A Letter to my Grandchildren–Half 1

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by Lou Darnell

Editor’s Be aware: This letter (the primary of a two half sequence) was written by my buddy, Lou Darnell. He based an IT firm known as Comtel in Honolulu and later joined ranks with Vistage, a worldwide govt teaching firm. Tall, with an understated however commanding presence, Lou has been a fixture in our neighborhood for a few years.


I met him at a neighborhood enterprise occasion a couple of many years in the past and spoke to him just lately after an extended hiatus. Unbeknownst to me, he was in hospice care. Nonetheless sharp and articulate as ever, we spoke at size. He talked about that he had written a letter to his grandchildren in an effort to go on the legacy of his life classes. I used to be moved by this letter and thought it deserved a bigger viewers. I labored with him to switch the piece.

In his personal phrases, Lou’s introduction goes like this:

I used to be born in Italy throughout WWII, out of wedlock, and adopted by an American soldier, most of my childhood was touring with him to locations like Berlin, Okinawa and California. I used to be drafted within the U.S. Military throughout Vietnam Warfare. I served within the army for over 27 years, posted in Germany, Japan, Korea and at the least eight states.

I raised three youngsters and after 53 years am nonetheless fortunately married to their mom.

My expertise embody understanding folks and gaining their belief; planning at operational and strategic ranges; managing complexity and uncertainty and training via life’s challenges. My passions embody reaching targets; being a very good husband and father; serving to others be who they need to be and sustaining sturdy psychological and bodily health. I’m an illuminator for folks to see with renewed power and willpower.

The aim of my letter is to explain ideas which have served me nicely in reaching a lifetime of which means.  You can be challenged many instances by occasions you possibly can’t foresee or think about.  When these powerful occasions occur, completely perceive the details; develop different programs of motion and devise a plan most constant together with your values and beliefs.  Hold your targets and priorities in thoughts and don’t hand over. You could typically not be assured however imagine in your self. Realizing your self and your scenario and obtainable assets is vital.

The Letter

(From left) Linda Giles, Matthew Darnell, Louis Jr, Dolei (Peni) Darnell

Upon Excessive Faculty Commencement

Highschool commencement is a vital milestone in your life’s journey.  Making use of the next concepts will lead to a lifetime of which means—if you happen to’re fortunate.

Why luck? You need to acknowledge the alternatives when and if they arrive your approach. Then you should seize them.

Up to now, a lot of your selections have been guided by your dad and mom for good causes.  Quickly, your freedom to decide on will check your values, objective and self-discipline. No matter temptations, dwelling a life that honors your objective and values will allow success, fulfilment and a constructive self-image.

Solely you already know you probably have any self-doubt masked by your assured and constructive presence.  I clearly keep in mind my unfounded confidence at your age.  I used to be completely satisfied, sturdy, optimistic, and excited in regards to the future.  I had little appreciation of the challenges I’d face over the following 40 years.

After my highschool commencement, I keep in mind an outdated household buddy giving me some unsolicited recommendation.  I acted however didn’t really feel I wanted his outdated recommendation.  I used to be sturdy, completely satisfied and will do something.  I simply wished to fly from the nest with no explicit goal in thoughts. My guess is you’re in the same mind set.

I keep in mind!  I additionally need you to get pleasure from the essential issues I’ve realized in my life.  My hope is you keep away from my errors and benefit from my beliefs and strategies.  I do know a lot of what I write gained’t resonate as a result of expertise is usually a precursor for understanding new methods of pondering.

After leaving school and becoming a member of the Military, I rapidly realized my athletic and social expertise didn’t make up for my scarcity {of professional} expertise.  Abilities like writing, talking and management.  I studied my opponents who had been outperforming me. I noticed that they had the benefit of sturdy households who mentored and supported them, and that that they had efficiently accomplished school. 

Their success didn’t come as a result of they had been athletic, fashionable or good.  These traits are sturdy belongings, however success doesn’t essentially accompany them.  Your success will all the time be based mostly on how nicely you carry out on the job compared to your friends.  Your job efficiency shall be dependent in your perspective, data, expertise when underneath stress.  Getting good school grades shall be a very good predictor of your readiness to compete efficiently within the office.

