My twins turned 18 this past week and will be headed to college in a little more than a month. There are so many things I’ve tried to teach them, going so far as to write a book of advice for them. (Shameless promotion: visit www.davidmoon.com.) As my family celebrated both Father’s Day and their birthday in the same week, I realized that I’ve learned so much more from them than they likely have from me. Most of these lessons have both a business and a broader life application.
I’ve learned the importance of believing something. That is, having some guiding philosophy that instructs us when facts don’t offer an obvious course of action.
It really is better to acknowledge the truth as soon as possible, rather than lie about it, either to your parents or yourself. Like a good investment, problems compound the longer they are held.
Like continuing to hold an investment you should have never purchased, the ultimate punishment for living a lie is having to live the lie.
Surround yourself with great influences. Hanging around people who passionately share your guiding philosophy will move you in the direction of your goals. The opposite is also true. If you hang around a skunk, eventually it will begin to smell normal.
A lot of success in life depends on the size of the holes in which we all invariably find ourselves. If your mistakes are small, your recovery is much easier.
It is usually better to make a mistake of commission rather than omission. Even though he didn’t care for it, my son is glad he tried football for a season. And my daughter wishes she had.
Read. There is little we can do about our intelligence, but there is little-to-no limit on our ability to improve the quality of our decisions by improving our knowledge.
Draw your own conclusions; make your opinion your own. When you simply copy someone else, you have given up control of the only thing over which you can exercise complete control: your thoughts.
Don’t worry about missing the perfect boy/girlfriend or stock. Things aren’t always what they appear to be. And the world is filled with opportunity.
There is nothing wrong with being different, as long as your reasoning is consistent with both the facts and your core beliefs. Simply being either contrary or homogenous is not, by itself, a virtue.
My kids constantly reminded me of the importance of knowing your strengths and weaknesses. Part of success is simply avoiding the avoidable mistakes. My kids also taught me that it is useless to be rational with someone who is emotional. It can’t be done, and it just irritates the pig.
David Moon is president of Moon Capital Management. A version of this piece originally appeared in the USA TODAY NETWORK.