I’m starting a new category here on the blog. It’s called “For Collin and Finn” and will be a place where I can share thoughts and ideas that I’d like to share with my boys but can’t because of circumstances. Some of these posts will be public and some private, but they are here so that one day they can know me. I have so many regrets about the last four years, regrets of time lost with them, of those special firsts that I didn’t get to share, of not having the financial resources to do more for them. In a way, these posts are my effort to make up for all that we’ve lost and missed out on, and while nothing can ever give us back the time, my hope is that one day when they are old enough, they will read these entries and understand how badly I miss their presence, their laughter, and their energy.
Sons, the most important lesson I want to teach you, if you learn nothing else from me, is that there is no substitute for hard work. Regardless of what path you choose in life — artist, musician, director, doctor, plumber, or carpenter — there are no shortcuts for success. You will have to dedicate yourself to learning your craft, and you will have to spend countless hours practicing to hone your skills. If you want to be great at what you do, and my hope is that you’ll strive for greatness, you cannot get around that simple fact. Be prepared to study and struggle and fail and relearn and try again.
This world is a competitive place, and whatever path you choose, there are thousands out there who want to achieve success in that field. If you want to stand out from the crowd, work harder than they do. Set your will to achieving your aspirations and let nothing hold you back or slow you down. You will learn that if you give your all and fight with everything inside you to reach those goals, even if you fail, you will feel pride in knowing you gave it your best. I’ve learned this one firsthand because I’ve had more than my share of failures, but when I lay my head down at night, I know in my heart that those failures were not from lack of effort. When life has you down, and it will knock you down at some point, having that sense of pride to hold onto is important. It will give you the strength to get back on your feet and try again.
So please, guys, don’t go through your lives searching for shortcuts or hoping for windfalls. Good luck and fast bucks are too far and too few between, as the Outlaw once sang, and if you wait for life to give you anything, you will find yourselves bitter and disappointed. Work hard at whatever you do; commit yourself to pursuing excellence; and never quit. I learned that from your grandfather and great-grandfather, and I hope you can learn it from me, too.