How to Deliver Bad News – The Post I Wish I Had Read a Year Ago

If you have never had to deliver bad news, you will.  There are good ways and bad ways to deliver this news.  I have proven over time that I am good at the bad ways.  More than anything, I’m writing this post to myself.

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

I fired my first team member.  I asked a friend if he was having an affair.  I told a friend that a decision didn’t go his way.  All of this in the last 18 months.  My default style – and I blame the Marine Corps for this – is very direct.  It is blunt.  I like to tell them the headline right up front.  Then I explain.

This does not tend to go well.  They hear the bad news, and then don’t hear anything else I say.  Looking back, I’m better at blind-siding people than giving them the best opportunity to receive the news well and with grace.

In the most recent case, my pastor was with me.  His comment to me when we were done – “You weren’t awesome.”  Frankly, I want to be awesome at this.  I want the words gentle, sensitive, and empathetic to apply as much as firm, decisive, and fair.  So that got me hunting.  I have researched some best practices and distilled them for you in the list that follows.

9 Next Practices in Delivering Bad News

  • In person – This should be a no-brainer, but if you are conflict-averse, it will be very difficult.  Delivering bad news is very emotional and your non-verbal communication has a huge impact.  Not over the phone.  Definitely not by email.  Do it in person.
  • ASAP – Bad news is not like wine.  It does not get better with age.  We too often stall, delay, or hesitate because it is hard.  Deliver bad news as soon as appropriate.
  • Sandwich – You may have heard of the sandwich method.  I’ve heard this taught numerous different times.  I’ve even coached my wife on how to use it.  But I have failed to use it.  The sandwich method is Positive – Negative – Positive.  In other words, you sandwich the bad news between positive statements or good news.  This is what I should have done in the case where my pastor remarked “not awesome.”
  • Decisive – Being decisive is hugely important when delivering bad news.  The one receiving the news needs to know that the decision has been made – period.  That may sound harsh, but it is not.  The alternative is to allow for wiggle room.  Wiggle room gives false hope, and that is truly harsh.  When it is time to deliver the news, look the person in the eye and give a straight-forward and decisive delivery.
  • Empathy – Empathy is the ability to put yourself in the other person’s shoes and feel what they are feeling.  I almost completely lack this skill.  Would that CVS had a pill for this.  I would buy it.  This was the advice given me by one of my confidants.  Try to anticipate how the other person will feel.
  • Surprise – Rather, don’t surprise.  I do this to people too often.  I don’t want them to know ahead of time that there could be bad news, so I surprise them.  This is mean.  Give people a head’s up about what’s coming.  It allows them to prepare themselves emotionally.  It can take shock out of their reaction.  Warning them is compassionate.
  • Truthful and Concrete – This is the part that I’m good at.  Don’t beat around the bush.  Tell them why.  Give them the truth.  But give it to them with as much love as possible.  I’ve heard the quote:  “Truth without Love is brutality.  Love without Truth is sentimentality.”  I think it applies here.  Speak the truth in love.
  • Silver Lining – I hesitated putting this one on the list because it could sound like spin.  However, there is almost always a silver lining.  I think it can be positive to point it out.  If not for them to consider when their emotions come back down to earth.
  • Dignity and Respect – Should you do the first 8 on the list, the result should be that the person hearing the bad news will feel treated with dignity and respect.  That is your goal.  A goal that I have repeatedly failed at.

Question: What have you found to be the best way to deliver bad news? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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How to Teach Your Kids the Power of Adding Value

I live on a golf course.  If you push it right off the 7th tee, I get to keep your golf ball.  My family spends a good amount of time playing in the back yard.  I’m very thankful that none of us have been hit yet.

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

Earlier in the summer, I was in the back yard playing pitch and catch with my boys.  Suddenly, a shiny Titleist Pro V1 came flying into the yard.  My 7 year-old ran to grab it.  Then he took it up to the course and sold it back to the owner.  He provided a small service to this man and added value to his life.  He made $2.  I was one proud dad.  My wife was mortified.

