Dear Mark (age 11),
Live your life like you will. It is what makes you what you are and, according to your family, you are doing a good job. It is their opinion that counts
Measure your success by your own criteria and don’t get caught up in what the rest of the world thinks you should do or be. Try to find your own balance between focusing on yourself and helping others. You are no good to others if you haven’t taken good care of yourself.
Your education is key, but it is not what you learn; rather, learn how to learn about yourself and the world around you. Be skeptical, not cynical, and embrace critical thinking early. Science will help explain much more about the world than adhering to dogmas and prejudices of childhood. Challenge your thinking habits.
Don’t be afraid to ask Melinda to the dance.
Live the life you imagine. Make sure to say “thank you” to those who help you make this possible. Choose to do the right thing, not the easy thing. When you are working for dad on top of the hot industrial roofs in Miami during the summer, you are going to learn some great lessons. These will also help you finish your first Ironman in Hawaii. Dad will see both.
You will fail your first organic chemistry test, no matter how hard you study. This will really piss you off and you will come back on the second one. Welcome to perseverance. This will help you become Dr. Hecox one day. Mom really liked that graduation.
Don’t eat the tequila worm, it doesn’t have the effect they said it would and it was gross. You will wear your heart on your sleeve, and it will be painful. Melissa was a great girlfriend, but marrying your wife was the most important decision you will make. She makes you.
Follow your wanderlust and travel the world – it is in your Norwegian blood. It will open your worldview and be fun. When in Moscow, focus on the caviar, lighten up on the vodka and yes, Max is former KGB.
One of the best decisions you will be faced with is to leave a high-paying job for your love of teaching and for your daughter. It is easy. Spending time with her is what makes you happy. OK, so does going for a run on a beautiful fall day, but that is different. Appreciate learning tae kwon do and snowboarding with her.
Your time is limited; buy a nice watch to remind you not to waste it or let others waste it for you.
Live in the moment. Take time to plan when appropriate. Volunteer and support efforts for human rights. Your dad was a Marine; show gratitude for those who have sacrificed for our freedom.
Ask your dad and mom to share their life stories before they die.
When you win your first golf tournament, give your trophy to your coach, Bill. Thank Mrs. Congelo, in seventh grade, for moving you out of your comfort zone to grow, before she dies. Start writing poetry earlier in life; you enjoy it. Learn
When running the marathon during the Hawaiian Ironman, do not eat the bagel;
it tastes worse coming up.
Stay in touch with your authentic childhood friends, like Maryanne and John. Work hard, but smart; have fun, but be careful; stay fit and help others; leave the world a better place than you found it.
Lots of love,
Dr. Mark Hecox, age 44
Associate professor of sport management
Contact Mark Hecox at email@example.com