Crash Course

Written by on August 13, 2018

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You’re on vacation, flying to your dream destination.  No kids, no worries. You were released from work on “probation” (you get two weeks each year) and you want to make the most of it.  Suddenly there is a loud bang and you hear the following:

“This is the captain speaking.  We just lost both engines and we’re preparing to set her down over some rough terrain.  I’ll be honest with everyone. We’re probably not going to make it. We’re looking at impact in about 45 seconds.  I’m sorry. God bless.”

The Dirt:  It can wait

That’s not a fun scenario for sure, but let’s take advantage of the hypothetical.  After you tell your family and friends that you love them, you have 30 seconds left.  You’ve lived several decades and have seen a lot. That experience could have been good or bad, but either way, you’re writing the last page in the book that is your life.  Here’s the challenge:

What three things would you tell your children about success in life if you had 30 seconds or less to do so?

As your parting gift to your precious children, what are those succinct nuggets that could help them avoid your mistakes and repeat your successes?  If nothing else, isn’t this our parental duty above all else except safety? This question is a test of three specific things.


What have you learned?

Have you ever considered or thought about what you’ve learned in life?  It’s amazing how many lessons we’ve been through, whether or not we got the message.  Yes, you’re busy. We get it. But are you just going through it or learning from it? In our daily hustle, it’s easy to manage.  We manage to eat, sleep (some), dress and feed the kids, and maintain some sort of income. When was the last time you’ve stopped the presses and took inventory of where you are?  

Learning is an intentional process.  It doesn’t happen by accident or automatically.  It is rooted in the struggles and failures we experience on a daily basis.  Based on that, imagine how many opportunities for learning that we’ve had so far.  But for us to learn anything, we must find the blessing in the adversity, the lesson in the pain.  Failure without learning is a waste of good life. After all, you’ve paid the price, so at least get the reward.  


Can you explain it concisely?

How clear are the three most important lessons you’ve learned in your life?  Is it clear enough to deliver it within 30 seconds? Clarity is the key to turning a generality into a specific item upon which someone could take action.  What good would it do to share your insights without the clarity required for your children to actually follow them?

Moreover, clarity requires understanding.  It’s very difficult to be clear about something you don’t quite understand.  In other words, if you can’t explain it to a 5th grader, you don’t understand it well enough.  Being able to articulate with brevity is a good sign that you know what you’re talking about.


Are you taking your own advice?

As appreciative as your children would be for your nuggets of wisdom, are you implementing your own advice?  In a world where it’s far easier to give advice than to take it, consider that if your advice is truly good, how irresponsible would it be for you to not follow it yourself?  

Furthermore, can you really expect your kids to follow advice which you don’t?  They say kids’ ears are closed to what we say, but their eyes are wide open to what we do.  So no matter what our pearls of wisdom may be, we better not hold our breath that our kids will heed our advice.  We must lead by example else we’ll demotivate them in like manner.

Here are my three golden nuggets that I believe to be necessary for people to have a successful life.  Of course, there are a host of other things that stem from these three, but these are the main points if I had to choose.  I will give you what I would say in 30 seconds and why I believe they’re important.

Share your gift.

I believe we all have something special we can bring to this world.  The biggest moral crime we can commit is to not determine what it is and to not share it.  Even though most people give up on both before their 25th birthday, it’s never too late to find it.  In fact, once we have it, it is our responsibility to share it. Imagine who it can help or those it may inspire.  Consider someone that impacted your life through music, literature, sports, or any other medium where they inspired you to think a little bit bigger.  Now imagine that person had never found or shared that gift. Consider what you would have lost. Our one job is to become the best version of ourselves.


Stay in control.

There’s nothing less freeing than not having control over your world.  We’re in a free country and should be free. Yet so many of us struggle to control ourselves, our emotions, and our behavior.  We allow others to make us mad. We allow ourselves to be marketed to instead of searching out education. We do what we’re told instead of thinking for ourselves.  We may not be able to control everything around us, but we surely can control how those things around us affect us on a daily basis.


Never ever ever quit.

When should you give up on life?  On yourself? On your dream? Never.  This is the only answer if we choose to live and not just exist.  Most people give up on the 30-yard line in life. They push for a while, don’t become millionaires right away, and give up.  Nothing in nature works this way and success in life is no different. Never expect the fruit before we grow the tree. Once you are focused and committed to a goal, bulldog it until the end.  Remember that the only time success comes before work is in the dictionary.

The Challenge

  1. Write the three things down.
  2. Remind yourself of what they are each day.
  3. Share with your family (don’t wait until the plane is crashing)
  4. Live by them daily.

The good news is that the plane hasn’t gone down yet.  This means that it’s not too late to share your wisdom but also to take your own medicine and get after it in life.  We only have one life to live, but if we do it right, that should be enough. I appreciate you. Looking forward to mutual success at the top ‘cause the bottom’s extremely crowded.

“Science is organized knowledge.  Wisdom is organized life.”

Immanual Kant

Josh Zepess


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