Now imagine a 7 year-old toe-head with a huge smile doing a victory dance.  It was awesome.

That episode got me thinking about how my dad taught me how to work when I was a kid.  I mowed his empty lots.  I dug ditches.  I worked at his carwash.  He gave me jobs instead of money, and I am grateful for that.

I’m sure I will do the same with my boys.  However, I want to teach them how to create tremendous value and be paid for it.  I want them to catch the entrepreneur bug at an early age.  If they can learn self-discipline as well, they should never lack.  Or at least they won’t be a burden to the taxpayer.

So here is what we did to start their first business.


We went to my neighbor who has lived on this street for years.  He has thousands of golf balls that he’s collected over the years.  I took my 7 year old with me and we offered to buy some of his golf balls in bulk.  I was going to play the role of the bank and finance their startup.  They could pay me back from their cashflow.

Somewhat unfortunately, my neighbor is so fond of my son, he just gave him about 150 golf balls.  I really wanted them to learn about cost of goods sold, but my neighbor would not take our money.


These are used golf balls.  Many are in great shape.  Many had head-butted cart paths and trees.  Many were just dirty.  So we grabbed a bucket, dumped all the balls in there, and filled it up with water.  Even my 4 year-old baby girl got in on the action to play with the water hose.

We then cleaned and dried them off.  I had the opportunity to discuss quality control with them and the importance of creating an excellent product.


If you are a golfer, you know there is a big difference between some balls and others.  We then sorted all the balls into three groups.  Group A was the Pro V1 and its equal.  Group B was filled with the NXT type.  Group C were the ones you would hit into a corn field and not go looking for them.


When we had our groups sorted, we packed our product.  Each bag contained 5 golf balls – 0ne from Group A and two from both B and C.

Our thinking was if the A ball could be around $5 out of the box, then we would sell the group of 5 for $5.

Sales Pitch

I then taught my boys the sales pitch.  When a golfer tees off and lands close to our yard, the run and grab a bag of their product.  They then locate the golfers ball for them.  “Sir, we have the best deal in town!  Buy a Pro V-1 for $5 and get four balls for free!”  It is a sight to see.

I want my boys to learn how to create value for others and generate income, and they are getting a taste.  It was a joy to see the light in their eyes when they made their first sale.  I love it when we are throwing in the back yard, and they drop their gloves and run to get their “inventory” to sell to a customer.  I hope that it will start a drive in their bellies.

So here’s to Will and Ben – business owners!

Question: How did you learn to sell? What other ways can you think of to equip the next generation? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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Today is my firstborn’s birthday!  I don’t feel old enough to have an 11 year old, but the Lord has used him every day of his life to drive me to be a better man.  Love you, bub!

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Hug a Neck this Memorial Day

I come from a legacy of men who have served.  I don’t take that lightly this Memorial Day.  My grandfathers were both in World War II.  My father was in the Army towards the end of the Vietnam Conflict.  One of my brother’s is currently a Marine Corps pilot of a CH-53 deployed in Afghanistan.  His wife, along with the rest of us, eagerly await his return.

My dad and my granddad pinning my brother during his commissioning.

My dad and my granddad pinning my brother during his commissioning.

I want to share a little about my grandfathers.

My dad’s dad was a metallurgical engineer and served in the Army.  During the war, he got to do two really incredible things, in my humble opinion.  The first was to travel to Russia to study their tanks.  The second was to be one of the first men to work in the Pentagon – when it was just a line!  Only the first wing had been built at that point.  He retired a Lt. Col.

My granddad with my son and my siblings.

My granddad with my son and my siblings.

My mom’s dad was a Morse Code operator for the Army.  When I was in high school, his unit’s exploits were declassified.  What he did was amazing.  His unit was responsible for diverting Nazi attention from the D-Day invasion.

They used cardboard tanks and mis-information to cause Germany to believe the invasion would be at another location.  I remember my granddad, in one of the few times he shared with me about the war, telling me how his unit would sew different patches on their uniforms every night.  The hope was that Nazi Germany would believe they were a force much bigger than they were.

