Personal circumstances have made this week a time for reflection.
Climate change. Inept politicians. Ballooning debt levels. Increasing social tension. Pension crises.
As important as they are, these topics can all wait for another week.
My mother-in-law is dying. Death brings life into focus.
We never expected her to make it to 2020, but true to form she defied the odds.
Our last Christmas together was a memorable one.
Drawing on her depleted energy reserves, she endured having makeup applied, being dressed in her favourite outfit and then getting hoisted into a reclining, over-sized wheelchair.
When she entered the room of gathered family, she simply smiled.
Being surrounded by her three daughters, six grandchildren and two great grandchildren, was the only gift she wanted…and it showed.
The outpouring of love for her was priceless. No amount of money could buy what was in that room.
The deep respect and affection afforded to her was earned from a lifetime of loving, nurturing and leading by example.
My mother-in-law is living proof that the best investment any of us can make is in our family.
Valuable lessons on how to create a rich life
‘The only lasting things that you can pass on to your children are not assets, but your value system, and yourself as the best role model you can be.’
Michael Cannon Brookes Snr
This extract came from the following article:
I thought it was a great quote.
Michael Cannon-Brookes Snr is the father of one of Australia’s richest persons…Michael Cannon-Brookes Jr.
Michael Cannon-Brookes Jr and his business partner Scott Farquhar founded tech company Atlassian. According to Australian Financial Review on 2 January 2020…
‘The two brains behind Atlassian again featured highly on this [rich] list. Mr Cannon-Brookes’ and Mr Farquhar’s respective $13.5 billion and $13.2 billion…’
His dad’s sage advice of ‘being the best role model you can be’, sums up our parenting responsibility in a nutshell.
If we follow that advice, then there’s a pretty good chance your value system will be inherited.
There were a couple of other notable extracts from the article that reinforced the values we should hold near and dear.
‘Global issues were a topic at the dinner table, and the children were used to crossing the globe during school holidays.’
How refreshing to hear someone mention the value to be found in dinner table conversations.
Turn the TV off. Put the phones on silent. Shut down computers. Dinner time is family time.
Chat about each other’s day. Discuss topical issues. Ask what new things were learnt that day. Talk through any problems that may have arisen.
Dinner time is precious time. It provides a fabulous chance to connect with each other.
The dinner table is great for practicing the art of conversation and communication. Asking those open ended questions — who, what, how and why — to dig deeper into the subject matter.
Travel is a great way to expand your horizons…opening up imaginations to what’s possible.
To be thankful for what you have. To connect with different cultures. To see the world through the eyes of others. To make new relationships.
Travel provides an excellent opportunity to make lasting memories with the family.
Those ‘remember when’ moments.
‘He and his wife taught their children to be humble and treat everyone equally, regardless of their station in life. This is reflected in Atlassian’s laser focus on being the employer of choice, its charitable foundation and values of ‘no bullshit’ and ‘don’t f— the customer’.’
Humility and gratitude are two qualities we should strive to pass onto our children. Being thankful for what we’ve been given in life is one way of staying grounded…irrespective of our financial success.
Treating everyone equally is a modern day version of ‘do unto others as you would have them do unto you’.
Saying it and doing it are two different things.
If you don’t walk the talk — by behaving in a superior manner to wait staff — then no prizes for guessing what lesson your children will learn.
If we say it, we must live it by being the best role model we can be.
Another father of a very successful son has written a book titled Showing Up for Life. The author’s name…Bill Gates Snr.
I’m sure you can guess who his son is.
On a side note, there might be some secret formula for success in naming your son after yourself.
According to Amazon (emphasis is mine):
‘In his book, ‘Showing Up for Life,’ Bill Gates Sr. shares values and principles from a lifetime of ‘showing up’ — lessons that he learned growing up in the Great Depression, lessons that he instilled in his children and continues to practice on the world stage as the co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. ’
Lessons learned. Lessons instilled. Lesson practiced daily.
It’s a repetitious theme, but it’s the daily practice of good habits that produce quality outcomes.
In discussing his book, Bill Gates Snr said (emphasis added):
‘There is one lesson I’ve learned over the years as a father, lawyer, activist, and citizen which stands above all the others that I hope to convey in these pages. It is simply this: We are all in this life together and we need each other. Showing Up for Life. Eighty percent of success is showing up.’
Being there. Reliability. Dependability. Knowing you can be counted on.
Why do I show up so much? Well, I suppose there are a lot of reasons.
In the book he expands on why he ‘shows up’ and how it’s influenced his family (emphasis added):
‘I show up because I care about a cause. Or because I care about the person who asked me to show up. And maybe sometimes I show up because it irritates me when other people don’t show up.
‘My obsessive showing up has become a joke among my children. Still, I notice they’ve picked up the habit. And frankly, that’s what happened to me.
‘I started showing up because as far back as I can remember I watched other people I admired showing up.’
Values are caught. After watching the actions of others, he developed the habit of ‘showing up’. Which in turn has influenced his own family.
He went on to say:
‘My parents, on a scale of one to ten, were nines at showing up. My dad was somebody people knew they could count on. If there was money to be raised for a good cause, my dad was always willing to call on people and ask them to give a few dollars. He had led the effort to have a new park built in town. I read about it in an old newspaper long after he died. I had not known about it, but it didn’t surprise me.
‘My mom showed up for a long list of community activities that included everything from picnics to fund drives.
‘My parents never talked about showing up. They just did it.’
No fuss. No fanfare. Just do it. That’s humility being taught.
From little things big things grow.
Bill Gates’s grandparents had no idea that the value system they practiced daily would one day lead to the establishment of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
According to Wikipedia…
‘The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), previously the William H. Gates Foundation, is a private foundation founded by Bill and Melinda Gates. Based in Seattle, Washington, it was launched in 2000 and is reported to be the largest private foundation in the world holding [US] $50.7 billion in assets. The primary aims of the foundation are, globally, to enhance healthcare and reduce extreme poverty, and, in the US, to expand educational opportunities and access to information technology.’
If we show up every day and be the best role models we can be, we’ll create a legacy we can be proud of…one that could have far reaching benefits in generations to come.
That certainly is my aim.
If, when my time comes, I can be held in the esteem of my mother-in-law, then my life will have been a success.