As I type this, my parents are on a plane back to Canada after a 10-day visit with my wife and I.
It's not surprising that I learned most of what I know from my parents. Even as an adult, when we spend time together, I learn a little more.
Sometimes I learn something new. And sometimes, something they taught me over 20 years ago finally 'clicks.'
I'm fortunate to have these two as my parents.
And because I'm so fortunate, I want to share the wealth with you. Here are 6 of the greatest lessons my parents have ever taught me.
#1 I'm Just a Guy
In his early 30's, my dad was in full-on conquer mode.
Every man goes through this phase. This is when you want to build your empire, leave your mark, establish yourself as the greatest of all time.
This time in your life can be a lot of fun. It's where you buckle down, do what you do best, and build your legacy one brick at a time.
But it can also be exhausting. And if you put too much pressure on yourself, it can be soul crushing.
You lose sleep, develop health issues, and live in a constant state of fear that you'll never achieve what you're capable of.
My dad was a career police officer, and when he was around my age (33 years old) he set out to climb the ranks.
Not because he wanted it, but because he thought he was supposed to.
He put a ton of pressure on himself, and made himself miserable.
This made him question why he was climbing this mountain, and if it was something that was really important to him.
Eventually, he came to a conclusion that took the pressure off, and changed his entire outlook on life.
"I'm just a guy."
I'll be honest...when he told me about this realization, I thought to myself, "That's great. But there's no way in hell I'm just a guy."
I didn't get it. That piece of advice was lost on me for over 15 years.
Now, after experiencing my own crushing anxiety over the legacy I'll leave behind, I get it.
Saying "I'm just a guy" doesn't reduce you to anything less than you are. It removes the shackles of fear and frees you up to be everything you're capable of.
Keep doing what you do, and accomplish everything you want to accomplish.
But do it with a light heart, and free of pressure.
#2 In Order to Get, First You've Got to give
This 30-year old Ernie doll is the first thing I ever worked for.
When I was 3, I loved Ernie, and I wanted this thing so bad.
Instead of just buying it for me, my mom made me earn it by cleaning our living room table.
Mind you, I was pretty bad at it, and according to mom, I only cleaned one spot, over and over.
But the point is, Ernie didn't just show up in my life. I had to go through the process. I had to put in some work. I had to earn it.
And when I finally got my hands on that Ernie doll, it was that much sweeter.
We often wish we could skip the process and go straight to the result.
And I get it...I wasn't pumped about having to do a chore before getting Ernie either.
But the process not only leads to the results we want. It's what makes achieving those results so inspiring.
#3 If You're Feeling Down, Help Someone Else
This lesson comes from my grandma, but my mom makes sure it stays fresh in my mind.
When life isn't going our way, it's easy to become focused on ourselves. This self-focus makes things worse, trapping us in a whirlwind of victim-hood.
But instead of wallowing in self pity, my grandmother taught us to get up and help someone else.
When my grandfather passed away, after giving herself some time to mourn, the next thing my grandma did was volunteer to help other people.
She donated her home-made buns and deserts, and participated in fund raisers.
I couldn't believe she could be so selfless as she mourned the loss of her husband of over 60 years.
But helping people wasn't 100% selfless. It was also selfish.
It was her way of freeing herself from the trap of negativity that comes with a constant focus on oneself.
Thanks to my mom and grandma, if I catch myself in a spiral of negativity, I ask myself "who can I help?"
#4 Family First, Work Second
I help people burn fat and build muscle for a living, and I have a lot of passion for what I do. (Check out some of my clients success stories).
Because of that, I have a tendency to prioritize my work at the expense of what matters most- family.
As much as my work means to me, it will never mean more than my small tribe of loved ones. So when I catch myself sacrificing time with my family for work, my parents example helps me get my priorities back in order.
Growing up, our home was family focused.
My parents left money on the table when they decided my mom would stay home with my sister and I.
And work was never the center of my dads life. It was a place he earned a paycheck to support his family. This meant he got his fulfillment from things outside his career, like scuba diving, wood working, playing music, building guitars, and his family.
Even though my dad and I have very different careers, I still follow his lead when it comes to priorities.
Work is important, but family comes before everything.
#5 Relax- It's Not That Serious
On the last night of my parents visit, I asked them, "If you could give your 22 year-old self one piece of advice, what would it be?"
Without hesitation, they both said "Relax! It's not that serious."
When I sit back and observe the rhythm of life, it seems to have a certain flow to it.
You don't have to force anything. You just have to get out of your own way and go with it.
I believe the natural flow of life is progress and evolution, and instead of using blunt force to realize your potential, you just need to relax and go with the flow.
That doesn't mean you get to be lazy and let life unfold from your couch. It means you follow your intuition, you avoid overthinking, you act with inspiration, and remove all the make-believe walls you've put up between you and your goals.
Simply put; you put in work, but you do it with inspiration instead of resistance.
But even though I believe this, I don't always embody it.
I still worry about the future, and agonize over the past.
But as my parents reminisced over the last 35 years of their life, what they said helped me solidify what I already knew.
We just need to relax. Let go. Roll with it.
Most of all, enjoy it. Live every moment, and don't let the past or the future spoil the gift that is the present.
#6 Cats Are the Greatest. And It's Not Even Close.
My parents raised me with cats, and I'm glad they did because cats are the greatest.
Sure, sometimes they're assholes.
But mostly, they're hilarious, arrogant, lovable killing machines.
As my parents fly back home to Canada, I can't help but reflect on all they've lessons taught me over the course of my life.
While these lessons are just the tip of the spear, I hope you take something away from this list that will help you improve your own life.