Their efforts worked.  As D-Day dawned, a significant portion of the German force was diverted away from Normandy.  My granddad, however, was transferred at the last-minute to Omaha Beach.  He was one of the heroes that broke the German hold that day and turned the tide of the war.

More recently, a fellow Kentucky Marine distinguished himself in Afghanistan and won the Congressional Medal of Honor.  His acts of bravery have characterized our fighting men and women for generations.  Here is the Medal of Honor citation of Sergeant Dakota Meyer.

Citation: Corporal Meyer maintained security at a patrol rally point while other members of his team moved on foot with two platoons of Afghan National Army and Border Police into the village of Ganjgal for a pre-dawn meeting with village elders. Moving into the village, the patrol was ambushed by more than 50 enemy fighters firing rocket-propelled grenades, mortars, and machine guns from houses and fortified positions on the slopes above. Hearing over the radio that four U.S. team members were cut off, Corporal Meyer seized the initiative. With a fellow Marine driving, Corporal Meyer took the exposed gunner’s position in a gun-truck as they drove down the steeply terraced terrain in a daring attempt to disrupt the enemy attack and locate the trapped U.S. team. Disregarding intense enemy fire now concentrated on their lone vehicle, Corporal Meyer killed a number of enemy fighters with the mounted machine guns and his rifle, some at near point-blank range, as he and his driver made three solo trips into the ambush area. During the first two trips, he and his driver evacuated two dozen Afghan soldiers, many of whom were wounded. When one machine gun became inoperable, he directed a return to the rally point to switch to another gun-truck for a third trip into the ambush area where his accurate fire directly supported the remaining U.S. personnel and Afghan soldiers fighting their way out of the ambush. Despite a shrapnel wound to his arm, Corporal Meyer made two more trips into the ambush area in a third gun-truck accompanied by four other Afghan vehicles to recover more wounded Afghan soldiers and search for the missing U.S. team members. Still under heavy enemy fire, he dismounted the vehicle on the fifth trip and moved on foot to locate and recover the bodies of his team members. Corporal Meyer’s daring initiative and bold fighting spirit throughout the 6-hour battle significantly disrupted the enemy’s attack and inspired the members of the combined force to fight on. His unwavering courage and steadfast devotion to his U.S. and Afghan comrades in the face of almost certain death reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.

Fortunately, my grandfathers and Sergeant Meyer lived.  Many others throughout the years have not.  These fearless men and women laid down their lives for our way of life.  Their sacrifices allow me to live a life of safety and freedom.  They allow me to worship without fear.  They allow me to work hard and provide for my family.  They allow me to spend a Sunday afternoon, as I did yesterday, playing basketball with my boys in the driveway.

My brother and I shaking the hand of my grandfather.

My brother and I shaking the hand of my grandfather.

I am indebted to all those who have served, and so are you.  So on this memorial day, spend some time counting your blessings.  Then go find someone who has or is serving and hug their neck.  We act like the honor of serving is thanks enough, but we really appreciate it.

I also challenge you to share in the comments section below who you are remembering this day.  Let’s not take for granted all that was given for us to live the lives we now enjoy.

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Book of the Month: Decisive – How to Make Better Choices



Every day is filled with choices.  Many are small and inconsequential.  Some are life changing.  This month’s book suggestion was written to improve our decision-making ability.

Decisive by Chip and Dan Heath

Decisive by Chip and Dan Heath

As I was reading this book, I thought back on some of the key decisions in my life.  At age 10, I chose to place my faith in Jesus to save me.  At age 18, I asked the most beautiful angel-voiced blonde on our first date.  Later that year, I decided to attend Murray State University (go Racers!).  Four years later, I decided to enlist in the Marine Corps.  One year later, I proposed to that beauty I mentioned before.

All of these decisions worked out for me.  So many others did not.  I am not going to share that list with you.

So whether you are deciding where to eat tonight, or when and if to propose to your girl (congrats little bro!), you go through the following steps.

