A lot has happened since my last blog. Charlotte “Lottie” Eloise Thomas was born on Super Bowl Sunday and we remodeled the restaurant. I wouldn’t recommend having a baby and a remodel in the same week on my worst enemy…it was a little stressful. But things have settled down and last night I took my three older girls to the annual “My Princess Dance,” our 8th year going. We look forward to this event all year! The girls get a new dress and new pair of shoes to wear every year and I wear my tuxedo and low-quarters (military dress shoes). After all these years, I still wear one the pair of low-quarters I received in 1999 as a Cadet at West Point. I reserved this particular pair of shoes for the most formal events and inspections. As I was polishing my shoes and preparing for the evening, I reminisced about the many hours I spent “spit-shining” my boots and shoes. However, all that work years ago, establishing a foundation, made making my shoes look excellent for last nights dance easy.
This idea of “foundations” has been on my mind a lot lately. Consider this parable:
Two builders, Bob and Joe, were competing for who could build a house the fastest. Bob started by digging his footer and pouring concrete. Joe, wanting to win, decided to skip the foundation and simply placed a piece of lumber on the ground and started building his walls. By the end of the second week, Bob had a two foot high brick foundation and Joe was already building trusses for his roof. On-lookers were laughing at Bob and commending Joe for his progress. Joe finished his house in less than 3 months, it took Bob over a year. Joe may feel he won the competition, but which house would you rather live in?
Surrounded by millennials and centennials daily, I witness their desire to “skip the foundation and win the perceived competition.” High speed technology has created impatience and things like getting a trophy for simply playing, have created entitlement and a false sense of winning. It’s really not their fault, they are just a product of the world they have grown up in and our politically correct failed parenting strategies.
So what do we do about it? We teach them about the importance of foundations. Foundations take time and work. Teach them that there are no real “short-cuts” to building character. One of the most important attributes for young people to possess these days is the ability to delay gratification. I personally believe it is the number one character trait that will lead them to a successful life. Look for opportunities to talk to them about how building a strong foundation will help them weather storms in the future. Share examples of how you have made personal short-term sacrifices for long-term gains. The many hours spent helping them establishing a foundation now will make excellence easier in their future.