I wanted to talk to you today about a father’s legacy. Father’s Day just passed. That’s a really big deal to me. My father’s still alive and he’s done so much for me, it’s ridiculous.
I wouldn’t be the man I am today, the person I am without my father. He’s just helped me out so much along the way.
He raised me. He gave me a sense of morality and ethics. He was one of the hardest workers I’ve ever known and ever seen. Diligent, day in and day out.
For me, I have a wife and six children. We started having kids pretty young. But that wasn’t a detriment to me. It was a such a blessing and a benefit, because I was able to do those things that my father had taught me to do.
Which was work extremely hard. Not follow the crowd. And build something. Pay for your education. Start a focused practice. I wouldn’t be able to do those things without my father.
He always coached my teams when I was a kid. I played three sports a year, and I loved baseball.
I will always remember a specific life lesson he gave to me. He said, “Greg, if you’re on the field and you make an error in a baseball game, you can’t sulk about it. You can’t dwell on it. Your mistakes can’t get you down. You’ve got to move past it quickly. Because everybody makes mistake, and the next play is coming – and it’s coming quick.
“That next batter’s up, and if you’re still thinking about that past mistake, you’re not going to be ready for that next play that’s coming.”
That’s just always stuck with me. That’s what’s allowed me to take a lot of hits during life and just keep on going. The next play’s coming so you better get ready for it.
So I want to be a great example for my children.
What I Want to Teach My Kids
My children are all great kids. It’s amazing how several kids from the same parent can have such different personalities.
What legacy do I want to leave for my kids?
I want to leave them a legacy of creativity and problem solving. Don’t ever let the world or life get you down. Don’t ever let somebody tell you you’re not good enough, smart enough, or you can’t do something.
Push forward. Do what you want to do. You come from a long line of confident people, who can accomplish whatever they want to when they put their minds to it.
I want them to be God fearing. To be humble. Know that there’s somebody above you and love everyone.
Give more than you get. Help other people that are less fortunate than you, at every opportunity, every chance you get. Whether on the street, in life, or in business. Give to others.
It’s just so important, even to your own sanity and success, self-esteem and self-worth. Share the love, share the wealth.
The more you do it, the more you’ll find you will be. Your spirit will be in good shape too.
How Fatherhood Made Me a Better Person
Those are some of the legacies I want to leave my kids.
Having kids made me want to be a better person. They made me want to be a better man and to live right.
Make the right decisions. Provide for them. Send them to college. Maybe not pay for it, necessarily, but equip them with the tools to have a great education.
Instill them with a good platform of hard work and independence, so they can go off in life and be functioning adults.
A lot of times, we see have people who are not functioning adults, because they’ve been babied and coddled their whole lives. I don’t want to leave that legacy to them. I want them to be independent and make their own decisions based on a framework we’ve given them, which we know to be the right way to do things.
That being said, I want them to be open to others and their ideas as well. To bee accepting and love others.
Be positive, not negative. Don’t bring negativity in my house. Don’t bring it in my workplace. Don’t call me with it. If you do, I’m going to turn it around and give it back to you in a positive way.
Love others. Be giving. If you keep that mentality, you’re going to be a great success in life.
I have two boys and four girls. My boys are 15 and 11. The girls are 7, 5, 4, and 18 months.
And man, it just changes your perspective on how you think about things. About women’s issues, for a man, for a father. You want them to go out and be independent. To get a fair shot, be equal, and not take any crap from anybody either.
I hope I can give them the confidence and legacy and step out and be great ladies, who are giving and loving, but also are confident and don’t allow themselves to ever be sold short because of their gender.
What I Hope to Leave Behind
I think taking care of my wife, that’s another part of being a father and a husband. I want to take care of her. She takes good care of me, and I appreciate that.
I want to make sure that we have our foundations in place, our general durable power of attorneys, healthcare power of attorneys, living will, and wills. Those are important so that she can take care of me if I was ever incapacitated, if I ever couldn’t handle my business or personal accounts.
Of course I want to leave my monetary things. The thing about life is my experience and knowledge are always changing. But right now, at this point in my life, I would want to give a good amount of money to my church. I’d want to give a good amount of money to some charities that are near and dear to my heart. The Boys and Girls Club of Cleveland County, they would get a good chunk, because I think they do an amazing good for the community.
I’d want to give a portion to my wife, to provide for my kids’ college educations. Maybe stagger how it was released so I wouldn’t curse my kids with a ton of money at 18 years old.
My gosh, if I would have gotten millions or hundreds of thousands when I was 18 years old, insurance money or an inheritance, I’d be dead right now. I could pretty much guarantee that. Because I would have blown it in a lot of really stupid ways.
It would not have helped me. It would have hurt me. I had a good leg up in life. But starting without that kind of curse of hundreds of thousands of dollars would be a great thing for them, so they have to work for it.
So they have the incentive and motivation to develop a good work ethic. To finish college. Maybe go to grad school. And release the money to them in increments along the way. Give them a chance to settle down a bit, get into a groove in their life and their careers, and have a little more wisdom and common sense.
I would leave also money in trusts to make sure that my wife was just well taken care of. I would take care of our house and make sure it’s preserved and protected, for her and then later for my children.
I don’t want it to just evaporate. I don’t want it to go away because I haven’t planned properly.
That’s why I would suggest that you plan properly. Have your foundational documents in place: general durable power of attorney, healthcare power of attorney, living will, will.
Have you house and your real estate set up so that it passes outside the will, and you can do that with deed documents. Have trusts set up if that’s what you need to do. Make sure you don’t curse your kids with a ton of insurance money or inherited money at 18 year old.
Give them some incentive to live life and be fully productive adults, without that kind of assistance in place yet. Give them some incentive.
Those are things that I think you need to plan for and work for.
Steps to Leaving a Legacy
As you know, I’m an elder law attorney.
What would I leave for a legacy for my kids? Well, those are the legacies I’ll leave them. And blogs like this or my videos.
We do legacy videos in our office, so you can sit down and do record one with us. Then we’ll put it on a CD or have it on a USB drive that you can give to everybody in your family. E-mail it around. Put it on Youtube.
Whatever you need to do, to let your family know that this is what happened during your life.
That’s very important. So you can give them more than just money or property.
A Special Message for the Dads
Happy Father’s Day to all you dads our there. Take your responsibilities seriously. It’s a gift to be a father. Take it seriously, let it change your life, and make the best man out of you that you can be. And just love your kids at every chance you can. Spoil them and hug them and kiss them.
But also give them a work ethic. Make them do their homework and do their chores and work in your office and whatever you need to do. Teach them how to ride their bikes down the road. You don’t have to drive them everywhere.
Teach them to run. Teach them to keep in shape for the rest of their lives. Give them a legacy. And plan to take care of them should something happen to you.
That’s where I come in.