  1. You have a choice.
  2. You consider your options.
  3. You make your choice.
  4. You live with/suffer the consequences.

The Heath brothers do a masterful job at describing what they call the four villains to decision-making.  They coincide with the four steps above.

  1. Narrow framing – you don’t consider near enough options – often stopping as soon as you have two.
  2. Confirmation bias – you gather self-serving information to support your natural bias.
  3. Short-term emotion – you allow the heat of the moment to overly influence the decision you make.
  4. Overconfidence – your optimism for the future allows you to be caught off-guard when things go south.

To counter these “villains,” the Heath brothers put forth a very clever and easy to remember acronym – W.R.A.P.

  • W – Widen your options.  Refuse to limit yourself to a “whether or not” choice.
  • R – Reality test your assumptions.  Someone somewhere has faced your situation.  Find them.  See what they did.
  • A – Attain distance.  Sleep on it.  Clarity is often found on the other side of a pillow.  Don’t let yourself make a decision when you are emotionally charged.  If you are older than 12, you can think of at least 3 times immediately when you did not head this advice.
  • P – Prepare to be wrong.  This is just good business.  If you are a golf fan, notice how the elite golfer stays away from the big trouble spots.  They have good misses that do not cripple them.  Force yourself to prepare for the worst-case scenario.

The Heath brothers spend the rest of the book sharing story after story demonstrating the power of this process.  In fact, their premise for the book is that it is the process of making a decision that has the most impact on the quality of the decision.

This book is incredibly clever and entertaining.  It had me page-turning.  I was so intrigued that I’ve shared this process of decision-making with my coaching clients, my family, and many of my friends.  I believe it is powerful.  I believe that this book can have a powerful impact on your future.  Do yourself a favor and decide to read this book.

Question:  What one decision of the past year do you regret not applying this process to?  Your comments are welcome below!

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The Secret to Great Communication Every Time

How many times have you communicated a message to someone and followed up with “Do you understand?”  In response you get a head nod and an “Uh huh.”

USMC Drill Instructor barking orders

USMC Drill Instructor barking orders

When I was in boot camp, drill instructors barked orders at us all the time.  When they would give instructions, they would follow-up with this question – “Do you understand that?”  When said correctly, it sounds just like, “Undastanddat!?”  Now jack up the volume and say it again.

Our response was always the same, “Sir, yes sir!” Regardless of how loud I screamed, I often did not understand.  Bad things tended to happen at that point.

I remember the first time we were taught how to drill as a platoon.  Not pretty!  Drilling at its finest is choreography.  It is also beautiful when it is down correctly.  Check out this video of the Marine Corps Silent Drill Team.  This is incredible.

My first day learning drill was the opposite of what you just saw.  I distinctly recall that day.  During a certain command, the entire platoon took a 45 degree turn to the right.  Barron here took a 90 degree turn.  I should have been wearing a sign that read “Please make me do push-ups until I create a pool of sweat from my brow.”  Not pretty.

The Drill Instructor communicated the instructions correctly.  Yet I didn’t get it.  What happened?  Where was the breakdown?

Leaders make this mistake all the time.  They assume that because they have clarity in their minds, you should get it.  Right?  Not so fast.  Let’s look at the communication process.

Communication Process

  1. Sender – The sender of the message has a thought.
  2. Encoding – This step involves the sender choosing words to communicate the thought.
  3. Message – Here, the sender chooses which medium to send the message.  It could be spoken, written, communicated through sign language, or even nonverbals.
  4. Decoding – Now the receiver of the message receives the message and interprets the meaning.
  5. Receiver – The receiver of the message now understands the original thought in the mind of the sender, right??

The break down occurs because words have meanings that could be different depending on where you are from.  All the experiences of your past impact how you interpret the words you hear.  Think of the word ‘father.’  Some of you are replaying great childhood memories.  Some of you are reliving painful memories.  To some of you, the word father means hero.  To others it means absent.  Your life experience gives meaning to words.

