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As a mother, there are many decisions you cannot make for your son; someday, your boy will grow into a man and choose his own path in life: his own occupation, his own love, and his own beliefs and values. But there are certain things that any mother can say to her son to help him to make the most out of whatever life he chooses.
1. Get involved with activities at school.
If you love sports, play sports. But know that you can do any activity that brings value into your life. That could mean anything from membership on a sports team to membership in the physics club or chess club. If there is no club for you, start one of your own and lead the way.
Never assume you are too different to find a place among your peers, even if that place hasn’t been established yet.
2. Become part of a community, and look for ways to help others.
Volunteer, donate to charity, or set up a food drive. What goes around comes back stronger. Do your part to help others, and you will enjoy the immediate reward that comes with knowing that you improved another person’s life. There are few things which can create greater happiness.
3. Set ambitious goals, but never lose sight of what brings meaning to your life.
If wealth, power, and influence appeal to you, never forget why you want them. Pursue success in your career someday, but always remember that money is not the same thing as wealth. It is what you do with your money that brings value into your life and the lives of others.
4. Be a leader, but know that leadership takes many forms.
You may thrive at the top of the chain of command in an organization or company someday, but you do not have to be the “alpha dog” in order to achieve greatness and lead others. You may find you achieve the most in a support role and are happiest there. There is nothing wrong with that.
5. Leadership isn’t about fitting in.
Real leaders always distinguish themselves from the herd in some way. Don’t be afraid to be different. Always speak what is true in your heart.
6. Discover what it means to you to be a man.
Be true to yourself, no matter where it leads you, even if you worry you are outside your traditional gender role. You can feel secure in your gender no matter what your interests are. Your gender identity and your interests are up to you to decide, not somebody else.
7. Pursue your dreams, but understand the difference between dreams and goals, and set realistic goals.
“Do what you love and the money will follow” is a lovely sentiment, but depending on what you love, it may not be possible. For a lucky few, pursuing dreams and setting a practical career path may be one and the same.
For most, however, a practical career may be something which supports a dream, rather than fulfills it. It doesn’t mean you are giving up.
8. Save money and learn how to budget.
It may not sound like a lot of fun, but once you get in the habit, it will be easy. Remember how hard you are working for your money! When you put that much work into making money, you deserve to know where every penny is going. These are tough economic times.
9. Don’t be a bully,
and don’t be afraid to stand up to those who are.
10. Nothing is certain in life, and bad things will happen to you.
But the only constant is change, and that means there is always hope.
11. Do not be afraid to be honest and be yourself in your relationships, including relationships with women.
The relationships that last are built on real personal connection, not on a guessing game.
12. Don’t be afraid to take pride in your appearance.
Women may be called the “fairer sex,” but taking care of your looks does not make you less of a man.
13. Be polite.
You will accomplish far more in life by saying “please” and “thank you” than you will by bullying others.
14. Strength and power are not measured in terms of your ability to domineer over others or get them to act against their will.
Real strength can look like vulnerability, and real power comes from respecting others, even in their differences.
15. Don’t be afraid of diversity, or condemn what you do not understand.
Always strive to build bridges of understanding, and never trust your assumptions about others. If in doubt, ask questions. And always thank other people for their trust.
16. Don’t drown in regrets, but don’t be afraid to admit you were wrong, and apologize to others and to yourself.
Allow yourself to grow into a better person, and you will no longer be the person who made the mistake.
17. Have a sense of humor.
It will help you enjoy the good times and help you to get through the bad times.
18. Be good and be fair. Extend your hand to others when you can.
But always remember that you were given but one heart, and you do not need to jump off a cliff for someone who is not in it.
19. Find something that lifts you up and fills your heart, and dedicate yourself to it, whether it is an occupation, a personal pursuit, a relationship, or your faith.
Let it change you and help you grow. But never lose sight of the fact that other people have different paths to walk. Support them in their own paths, as you look for support in yours.
20. If you still haven’t found what lifts you up, never give up.
Never let someone else tell you who you are.