A few days ago I attended my nephew’s high school graduation. Really did seem like yesterday that my wife and I, along with my wife’s sister, brother and sister-in-law were watching the Mike Tyson/Evander Holyfield fight (can’t recall if it was the ear bite fight) and my two-year-old nephew was doing situps in diapers.
That was about the time I moved from New York to Dallas, and I started thinking about my career since the move – – opening and running a satellite office; the largest cross-country bike ride (at the time) in the U.S., benefiting the American Lung Association; agency-life; Breast Cancer Awareness Campaigns; State of the Air; Sydney and Salt Lake Olympics; Britney; the other Belushi; Michael Johnson (apparently my twin); World’s Largest Latte; Strategy for Answering Questions; COPD and CODP; Oprah; Christie; corporate-life; NYSE Opening Bell; spin; bankruptcy; emergence; internal; NASDAQ Opening Bell; social media; bankruptcy; emergence; merge, etc.
After the graduation, family and friends started talking to my nephew about the opportunities ahead for him. My nephew is a good young man. I’m confident he will grab whatever awaits him and will do his best. Funny thing, confidence, it is something that can make or break a career and is something I sometimes still struggle with today.
What would 45 year old (who am I kidding, soon to be 46 year old) Andy tell 1985 high school graduate Andy?
Dear Andy –
Man, you are thin. Keep that look. I know you are feeling overwhelmed. Leaving home for college is a stressful time. Fear of the unknown. On your own….hey, hang on, this letter is supposed to make you feel better, but I can tell it is just freaking you out even more.
Damn. Let me try this. Here is a picture of your family. Your wife… I know, right? Beautiful! And here is your son – – he’s 13 and your daughter , yes daughter – – she’s 10. Pretty awesome, right? Let me tell you a few things that will help you get to this “awesome” place:
- Breathe – Deep breaths. Enjoy everything that life has to offer you. Explore and embrace. Ask and learn.
- Stay true to yourself – No shortcuts. The key is to be able to look at yourself in the mirror every night and know that you were the best Andy you could be.
- Use “What if” wisely – I used to think, you never what to say “what if I did that” because you don’t want to have regrets or feel like you should’ve done something. While I absolutely still believe that, make sure you look at opportunities with a “what if” type of wonderment. The biggest challenges can be solved with that mentality.
- Don’t be afraid to fail – I can show you some of your grades and while it is obvious you will nail that, that’s not what I mean. Try new things; step outside your comfort zone and learn from your mistakes.
- Observe the Golden Rule – There is a reason why it’s called Golden, not silver or bronze. Live by it.
Couple of other things. Be passionate in whatever you do. Love and laugh hard.
Don’t let others define who you should be or what you should do. Apply these rules to everything you do in your life. Work…play…life. When 65 year old Andy leaves 45 year old Andy a message, remember to open it. And lastly, when you are in France don’t leave your bags unwatched when you go to the newsstand to check the Yankees score.
Always remember, a little song, a little dance, a little seltzer down your pants.