Because of this, every great leader and communicator adds a step to the communication process.  That step is feedback.  I was in a great workshop last week in Orange County, CA put on by MAP Consulting.  I loved how they framed this concept.  They call this the playback.  Once you communicate the message, have the receiver play the message back for you.

Here is the phrase you want to learn.  “So that I know I was clear, please play back for me…”  Here are _ reasons why this phrase is so important.

5 Reasons to Playback

  1. Ownership – As the sender of the message, you are taking responsibility that it was understood.  You are making sure that you were clear, not that the sender comprehended correctly.  This is a big distinction.
  2. Feedback – Without this step, you have no way to know that your words were interpreted correctly.
  3. Adjustment – Once you hear your message played back, you have the opportunity to adjust your message.  You may not need to, but you can add clarity before time is wasted going down the wrong path.  Have you ever misunderstood a message and cost your company thousands of dollars?  Millions?
  4. Accountability – Once clarified, there are no excuses.  The message was understood.  The entire team is on the same page moving towards the same goal.  And everyone knows it.
  5. Repeatability – This process is repeatable in at least two ways.  The first is playback can be used in every communication situation.  The second, though,It is also repeatable in that it allows you to repeat the playback step multiple times until the message is clearly understood.

Question:  How can you improve your leadership and communication by adding this playback step?  You can leave a comment below.

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[Video] Why Do We Fall?

This week I had the privilege of traveling to Salisbury, MD to visit SVN Miller Commercial.  This group is the Sperry Van Ness 2012 Firm of the Year.  They are a study in how to build a team with incredible culture.  They like each other.  They have tradition.  They have camaraderie.  They absolutely dominate their market.

I had the pleasure of training their entire company primarily on prospecting.  At the end of our afternoon together, Brent Miller played this video.  I was so moved that I wanted to share it with you.

Enjoy!  And attack next week as if you cannot be stopped!  What are you going to accomplish this week?

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February’s Top Posts

In case you missed them, here are the top posts from February on the topics of Next Practices in Life, Business, and Commercial Real Estate.

I do want to invite you to subscribe to this blog just to the right of what you are reading now.  This will make it so easy for you to get my new posts without having to remember to check my site.  And I will never violate your privacy!


February’s Top Posts:

iStock_000021836294SmallWhat are You Worth? – I have a mentor and client who is incredibly successful.  He owns over a dozen businesses. He employs hundreds of people.  He loves Jesus and is one of the most generous men I’ve ever met.  He is an amazing man.  He is someone who we should all want to be like.  A couple of years ago, I was meeting with this man.  I asked him what the inflection point was in his career.  He surprised me with his answer. He told me about a conversation that he had with his mentor.  At that time, my mentor had hit his limit.  He was experiencing what John Maxwell calls the Law of the Lid (read the book – affiliate link).  Read more…


Me and the Beast

Me and the Beast

A Letter to My Kids – So, here is a not so short letter to my children.  I share this because I believe intentionally communicating with our children what they should know is a great idea.  Tomorrow is the first day of the rest of my life, but it could also be my last.  I want to intentionally take steps to share certain things with my children that could make a huge difference in their lives.  I share this to encourage you to do the same.  Read more…

interviewCRE All-Stars:  An Interview with Chad Grout, CCIM – I tried something new!  Thanks to my new friend Dan Hayes, I can now record a Skype call (if you want to know how, just leave a comment below, and I will hook you up).  This is the first in a series of interviews of CRE All-Stars.  I will be interviewing CRE All-Stars throughout the United States and bringing you their best practices.  So…meet Chad Grout!  I asked the following four questions to Chad.  Read more…

  1. How did you get into CRE?
  2. How did you decide on your specialty?
  3. How have you gone about establishing your presence and becoming the top-of-mind broker in your specialty?
  4. Explain what having a coach for your business has allowed you to accomplish?

Thank you so much for reading.  I’m excited about the topics for March’s posts.  If you have any ideas on what I should write about, please leave your suggestions in the comments below.