Captain Darnell in Vietnam, 1968

Taking the Subsequent Steps

Within the aggressive race for skilled success, I’ve seen three forms of “pre-race” conditions. Which do you need to undertake?

  1. Profitable school graduates are often the quick starters.  In school, they managed their time; earned excessive grades via examine and developed their communication expertise.

These with sturdy potential however underperformed of their class work.  These folks often practiced the identical habits on the job and went on to have common careers.  I fell into this class however was fortunate to have an ideal mentor who lit a hearth in me.  With out his encouragement and perception in me, I might have simply ended up with a blue-collar profession.

What race place do you need to be in upon commencement from school?  It is a choice solely you can also make, and you need to make it now as a result of, as you already know, it’s laborious to catch up.

Journey into Self

I’ve offered the next ideas and expertise however because the saying goes, “discuss is reasonable”. These have to be understood and utilized to have any impression. Please learn them fastidiously.  You’ve got outlined your objective, which is able to show to be a priceless decision-making information however keep in mind, objective can change with time. Redefining objective and gaining extra data and honing expertise shall be a lifelong pursuit.  The journey into self is the longest of all.

Growing your self in every space listed under will present a basis for dwelling a satisfying life stuffed with which means. 

  1. Character – traits, qualities, values you honor by your habits and actions.
  2. Bodily well being – eat wholesome and keep sturdy.
  3. Cognitive – aware mental actions corresponding to pondering, reasoning, and remembering.
  4. Information – what’s realized and understood.
  5. Abilities – the how, why and when to use data.
  6. Intrapersonal – you discuss to your self greater than anybody else. What do your “voices” inform you?
  7. Interpersonal – your high quality of life is basically depending on the standard of your private relationships. Management is a significant side of this area.
  8. Mindset – psychological perspective or inclination. For instance, be taught and follow Emotional and Constructive Intelligence ideas.
  9. Management – That is an artwork with an infinite set of variables that requires understanding folks nicely sufficient to be persuasive.
  10. Hear to grasp, to not simply reply.
One in every of Lou’s duties in Vietnam was to work in Civil Affairs–dealing immediately with the Vietnamese civilians. It was a place he very a lot loved and felt was an essential contribution. He’s pictured right here with a priest.

You’ve got appreciable affect over all of the above. 

Proceed creating your character, cognitive skills and your mindset and mastering your self-limiting beliefs.  New expertise and attitudes all the time really feel awkward and synthetic.  Don’t let these emotions cease you.  If you’re comfy, you aren’t rising. 

Considering Independently

Your transition to varsity jogs my memory of my transitions from elementary faculty to varsity.

a. In my first days of faculty, I used to be excited however frightened about whether or not the others would settle for me since I used to be an immigrant. That insecurity and wish for acceptance adopted me for many of my life. I used to be decided to be taught English, so I taught myself easy methods to learn with comedian books. How I did it, I do not know, however the level right here is if you’d like one thing, do your finest to get it regardless of obstacles. Few issues in your life shall be unattainable though they might seem so. Know what you need and take step one and the following, and the following….

b. In my first day of seventh grade, I saved ready for recess and was shocked after I realized we didn’t do recess anymore. I needed to settle for realities and modify my expectations.

c. Excessive Faculty required adjustments like strolling throughout campus to get to my subsequent class. I used to be launched to difficult staff sports activities requiring energy, self-discipline, and teamwork. I turned a part of a staff and never simply a person.

d. In school, youngsters had been as good or in lots of instances, smarter than me. For the primary time, I doubted my capability to compete. what it took academically. I questioned if I used to be ok. Additionally, for the primary time, I turned solely liable for studying. It was not the instructor’s job to emphasise what they wished me to be taught. I needed to discover the self-discipline to review and be taught. With that accountability got here the liberty to contemplate and consider new concepts. Sadly, the liberty to handle my time failed me as I struggled to take care of minimal educational necessities.

