My son, Brian, and I were talking about the wisdom I learned from Chubby (my dad). Brian told me he’d recently seen an article called “Rules For Sons” with an array of excellent (but not obvious) life lessons parents should teach their sons.
I checked them out and thought it would be a fun topic to share today, so here are a few of the best:
Don’t shake anyone’s hand while sitting down. Chubby never taught me this, but if you violate the rule you sense it’s true. When women stay seated, it seems okay. But when guys do it, it seems kind of wimpy (like a fishy handshake).
Return a borrowed car with a full tank of gas. What a classy thing to do. I heard a saying once, “A class act can say a lot without saying a word.” Doing this achieves that.
Don’t let a wishbone grow where a backbone should be. When I was a kid I got teased a lot because I was overweight (210 pounds at 12 years old). I wanted to stay home from school every day until Chubby forced me to confront the bullies at school who tortured me, even if it got me into a fight (which it did). Getting a backbone (and doing something with it) changed the trajectory of my life.
Never enter a pool using the stairs. This is another one that never occurred to me… but it’s true. How you enter a pool sends a message about you. Wouldn’t you rather be seen as a cannonball flying through life instead of a “tiptoe through the tulips” kind of person?
You marry the girl, you marry her family. This is a good lesson in “marriage survival.” They may not be “your kind of people” but when you say “I do” you have an obligation to the marriage to treat them the way she wants you to… and not complain about it.
Be confident and humble at the same time. There is a fine line between confidence and cockiness. Being 100% self-assured while maintaining a modest profile is a delicate balance and I believe one of the greatest lessons to be learned in life. As Zig Ziglar said, “Be strong, but not rude; Be kind, but not weak; Be bold, but not bully; Be humble, but not timid; Be proud, but not arrogant.”
The person at the grill is the most important person at the barbecue. This is a HUGE lesson on successfully navigating life. Whoever controls the food (or money, or promotion possibility) can often have a greater influence on your life. And remember that the ability to influence is not always obvious. As Salvador Dali said, “The secret of my influence is that it has always remained secret.”
A sport coat is worth 1000 words. The 1975 book, Dress For Success, by John Molloy opened my eyes to the power of personal appearance in propelling success. We know it’s true, but for some reason we often don’t go to the trouble. My advice? Go to the trouble and remember this fun quote by Mark Twain: “Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.”
Request the late check-out. Because, why wouldn’t you? Have you ever heard the phrase, “Don’t say no for the other guy?” It means that if you don’t ask you have no chance to get a “yes.” So if you care about staying longer in the room, having a better table at the restaurant, or getting a better price on what you want to buy, remember to give the other person an opportunity to say yes.
Never turn down a breath mint. Is the person offering you the mint trying to tell you something? Maybe. Maybe not. But why take the chance? Whether or not you have bad breath, it’s a sign of friendship to graciously accept a small gift…so take the mint with a smile.
Eat lunch with the new kid. It’s hard to be the newcomer in any situation at any age. Even people with big confidence can feel somewhat small in new situations with new people. It only takes one person to walk up, start a conversation, and introduce them around. Let that be you. It’s an easy way to become a hero in their eyes.