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8 Great Ideas to Be a Better Parent – Pt. 2

A month ago, I wrote a post on 8 Great Ideas to Be a Better Parent – Part 1.  This is the second half of that post.

I was putting the boys to bed last night, and they asked me to tell them a story.  There is just something about stories.  They suck you in.  A good story-teller can take you into their world.  They can transport you into another place.

My beautiful wife and 2 youngest

My beautiful wife and 2 youngest

I shared with my boys a story from boot camp.  I had about a dozen guys from Puerto Rico in my platoon.  While we were at the tropical paradise of Parris Island, a hurricane hit Puerto Rico.  The guys in my platoon were concerned – as you would imagine.  However, they made a mistake.  They went to a Puerto Rican Senior Drill Instructor for information – from another platoon.  Going outside our platoon brought serious consequences.

The next afternoon, my platoon was practicing drill on the parade deck with that other platoon.  Before I know it, the Puerto Rican guys in my platoon – and me! – are kicked out of my platoon and sent to the other platoon.  Imagine what this looked like.  A dozen Puerto Ricans and a white boy from Kentucky walk across a large parade deck with all of our gear and our rifles.  When we get there, that Senior Drill Instructor looks at us and sends us back.  When we get back to our platoon, we are told to go back to other platoon.  For an hour, we bounce back and forth like a dozen ping-pong balls.

So why was I included with my Puerto Rican brothers?  I have no clue.  My boys were so enthralled about the past of their daddy, they have been asking me all day what I did.  They were enthralled by power of a story.

The previous post shared the first four ideas:  love your spouse, become a student of your children, pursue the hearts of your kids, and develop your family culture.  Here are the second four ideas for being a better parent.

Share Stories

In conjunction with developing your family culture, stories are a great way to communicate and strengthen the values of your family.  Share with your children stories of your past when you endured.  Tell a story about how you paid a price for doing the right thing – and why it was worth it.  Stories knit together hearts.  Stories demonstrate how values and principles play out in real life.  They are powerful.


Me and the Beast

Me and the Beast

There is nothing more effective, in my opinion, then apologizing to our children.  I spoke about pursuing the hearts of our children before.  The truth is, we are going to make mistakes as parents.  We are going to act in anger.  We are going to have a bad day and dump on our kids.  These mistakes break the trust we are trying to build and strengthen with our children.  When we apologize for these mistakes, apologize, and seek the forgiveness of our children, we can restore this trust.  This also allows our children to see what they should do when they make mistakes.  Don’t be too proud or act like you never make any mistakes.  Humble yourselves and apologize.

Be Intentional About the Relationships with Your Children

I have two great friends that do this so well.  One has 5 children and one is expecting their 7th.  Each of these world-class dad’s have a special night with each child each month.  This practice seriously helps becoming a student of your children and pursuing their hearts.  I need to do better here.  Know your children.  If I spend a special evening with each of my children once a month, I need to do what they like.  I can take my oldest son to play basketball, and he is in heaven.  If I do the same with my middle son, I am going to miss his sweet spot.

Spend Time

Dads are especially not good at this.  It is in our nature to provide.  We naturally see our role in the family as protecting and giving our family what they need – and want.  We too often find our identities in our work.  Our children equate time with love.  Don’t believe the lie that says, “You are a good dad because you just provide.”  Our children need us to be with them.

So here is some food for thought on how we can be better parents.  What would you add?  Let us know in the comments below!


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A Letter to My Kids

This blog is about next practices – next practices in life, business and commercial real estate.  While I tend to post more about business and CRE, I’ve had a number of triggers that led to this post.  I realize that not everyone shares my faith and my worldview.  This is how I look at life, and this post will be a little more personal than most.

To set this up, let me back up a bit.

In 2003, my great friend Mike Arnett stayed with our family for a month two different times.  He was completing medical rotations at the hospital on the Army based I was stationed at the time.  I would notice him writing in a notebook on a regular basis.  He was writing to his children.  He had two at the time.  He and his wife are now expecting their 7th (not a typo).