e. After leaving WSU and getting married, I used to be drafted into the Military because of the Vietnam Warfare. After a few years, I used to be fortunate my superiors noticed potential in me and had a minimal of two years of school credit. After making use of, the Military paid for me to return to varsity to earn a bachelor’s and grasp’s diploma. With out a lot effort, I achieved a 3.95 GPA and questioned why school was so laborious the primary time. I wasn’t smarter however I used to be wiser.

f. The distinction was I knew why school was essential and I used to be motivated to excel. I paid consideration in lectures; established relationships with professors and instructing assistants; realized the professor’s repute earlier than registering for a course and found out what a professor wished me to jot down on an examination.

g. Along with studying concept and ideas in school, good grades point out your capability to learn to benefit from the “system.” I don’t imply to cheat however to grasp what you might want to do for good grades after which to execute. Your future superiors will look for a similar expertise and dedication in your work.

Loui was born in Italy, March 5, 1944

Guidelines for Faculty

  1. Your school success shall be largely dependent in your capability to prioritize and steadiness your time.  At all times keep in mind the extra you display having been a very good scholar, the extra submit school choices shall be supplied.     
  2. Increase your world of data and beliefs; always remember what your dad and mom and Boy Scouts have instilled in you; have enjoyable and keep bodily match.  Keep in mind there’s a “ditch on either side of the highway.”  You’ll be able to go too far in both route.  Decide the optimum steadiness of examine and enjoyable.
  3. Designate recurring instances for examine.
  4. Discover locations the place you possibly can consider studying assignments with out distractions.
  5. Getting good grades is a measure of your self-discipline, aptitude and skill to be taught professors’ instructing aims. 
  6. Train your capability to assume critically and articulate your ideas throughout philosophical “discuss story” classes.
  7. Eat a nutritious diet, train, and get sufficient sleep.
  8. Handle your course choices to fulfill diploma necessities inside 4 years. Don’t rely completely in your counselor’s steering.  Ensure you perceive commencement necessities.  Even when a category is full, see the professor and ask for an exception to confess you to the course.  Know what you need/want and use your pondering and communication expertise to make issues occur!
  9. Hearken to Perceive and To not Reply.
  10. Make the most of professors’ and instructing assistants’ workplace hours. See them early in a course and ask what their instructing aims are and what they want you to get out of their course.  Earlier than going, learn the course syllabus and related handout materials to be finest ready for the dialogue.  Few college students will go to their professors however don’t observe their lead.  In your first job, do you need to be seen as common or do you need to stand out from the gang?  Professors are there for you and they’ll love having an scholar.  Don’t maintain again.  It is a good follow for later in life as nicely.
  11. Have enjoyable however have braveness to not observe the “herd” when you already know doing so can be mistaken.
  12. Be assertive in looking for what you need and wish in school and life. Be aware the distinction between being assertive and aggressive. I need to encourage you to be assertive. Being assertive may be outlined as working to realize one thing in all events’ finest curiosity. You want to know what you need and know easy methods to ask for it firmly and politely. Being aggressive, then again, can result in a “winner and loser” state of affairs. Consider somebody being aggressive once they pursue one thing solely of their finest curiosity.

a. You’ve got a delicate and caring nature which makes it laborious to threat offending somebody. Throughout your school and work years, nobody goes to strategy you to ask what you need. You’ll proceed competing together with your fellow college students and friends for the remainder of your life. For instance, you possibly can have been extra assertive in getting your highschool to validate to Microsoft that you just had been a scholar or getting a instructor to jot down an Eagle Scout advice.

b. Your targets for going to varsity just isn’t solely to please these you like. You can be constructing the second main, academic basis for the remainder of your life.

c. Abilities that may set you aside when making use of for a job after commencement embody:
i. Communication in all varieties – writing, talking and listening.
ii. Analytic – understanding the problem or downside
iii. Planning and scheduling
iv. Interpersonal expertise that embody management

Keep tuned for Half 2 of this sequence