A Letter to My Unborn Son – Part 1
Not only are you not yet born but – as far as I know – you’ve not even yet been conceived…
However, it feels like time to write to you.
I’m not going to tell you how you should live your life – without a doubt that would result you doing the very opposite of every piece of advice I offer you!
Instead, I’ll share with you the ‘traditional’ guidance I was offered and the ‘non-traditional’ lessons I learned on my own journey.
And I’ll leave you free to create your own amazing life…
1. What they told me: “Don’t Stand Out…”
I lacked such confidence as a child, son.
I recall my first day in high school at 11 years old. The teachers told us that from now on we would be addressed by our last names. And I still remember thinking that’s horrible, I want to be called by my first name.
But I did nothing. In fact, it didn’t even cross my mind that I could say what I wanted to the teachers.
So, I watched in awe as one other boy – who was later to become a great friend of mine for many years – said no. He simply said no to the teachers. He said he wanted to be called by his first name.
And what seemed crazy to me at the time, they agreed. He was the only boy in the entire school who was called by his first name.
Why didn’t I ask the same thing?
I was simply too focused on fitting in. I wanted to be accepted and I wanted to be liked.
In fact, I spent most of my life trying to be accepted and to get people to like me..
What I learned: “Don’t Give a F**k…”
It took being fired, and leaving my dream home, to live in a hut on an island in South East Asia, for this to really hit me.
One day I noticed – 3 whole months after I’d lost my job – that I was still telling people my old job title. The thing was, I hadn’t done that job for months. And no one really cared.
I’ve always admired those people who followed their hearts. Those people who took risks; ignored other people’s advice and trod their own unique path in life.
And one day, I discovered that I was becoming one of them…
I’d sold my house at a time when everyone advised me not to (property is the best investment you can make, they warned me back in 2006!) I resigned as CEO of a large coaching company when everyone said that staying would be the best thing for my career.
I proposed to Monique when I’d known her for only 10 days and everyone said I was crazy! And I stayed in love with Monique when she left me to pursue her dreams. (And now we’re back together, stronger than before).
It took many, many years for me to discover that the less I worry about what other people think of me, the more I get to live an amazing life…
I can’t think of a better description for this than “Don’t Give a F**k!” – Not in a disrespectful way, more like the quality you have when you can dance as if no one is watching!
“Don’t compromise yourself. You are all you’ve got.”
- Janis Joplin
2. What they told me: “Build your confidence…”
So I did. I spent years learning ways to become more confident.
And none of them worked.
Well, some of them did in the short term. For example, I did get incrementally more confident at speaking in public, meeting women and having job interviews, etc. But they never really worked at the deepest level. You see, on the inside, I was always worried what people were thinking of me. I was always scared they would find out that I didn’t have it all worked out.
I felt terrified on the inside. I felt like a fraud at times. And I did everything I could to hide that from you.
Except, of course, what you resist persists…
The more I tried not to be scared, the more scared I was on the inside. The more I tried to ‘fake it til you make it’ with my own confidence, the less authentic I felt. And the more I tried to prove myself, the less I was admired by my bosses, partners and friends.
What I learned: “Build Your Natural Confidence…”
I spent over 15 years as a teacher – in schools from inner city London to rural Africa. And I noticed one single quality that defined whether my students were going to be successful in the future or not.
Now, I don’t mean successful at school which – lets be honest – is defined by the number of facts you can regurgitate about The Vikings, The French Revolution or equilateral triangles.
I mean real success.
Success in life…
Falling in love. Creating great relationships. Doing what you love. Making an impact in the world. Generating money when you want to. Having great friendships. Taking risks. Doing things others tell you are impossible. Having your heart broken. Falling down. Failing spectacularly. And getting up and starting all over again.
That ability was defined by a quality I saw on rare occasions in my students and I now get to nurture in my clients.
It’s what I call ‘natural confidence’.
A sense of ease in yourself. A sense of being comfortable in your own skin. And an ability to be truly ME…
‘Being me’ is the only way I have discovered to build my natural confidence.
It isn’t always comfortable. Its definitely not the easy road. And there is no map for ‘Being me’ (Lets face it, there has never been a ‘me’ on this earth before. Ever!)
But the less I hide, the more I follow my heart and the more I trust my intuition – the more amazing my life becomes and the more successful I become.
Why did nobody ever mention that to me when I was young?”
“Don’t ask what the world needs.
Ask what makes you come alive and then go do that.
The world needs more people who have come alive.”
- Howard Thurman