I started journaling to my son shortly after.  I would write about my observations of him.  I would write what was going on with me.  The idea was that when he was older, I could give him something that would tell his story.  It would also give him a view into his daddy’s heart.  I now have 3 of these notebooks – one for each child – and they all need to be updated.

I am part of a men’s group that meets on Thursdays.  We talk about our faith.  We meet to help each other lead our companies and our families better.  These are incredible guys, and I’m a better man because of their influence.  In January, one of these men shared that he wrote a letter to his children when they were young.  The letter was about all the things that he hoped for them.  I was inspired and remembered thinking that I wanted to do the same.

Then today, I was listening to a podcast from a new friend that I met last week at the Platform Conference in Nashville. Dan Hayes and his wife have a great podcast called The Simple Life Together.  I highly recommend it.  He was sharing that he wrote a letter to his son before he deployed after 9/11.  His purpose was to communicate to his son all that he would want him to know should he not return.  Again, I was inspired.

So, here is a not so short letter to my children.  I share this because I believe intentionally communicating with our children what they should know is a great idea.  Tomorrow is the first day of the rest of my life, but it could also be my last.  I want to intentionally take steps to share certain things with my children that could make a huge difference in their lives.  I share this to encourage you to do the same.



I love you.  In fact, each of you have helped redefine what love means to me.  At each of your births, I remember knowing that you deserved a better dad than I was that day.  God has used all three of you to refine me, and I’m sure that He will continue to do so.

When you boil life down to its core, relationships are the only things that matter and that last for eternity.  It is not about how much you know, how much you make, or how successful you are.  It is about how you made life better for others.

I submit to you that the most important thing is your relationship with Jesus.  It is the most important thing to your mother and me.  I want you to see this in our lives – not just hear it from our lips.  The world will tell you one thing.  Many different theologies, denominations, and religions will tell you it is about something else.  I’m telling you that it is about love.  God loved you enough to create you just as you are.  Then He loved you enough to buy you back through His Son.  He loves you, and so do I.

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Will – You are so intelligent.  You are athletically gifted.  You have such a passion and a desire to succeed.  You want to please people.  You are a natural leader, and I can see how others are attracted to you.  You will have the ability and opportunity to hugely impact the lives of others in a positive way.  I want you to know that I care more about your character than your success or achievements.  I want you to know that you are unconditionally loved.  I love you not because of your achievement, but because you are my son.  That will never change – no matter what!  I want you to maximize your potential, but whether you do or not has no bearing on my love for you.  Remember to slow down and enjoy the ride.

Ben – You are the flavor of our family.  You see the world in possibilities.  Your creativity and imagination blow me away.  You inspire.  You keep us laughing constantly.  You have to be responsible for the majority of my smiles.  You are a non-conformist and your give-a-darn is completely broken.  I love that about you.  Do not let school, society, or me take away your creativity and personality.  Don’t let us suck away your passion and zeal for life.  I also don’t want you to get kicked out of school.  You have the ability to bring joy and life to the lives of the people who are blessed to know you.  Continue delivering smiles.  You belong in this family.  And I love you – no matter what!

Maddie – You are as tough as nails, and as girlie as they come at the same time.  And I love that about you!  You absolutely delight me.  I love how you light up when you see me.  I love how you run and give me a hug when I come home from a trip.  I love how you want to sing a song with me every night at bedtime.  I love that you asked me to marry you the other night.  I want you to know that you are beautiful.  I want to be a safe place for your heart.  In fact, I will protect your heart until it is time.  And when that day comes, I will give it back to you so you can give it to a blessed young man.  I see the best qualities of your mother in you.  You love people.  You already have deep friendships.  You constantly make those around you feel like a million bucks.  You have me wrapped.  Regardless of what may happen in the future, you are my daughter, and I love you – no matter what!

You three completely rock!  Love, Dad.

So what would you say to your kids?  What would it have meant to have received this sort of letter from your father?  Let me hear from you in the comments section below.

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