For those that don’t know, Jon Gordon is a NY Times best-selling author and a brilliant professional speaker. I consider him a friend and mentor. If you aren’t familiar with his work… do yourself a great service and buy his books. Trust me.

When I decided to pivot and become a professional speaker and author, I asked Jon for his guidance on how to shape my message and find my purpose. He hit me with one of the most profound questions I have ever been asked…

If you died tomorrow — what would you want your kids to know?

This question is always on my mind and what follows is simply a bulleted list of what I’ve come up with to this day.

For those that don’t know, I am the proud father of 10-year-old twin sons and a 8-year-old daughter.

So Luke, Jack and Lyla… listen up…

  • Life isn’t fair. And expecting or desiring it to be fair is a mindset of the weak. Play the hand you are dealt to the best of your ability.
  • You can’t be anything you want to be. But you can be anything you deserve to be. Big difference.
  • Want to become happier instantly? Trade your expectations for appreciations.
  • It’s your decisions, not your conditions, that shape your life. One decision can change the course of your life.
  • Every single decision you make has a consequence. Some positive, some negative.
  • Knowledge must lead to action or it is worthless.
  • Leaders will always be in demand.
  • The ability to make other people better is an invaluable skills set.
  • Success without fulfillment is meaningless.
  • Key to happiness: don’t have expectations, have preferences (and if your preferences aren’t met… let it go)
  • When your heart and brain align you resolve most issues quickly and efficiently
  • It doesn’t cost anything to be nice… to smile… or to say ‘good morning.’
  • You can fool anyone for about 15 minutes… after that you better know what you are doing.
  • It’s just as important to be liked as it is to be good — because being liked will help you get through the times when you aren’t so good.
  • The key to happiness is figuring out what is truly important and disregarding everything else.
  • Trust and honesty are the most important factors in all relationships.
  • Nothing of value comes without effort. Nothing.
  • You are only as good as your word. Do what you say.
  • The disappointment of failure doesn’t hurt as bad as the regret of not even trying.
  • If you truly care… it shows. And caring matters.
  • Knowledge, experience and memories are 3 things no one can ever take from you.
  • Define your own success.
  • Your attitude and your effort are the only 2 things in the world you have complete control over… so focus on them.
  • It’s OK to be proud of your success; but always remain humble.
  • A good reputation is a tremendous asset in every area of your life.
  • You will be happiest when you are growing, learning and improving.
  • You will be as happy as you choose to be.
  • It’s much easier to stay out of trouble than it is to get out of trouble.
  • Success isn’t something that happens to you, it’s something you make happen.
  • Don’t focus on money. Instead, focus on your passion, on excellence and on serving others… and the money will come.
  • You choose your habits and your habits dictate your success.
  • If there were no problems or challenges there would be no opportunities. So embrace them.
  • People will be more influenced by how much you care rather than how much you know.
  • People only allow themselves to be as happy, successful and fulfilled as they believe they deserve to be.
  • It’s OK to be content with what you have… but never with what you are.
  • Everyone’s greatest need is to feel loved and appreciated. So make as many people feel that way as you can.
  • In many cases, you have to do something to don’t want to do in order to have something you do.
  • You will always make the time for the things that are truly important to you. Your calendar reveals your priorities.
  • You won’t benefit from the things you intended to do. Action is what counts.
  • You can’t expect the very best if you don’t give your very best… every day.
  • The best way to appreciate something (or someone) is to be without it for a while.
  • In many cases, it takes just as much time and energy to wish for something as it does to actually do it.
  • Most people don’t look for the truth — they simply look for someone to agree with them.
  • The simplest way to find happiness is to stop complaining. Be thankful.
  • Everyone wants to be successful, but few people are willing to make the sacrifices necessary to achieve success.
  • People follow examples, not advice.
  • Don’t spend any time today worrying about yesterday. It’s over.
  • There is no such thing as ‘normal.’ We all see the world through our own lens (and biases). What’s normal to me may be abnormal to you.
  • Focus on your yard and on your grass… don’t worry if anyone else’s yard is greener.
  • We all have baggage and insecurities. How you deal with them will dictate your future.
  • It’s not what you do occasionally that matters… it’s what you do every single day.
  • Nothing is more important than your health and happiness, so live accordingly.