I had a life coach once upon a time. He was my coach long before life coaching became an actual profession. He wrote me a life-changing letter that I have kept in a fireproof safe for over 30 years. I want to share it with you now:
Why should a father want his daughter to get the best grades she is capapble of achieving? I suppose that some fathers want their daughters to perform well in school so they can say to people they know…”Isn’t my daughter something special? She’s pretty; she’s popular and she’s very bright! Look how well she’ doing in school!”
But fathers who push their daughters to perform well in school simply to brag to their friends are, themselves, not very bright! Afterall, it’s really just an act of God if a daughter happens to be pretty or popular or athletic or bright. Why should a father take credit for that? And, in a broader sense, wouldn’t a father be a rather shallow person if he had to live his life through the accomplishments of his children?
But my reason for wanting you to do as well in school as you can is totally different. I want you to learn all you can and get good grades because, by doing so, you will improve the quality of your life. In other words, I want you to work hard for your benefit, not for mine.
You know, when girls reach their teens, many of them begin to feel their fathers are rather dumb. Fathers and sometimes mothers, are often looked at as being old-fashioned, not very smart, and certainly not in tune with what’s going on. Afterall, fathers are pretty old guys whose own teen-age experiences happened a long, long time ago. And since fathers were never girls, they certainly cannot be expected to know what is really important to a young lady today. Perhaps you feel that way too—it’s only human nature that you do. Let me tell you that as you look backwards ten years from now, you will have an entirely different perspective.
Let me tell you also that I am in a very good position to see the benefits of studying hard–and the consequences of not doing your very best in school. In my business, I’ve seen a dozen or more young ladies just out of high school working for us. In dealing with my clients, I’ve seen dozens more. At first, typing or doing other clerical work seems interesting and exciting to them. After awhile, that work becomes boring and tedious and they begin to question the value of what they are doing and even their own self-worth. Many feel they are in a terrible rut at only 18, 19, or 20 years of age! What a terrible position to be in! I want something better for you.
Some of the girls I’ve spoken about go off to further their education. Others have tried but cannot because they did not perform well in high school. In other words, they did not leave open the option of going to college, let alone the college of their choice. Now, not everyone should go to college. Maybe that is not the right thing for you. But don’t make the mistake of losing that option by not studying– by choosing instead to take the easy way out, ignoring your studies and playing your way through school.
Now I know you are not receiving failing grades. You may argue that your grades are not so bad that they would keep you out of college if you wanted to go. But there is a second and maybe more important reason for studying hard. The more you study and learn, the more your mind will expand to look at life a little differently than persons who are not well-educated. That is hard for me to describe and for you to understand, I’m sure. All I know is that the better educated and more knowledgeable a person is, the more meaningful and satisfying their life seems to be for them. Of course, there are exceptions, but less knowledgeable people seem to be inflexible in their thinking and less happy with themselves and the world around them.
Now you may think I’m overreacting to your mediocre report card. Why write all of this just because you are likely to get a couple of “C’s”? Well, I’m not writing this because of your report card. I’m writing because I care about you. I’m writing because I think it’s important for you to always live up to your potential for YOUR sake. I’m also writing because I think you are bright enough that if you really think about it, you’ll buckle down on your own without being forced into by your parents.
I’m seriously thinking about putting severe restrictions on your social life. I’m also seriously thinking about having you change schools next year. I don’t really know what I’m going to do yet and I won’t do anything until first talking it over with your mother. I’m not sure restrictions of any sort would do any good. You and ONLY you can decide if change your study habits and effort.
I hope you read what I have to say and that you will save it and read again from time to time. Remember that I love you and I want the best for you.
Andy Czajka 1936-1989