Success in life takes patience, humility, hard work, passion, and good character.
*A few thoughts from a father to his children:*
It may be hard to believe, but in just a few short years, you’ll be out of the house and working to secure strong foundations in your personal, professional, and financial lives.
Thinking of this – as I often do – led me to start compiling a mental list of fatherly advice that I’d like to dispense along the way. This advice is based on years (many, as you are all fond of noting) of observations and learning, first as a student, then as a practicing trial lawyer, and finally as the Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Gluskin Sheff + Associates. Perhaps more importantly, it’s also based on my experience as a husband and father.
Job satisfaction will never be realized if you’re impatient. I’m always taken aback when I meet a recent graduate who seems to feel entitled to rapid and accelerated advancement the moment they’re hired. I’d like to tell them – as I am you – that it doesn’t matter how many degrees you have or what schools you’ve attended, you must earn the right to advance.
Similarly, financial security won’t be maximized if you’re impatient. Investments, for example, take time to grow and savvy investors understand this. Demonstrating patience during the down times may not benefit you in the short-term, but I guarantee you, it will in the long-run. Good investment ideas – like fine wines – often take time to reach their potential.
And, of course, relationships won’t bloom fully if you’re impatient. Both time and effort are essential to their success, and patience is an essential ingredient.
So please, take your time.
Never discount the role that luck plays throughout your life. True, most successful people are honest, hard‐working individuals, but I’d be willing to bet that, somewhere along the line, they’ve also benefitted from a stroke of good fortune. Chance circumstances such as the family you were born into, or even who your roommate at university turns out to be can have a profound impact on future successes.
Of course, luck isn’t a strategy or a substitute for applying oneself, setting high standards, and keeping your word as you progress through life; just recognize that being in the right place at the right time plays a role.
So please, be humble and remember how fortunate you are.
Passion and the desire to be the best will lead you to try new things and break new ground. In doing so, you will make mistakes along the way. Regardless of what you decide to do, be passionate about it, work hard, and always look for ways to do things better. I’m convinced that my greatest successes – including my career, marriage and, of course, you – owe a lot to the passion I bring to each.
You will make mistakes along the way – we all do. But if you learn from the experience and make new, rather than the same mistakes going forward, you’ll be fine. Mistakes usually happen the first time you try something new, so if you’re not making mistakes, you’re probably not challenging yourself.
So please, be passionate in all you do.
*Be a skilled listener*
I have discovered that I learn more when I am listening than when I’m talking. Real listening is a tough skill to master, and I’m a C‐student at best. I urge you to do better. There is great value in learning from the experience – both successes and failures – of others.
So please, have more questions than answers, and be open to receiving the wisdom of others.
*Be of good character*
I was thinking recently about the question of character and the role it plays in defining a leader. For example, in the world of business, Isadore Sharp, Founder and CEO of the Four Seasons hotel chain, is an undisputed leader. In politics, there are few greater leaders than the late Winston Churchill. And in sports, Canadiens great Jean Béliveau displayed his strengths as a leader both on and off the ice. (He must have been great, as this acknowledgment comes from a life‐long Leafs fan.)
I took a second look at my choices, and it occurred to me that, aside from achieving great things in their chosen professions, they have something else in common: good character. They led with a strong moral compass, took no shortcuts to success, and when they gave their word, they kept it.
Is this important? You bet it is. Without moral authority, your ability to lead, succeed, and influence the lives of others will be compromised. Consider the cases of Eliot Spitzer, John Edwards, Tiger Woods, Bernie Madoff, and countless others in the world of politics, sports, and business. Their lack of character got in the way.
So please, if you want to be a leader in any aspect of your life, be of good character.
Finally, don’t be in too much of a rush to get wherever you are headed. Take in the sights along the way and enjoy the journey. Doing so will provide much of your life’s texture and meaning.
With love, always,