At age 55, I have my first child, a son. He will be 10 months old on Christmas Eve and his presence is a wonderful Christmas present to me and my wife.
I’ve always had a strong sense of duty, and felt heavily the mantle of leadership, acknowledging the tremendous responsibility leadership entails.
Now I think about being a worthy father, about what values I want to pass on to my son. This is particularly important to me because my father did such an excellent job of being a father and of fully living the values he believed.
He was one of the kindest, most patient, altruistic men I’ve had the privilege to know, a man who devoted much of his free time to community service. In many respects, my father was ahead of his time. In the 1960s and 1970s, he was the driving force for our community’s first green space zoning, our first sign ordinance, and our first indoor clean air act, long before the concepts became accepted and the norm.
In spite of all I put my father through as a teenager, I remember him losing his temper only once. I hope my son will be able to say the same.
My Son is a long way from being able to read, but I’ve had Rudyard Kipling’s poem “If” typeset and it runs around the top of the walls of his bedroom.
When I visit my son’s room, I often look at my favorite phrases:
- If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, but make allowance for their doubting too
- Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies
- If you can dream, and not make dreams your master
- If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew to serve your turn long after they are gone and so hold on when there is nothing in you except the will which says to them: “Hold on”
- If all men count with you, but none too much
- If you can fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds’ worth of distance run
My father gave me the gift of an incredible legacy of love and solid values and he always believed in me. It is an astounding inheritance, a tremendous treasure, wealth far beyond gleaming gold or sparking gems or mere lucre.
Every time I see my son’s smiling face greet me, I vow once again to be worthy of his love and trust, to pass on to him the legacy my father has given to me.
by Rudyard Kipling
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;
If you can dream, and not make dreams your master;
If you can think, and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build ‘em up with worn out tools;
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the will which says to them: “Hold on”;
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings, nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And––which is more––you’ll be a man, my son!