auschwitz. This is what he told me.
“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” — Viktor Frankl
Forty-six things I’ve learned so far.
1. Never hold back a laugh or a smile.
2. Kindness and gratitude alone will get you further in life than anything else.
3. That girl who isn’t cute right now is going to be crazy hot in 15 years, so be kind.
4. There are people in this room who look up to you.
5. There are people who you don’t even know exist who look up to you.
6. Never look down on anyone.
7. You are loved.
8. Everyone knows more about or is much better than you are at something, just because it isn’t your thing, doesn’t mean they aren’t a genius and incredibly talented at their thing.
9. Treat everyone with respect regardless of their status or what they can or cannot do for you.
10. Accept responsibility for your actions. There are no excuses, only the choices you make.
11. Protect yourself and everyone else.
12. It’s okay to cry.
13. It is never uncool to have fun. You have a finite number of fun times in life. Embrace them all.
14. Keep your word, keep your promises.
15. When you walk into the men’s bathroom and there are no urinals, you aren’t in the men’s bathroom.
16. Respect women in words, action and even in private conversation among other men. We will never understand them, but we are meant to protect them. Not because they are fragile, but because they are precious.
17. Be yourself, the world has way too many fake people in it already.
18. High school and college is a lot easier if you just do the work.
19. The best leaders are the best followers and intellectual note takers.
20. You matter.
21. Learn first aid, bleeding control and CPR, someone will need you to have those skills one day – be ready.
22. Never let anyone else decide what you are supposed to think.
23. Your words and actions impact more people for far longer than you could ever imagine.
24. You are loved by more people than you realize.
25. Hug your mom and tell her that you love her every day. If you don’t have a mom, your best friend’s mom won’t mind if you hug her and tell her you love her.
26. Rarely does personal, physical, mental and spiritual growth occur without extreme discomfort. Embrace it.
27. It’s okay to be afraid, it’s not okay to let fear stop you from doing what’s right and what needs to be done.
28. Life is nothing, but a sequence of decisions on how to interact with other lives. You either choose to be kind and enhance yours and other’s lives, or you choose to be an asshole and hurt yourself and everyone else.
29. If it feels wrong, it’s wrong.
30. What you do matters.
31. Never say no to trying an unfamiliar food.
32. Always listen to the voice in the back of your head. If that voice says, “you probably shouldn’t do this,” you probably shouldn’t do it, unless it’s the right thing or really epic, in which case, ignore the voice in the back of your head.
33. Never pass up an opportunity to kiss a pretty girl. That’s not mine, Earnest Hemingway said that.
34. Not everyone can do anything, but everyone who is willing to suffer and put in the time and effort in the tireless pursuit of a seemingly unachievable goal, can do anything.
35. Be on time, I suck at this, but it’s a pretty big deal.
36. I have never done anything truly worth doing that was easy. It’s the difficult things that matter. If it were easy, everyone would do it.
37. Everyone is fighting something, don’t give them and yourself more to fight. Help and protect each other.
38. What you say matters.
39. I have known and fought alongside the toughest men as part of the finest fighting force on the planet, but the toughest person I have ever met was a woman.
40. Train to fight while training harder to avoid having to.
41. In 10 years, many of you likely won’t even remember the name of that person who matters so much to you, who just broke or is about to break your heart. You will be too busy trying to remember the other thirty-seven names.
42. Whether you take a stand or not, matters.
43. Read books. Set a yearly goal and increase it by five books every year.
44. Don’t procrastinate too much or you will end up with a crappy presentation for a high school football team on some Thursday night in Kansas.
45. Every second of every day, you represent your family name and the great men and women from history, who bore that name before you. They fought, survived and died through immeasurable difficulties, far more severe than anything we encounter today. Wear your family name with pride. If another family member has tarnished your family name – clean it. If it’s untarnished – maintain it. Countless lives got you here to this opportunity at life, do something great with yours regardless of what “great” means to you.
46. Live a life full of gratitude. It isn’t submissive, nor does it make you less of a man. It is the opposite. To set the example – thank you and remember that the choice of positivity between stimulus and response will always be the right one.
I’ll check back in when I figure out #47.
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