There is little I have written in my life that I have agonized over more than something this simple. After 40 years of teaching at colleges and universities part time with both undergraduate and graduate students (along with my business career as a manager, director, and three-time vice president for various health care organizations), I know from experience how short the attention span of young people is and their limited retention. While wanting to pass along as much as I can, I am not so arrogant as to not know that if you don’t make it short and concise, all you have to say will fall on deaf ears.
So let me focus on my number one goal in life. And that is “collecting tickets!”
Growing up poor in a rural Midwestern farming community in the 1950s with a divorced mother and two older brothers, I so looked forward to the tiny carnival we would have come to our small town each summer. City Fathers would reroute traffic and turn over our somewhat historic town square for a couple of days to kids and fun-loving adults. The very areas where Abraham Lincoln walked a hundred years before as a circuit-riding defense attorney, is where we stood in line to purchase 25-cent tickets to get our “not so death-defying” thrills!
The older I became I began to think of progressing through life as nothing more than another version of collecting the all-important tickets! By these I mean, a high school diploma, a college degree, a master’s degree, a reputation for not being afraid of hard work, hopefully a profession you enjoy, accreditation in your specialty, ability to influence others, progressively more responsible jobs, opportunities for exposure to others, creative ideas, becoming known as a trend-setter, long-lasting personal and professional relationships, community service, recognition by others, etc. The list can be endless and is different for everyone.
But two things never change! These will not always happen “when” and “how” you expect them and some may not always apply to you or end up taking a lot longer than you initially expect. The important thing is that you keep moving forward and acquiring these very important tickets! Not only is this key to personal growth, but it also gives you a reason to get up in the morning and try new things!
But don’t be so foolish as to think everything you reach for will be attained! Because of the constantly changing nature of life, some things will fall by the wayside (for me learning, how to fly an airplane) and others will take their place. But never forget; your success in life is only limited by your willingness to try!
And for gosh sake, don’t allow “fear of failure” to keep you from trying. Little do most young people realize that 99.99 percent of successful people end up failing more times than they succeed! Edison tried more than 200 light bulbs before he found one that would work over time. Babe Ruth struck out way more times than he ever hit a home run before he set the record. Everybody goes through it! Most of us just won’t admit to it! Along with this is coping with personal rejection. Expect it in life and find a way to deal with it. Never forget, you are usually rejected by one person or group and not the whole world!
And remember “No doesn’t always mean no!” That’s right! It may mean “no right now” or “no because there is something you didn’t tell me!” Because of lackluster undergraduate grades, I was rejected from graduate school on my first two attempts. But finally, on the third try, they said I could start on a provisional basis requiring “9 hours of B or above!” I got 9 hours A and finished with a 3.5 GPA! So there is always hope if you are willing to work hard!
And along with this in the crazy upside-down world we live in today, forget about what other people think of you! Unfortunately, the social media crowd has most young people fixated on “likes” and “dislikes!” Nothing could be more superficial and worthless than this!
One of the things my nearly four years in the Army taught me is that you are always capable of doing more than you think you can! It is human nature to stop well short of our limits! You won’t need to draw on this often, but when you, do it is invaluable!
And sadly, “don’t believe everything you are told.” Unfortunately, lies, half-truths, misleading information have become the common currency of the 21st century. Be skeptical of just about everything until proven otherwise!
In conclusion, I have only two more things that will eventually help you collect the most tickets. Be good to
yourself, reward yourself, realize none of us are perfect, and move on. More times than not, young people fail to take enough time to celebrate their victories in life and accomplishments. Realize what you like doing the most and then never be too busy to do it when you deserve it, and tell yourself, “a job well done!”
Finally, never stray too far from God! Based on my experiences over 75 years, I can honestly tell you there is definitely a higher power that occasionally acts in our lives in ways we simply can’t explain from a rational standpoint. You can’t understand it, you can only experience it and stand back in awe.
It is the only thing that will keep the evil side of human nature in check! Those that disregard this power and its basic laws do it at their own peril!
The tickets you collect in life are entirely up to you. Life can be quite an adventure with many good and bad things happening to you. But from my perspective, the “good” and “marvelous” far outweigh the bad!
Never allow anything to get you so depressed that you consider taking your life. Since life is constantly changing, you never know what you will miss out on if you “check out” too early.
Perhaps the wisest person I ever knew was a former pastor of mine who of all things was a former Army drill sergeant. One of his favorite sayings was, “Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem!”
I pray young people will think about these things and take them to heart! Growing up (even in your late teens and early 20s) is especially challenging in the 21st century. As a young person, don’t hesitate to benefit from the mistakes of others. Most want only what is best for you!
Les J. Hauser, Missouri
What advice would you like to give to the younger generations?
We call on all of our readers to share the timeless values that define right and wrong, and pass the torch, if you will, through your wisdom and hard-earned experience. We feel that the passing down of this wisdom has diminished over time, and that only with a strong moral foundation can future generations thrive.
Send your advice, along with your full name, state, and contact information to NextGeneration@epochtimes.com or mail it to: Next Generation, The Epoch Times, 5 Penn Plaza, 8th Fl., New York, NY, 10001.