My B.M.W. (Beautiful Marvelous Wife) is pregnant and we’re going to have the baby any day now, literally. I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want to teach my kid and here’s what I’ve come up with:
1. Character is who you are when no one is looking. My father shared this truth with me and my brothers at an early age. We all know it’s easy to do the right thing when someone’s watching, but what happens when your audience disappears? I want my child to understand that the decisions you make in private are more important that the decisions you make in front of a crowd. Why? Because what we do in private defines who we are. When that small voice whispers to my child, “Don’t worry, no one is looking… no one is going to get hurt,” I want him/her to realize it’s those “small choices” made in hiding that truly define the kind of person that we are. When you’re home alone, the kind of shows you watch, the thoughts you think, and actions you do define the real person you are. It’s not “kicking back,” “rewarding yourself,” or “being selfish for once.” Character is who you are when no one is looking.
2. Choose your friends wisely. My parents used to say, “Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future,” and this truth nugget is as about as close as you can get to peering into a crystal ball. I’m a firm believer in the fact that you are who your friends are. Every time I hear parents complaining about the “wrong path” their kids are going down it doesn’t take long to figure out it’s because they are hanging with the wrong crowd. I’ve run in a number of different circles over the past 15 years — I had my Christian circle, my runners’ circle, my fitness model circle, my clubbing circle, my Internet business circle, and my experiences — positive and negative — were always reflective of the circle I was running with. It’s very clear to me that my worst decisions and lowest moments occurred when I was in my clubbing circle and partying hard with my Gino buddies. I will teach my child this timeless truth: “Do not be misled: bad company corrupts good character.”
3. To recognize that temptations are an opportunity to do good. During the course of my child’s spiritual journey, I hope he or she recognizes temptation as a stepping stone rather than a stumbling block, and that tempting situations are just as much an occasion to do the right thing as they are to do the wrong thing. Temptation simply provides the choice. I believe that temptation is designed to help us grow and mature. As an example, life teaches us how to love by putting unlovely people around us. Joy can occur in the midst of sorrow. Peace can occur during times of stress. Patience can be forged during times of anger. I want my child to recognize temptations in life as an opportunity to positively develop his or her character.
4. Listen, love and respect your mommy. Ultimately, the only way my child will learn this is if I, the husband and father, listen, love and respect mommy. The best thing my father did for me and my brothers was to love my mom. Through God’s grace and power, we were very blessed to see him love her, swallow his pride (many times), humble himself and treat her like a goddess. This is not something you teach with words; this is something you teach through actions.
5. Make as much money as you can. Save as much money as you can. Give as much money as you can. This was my mom’s advice at an early age and I will encourage my child to chase after their dreams. Growing up in a slightly traditional Italian family, we were encouraged to go after “security” – to get a good job and don’t take too much risk. I did the opposite. I pursued the fitness industry which has zero security and a very high turnover. However, I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit and desire to create something of my own and to build a business that allowed me to make as much as I want, save as much as I want and give as much as I want required taking on a lot of risk. So when my child starts saying, “Daddy, I want to start my own business,” it’ll be something I fully support and encourage.
6. Read every single day. I grew up reading. I started off with comic books although my mom didn’t like many of them. I read everything from The Punisher War Journal to the Incredible Hulk, Ghost Rider, X-Men, Spiderman and Wolverine. I still have boxes hidden away. Then I got into fantasy novels — Terry Brooks, Stephen R. Lawhead, and J.R.R. Tolkein were my favorite. Then I got into lots of Christian books in my teens to learn how to handle temptation and peer pressure. In university I was surrounded by massive science books on anatomy, physiology, biomechanics, psychology and more. Then after university I started reading sales books and wealth creation books from guys like Jim Rohn, and Robert Kiosaki. I grew up seeing my mother and father read every single day and this became a very pleasurable habit that I will pass along to my kids. My kids are going to grow up around books and they will value going to the “bookmobile” or local public library on a regular basis. I will teach them the saying, “Every time you watch a reality TV show, a book commits suicide.”
7. Be a doer, not a talker (or debater). I want my child to understand that you learn from doing, not talking or debating (which I personally think is the biggest waste of time). At the end of the day I want my child’s actions to speak louder than his or her words. I want my child to be an ACTION TAKER and value SPEED OF IMPLEMENTATION — the time it takes to hear something and then do something about it. Talk is cheap and I want my child to understand that life is God’s best teacher and there is nothing more important than experiences you gain from taking action.
8. Swim, Bike, Run…. and save the bodybuilding for later. Swimming, biking and running (I was a national level tri-athlete) laid the foundation for the rest of my life. In my opinion, those are the three most pure sports in the world. Thankfully, my father introduced the sport of long-distance running to me and my brothers at a very early age. Although we were encouraged to do team sports, I sucked at them. I was OK at soccer but that was it. I excelled in distance sports where I learned the character traits that forged me into the man I am today — hard work, discipline, endurance, getting outside of your comfort zone, and learning how to deal with disappointment. So many lessons occurred from these sports that can’t be taught with words, only experience, and I hope my kids have a passion for these same sports. Plus, being a competitive tri-athlete and endurance runner gave me the opportunity to travel the world, kept me out of trouble, and made me comfortable with being uncomfortable. If they want to lift weights recreationally, that’s totally fine, but I will encourage team sports and endurance sports first and foremost.
9. Foods can make you healthy or make you sick… but don’t miss out on your Italian culture! I believe that health starts on the inside of the body and inside of the home. It’s not about being 5% body fat, it’s about having energy, beautiful skin, focus and drive. The right foods can do this for you. Growing up I ate almost everything and anything and wasn’t introduced to ANY form of “healthy nutrition” knowledge until university. I lived off of Kraft Dinner, pork and beans, cereal, granola bars, pasta, peanut butter and jam sandwiches, Nutella and bagels — and I never went over 5% body fat! I never ate protein and I’d never heard of the terms soy, gluten-free, GMO, raw food, organic, grass-fed etc. These words were foreign to my vocabulary, and I was a high-level athlete, so it’s hard for me to think and say, “I’m not going to allow my kids to eat anything processed, packaged or boxed,” because I practically lived on everything you’re not supposed to eat and turned out fine. Since my wife and I have dedicated our lives to healthy eating I know we’ll be introducing our kids to high quality proteins, vegetables, fruits, nuts, oils, legumes, seeds, low-glycemic carbs and high-quality supplements right away. Heck, my wife’s prenatal nutrition plan would put a professional fitness model diet to shame. With that all said, we’ll certainly allow our kids to experience the Italian food culture and tasty desserts on special occasions.
10. Be positive and see the good in everyone and everything. Maybe this is naïve and not great “street smarts” but it’s this mentality that I consider one of my best traits. I want my child to see the positive in every single situation. When you go through a breakup, see it as a positive, not a negative, because the next one is going to be even better. God doesn’t give you “second best”. When you grow up with skinny genetics, look at it as a positive, not a negative, because you’re going to be forced to work smarter not harder. When someone hates on you, look at it as a positive, not a negative, because you’re standing up for your convictions and their hate is just an expression of their insecurities and jealously. I’m going to teach my child to see every single situation in life with a positive attitude and perspective. There is no other way to live life.
I have to admit that life has been pretty easy up until now and I’m excited to see how this baby transforms me more than I transform him or her. I would love to hear the #1 lesson you want to share with your child or you do share with your child. Let me know below and thanks for allowing me the opportunity to post and share.
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