What Will I Leave My Boys

Category: Families & Generations, Weekly Columns

The recent death of Steve Jobs was yet another stark reminder of the fragility of life. No matter how rich or famous you are, the grim reaper does not care. While I won’t admit how close in age Jobs and I are, I will admit that I fully recognize that my life could end any moment, though I pray it doesn’t. There is still too much to do, see, and too much work left to do.

But, as we never know, I’d like to leave some takeaways for my boys. Some call this sort of thing, “a living will.” Why do we only leave our loved ones our money and our things? Why not leave them something much more precious: our beliefs and whatever wisdom we may have learned on our journey of life?

So, herewith, are my takeaways for my two boys, who are now 15 and 18. They are full of life, full of promise, full of hormones, and teenage cockiness. I hope I’m around to watch their journey, but just in case…

Tikkun Olam – Repair the World

Tikkun Olam is a Jewish phrase that literally means to “Repair the World.” I believe that it is our obligation as human beings to do whatever we can to make the world a better place. Boys, please do your part, too.

Fight For Meaning In Your Life

The Occupy Wall Street protests are an example of fighting for nothing. There are real fights to be fought. Please choose the battles that matter and stand up for what you know is right. Don’t just follow along because it looks like fun.

What Goes Around Comes Around

I love clichés. Why? Because clichés are mostly based on common sense and real life experience. While ultimate justice is not always clear on this earth, I sincerely do believe that one way or another whatever you do will come back to haunt you. So, be kind, be considerate, and don’t waste your energy on revenge or hate.

Always Open the Door

I don’t care what is Politically Correct; open the door for every woman you encounter. Treat the women in your life like they’re special. Pick up the tab, be a gentleman, be a man.

Your Word Is Your Bond

Say what you mean, mean what you say, and keep your word. Don’t make any promise that you don’t intend to keep.

Give and You Always Get

The more you give in life, the more you will receive. It’s amazing how this karma works. You’ve seen the beauty of my mentoring our friend with a fatal illness. You’ve also seen the length of my relationship with my by now 30-something “Little Sister,” who I became a Big Brother to when she was eight. Who can you help? Who can you mentor?

Don’t Take It Personally

The world does not revolve around you. Don’t take it all so personally. Most of the time, IT has nothing to do with you!

Sleep On It

Whenever you are upset, don’t respond in the moment. Whether a friend or a loved one has seemingly hurt you, or a job has reached the breaking point, sleep on it. Whatever you think you HAVE to do right now, you can still do tomorrow.

This Too Shall Pass

You’ve heard me say this numerous times. This too shall pass applies to both the good and the bad in your life. When things look dire, just give it some time and it will likely improve. When things are grand, reflect on that joy, enjoy it, and realize that the good times will also likely pass.

Words Hurt, Words Heal

Gossip is something that cannot be repaired. The words you use can heal or hurt. Choose them wisely. Like a leaf in the wind, a mean comment gets dispersed and is impossible to retrieve. Why put that negative energy out there?

Have Faith in God, Embrace Love

We are living in very secular times. Not believing in a greater good – God – means life has less meaning. Where do our values come from if not from God? Where does morality come from if not a higher power? Without God, life has less meaning and anything and any behavior can be justified. And, without love in your life, there is little joy. Embrace God, find love.

Gratitude IS the Key to Happiness

Dennis Prager wrote a wonderful book on happiness and his incredibly valuable lesson within it is that the key to happiness IS gratitude. Without gratitude there is little chance for happiness. Every morning when you arise, thank God for the blessing of a new day. Every day you feel well, thank God that you are healthy. Every meal you enjoy, appreciate.

Boys, you see me prance around the house singing Elvis songs and other nonsense. Laugh and enjoy life but also remember these reflections, because the real joy in life is not the fun you have, but the good will you create and the positive impact you will have on the world. I love you.


  • David Weber

    good tips and legacies

  • Ava Parnass

    is beautiful Bruce, I love it! All so true and exactly what every
    parent would hope to teach.. I especially love Tikkun Olam – Repair the
    World .The only thing I would add of course(lol) is to teach my kids to
    understand their feelings hiding under their behavior. (Emotional
    Intelligence).This will increase self esteem, they will be more
    resilient and in long run more empathetic and kinder to others feelings.
    Be kind to kids feelings and they will be kind to others:)

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      TYVM, Ava…emotional intelligence – ESPECIALLY important for us boys!

  • http://twitter.com/CrossBetsy Betsy Cross

    I agree with Ava…beautiful! Although our children will remember the essence of who we are, words left as counsel and inspiration are priceless. It would behoove us all to start journals for our children with random snippets of wisdom in them as we get them. It has been so many years since I updated the ones that I’d started for 3 of my children, never mind the other six who don’t have one from me, yet! 
    Thank you for the reminder!

    P.S. I just started telling my boys about opening doors for women. They laughed about it. But it’s never too late. Right? They do it haphazardly. I want it to be a “have-to-do”!!

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      It’s never too late…you are right Betsy. The tools we have today make is so much easier to leave behind our VALUES for our kids whether in written form or some kind of video! It’s a legacy so much greater than money and “things!”

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