I never knew my grandfathers; they both died long before I came along. They were born in the late 19th century and into a world without cars, airplanes, electricity or phones. They could never have imagined that their grandson would download music from the internet, take a picture and send it across continents with a mobile phone or get a DNA profile to predict diseases. Likewise it is impossible for me to imagine the world in which you will live in 60 or 80 years’ time. Is it reasonable to expect that you will still be alive in 2100 and what will things be like then? No one knows but let me try to give you some advice which should stand you in good stead and transcend the vagaries of technologies and fashions.
There are many ideas and stories that I want to share with you in the coming years. Let me start by saying that I believe that you are put on this earth to do seven things and they are:
We used to think that learning was something we did as children and young adults at school but it is now clear that learning is a life-long challenge. You have to keep learning new competences and technologies all through your life so the key thing is to learn how to learn. You need to value all you get from parents, schools and teachers and learn how to teach yourself so that you can continually refresh your skills.
Love is one of life’s great joys and great mysteries. It comes in many forms; the child-like love for your parents and siblings, the passionate love for your partner, the devoted love you will give to your child, the caring love you will give to your aging parents. A life without love would be like a life without sunshine. But love does not always come naturally. It is a blessing. We need to work at it and value it when it arrives, to cherish it and not lose it by our carelessness.
Look around. Most of the things that you see are the fruit of someone’s work. They toiled to create the world you live in. Most people work in order to make money to support themselves and their families—there is nothing wrong with this; indeed it is the foundation of our society. But work can be much more than just a meal-ticket. It can be something worthwhile, rewarding and fulfilling. If you can find something that you love doing then it can be a joy and an achievement.
Just as we have a need to learn we have a duty to teach. This can take many forms. We can teach with our actions, with our speech, with our writing, with our work. We can be an example to others. Each of us can be a teacher—even from a young age.
To help others
We can achieve wonderful things and great satisfaction by helping others. As you go through life be a good friend and good friends will come to you. Parenting can be a wonderful experience and it can be a heavy burden. It is a blessing which is not bestowed on everyone. Not all who become parents do it well. If you are fortunate enough to have children then you will find your life stretched and enriched. If you are childless you can still help in the bringing up of children—it will help to keep you youthful.
Many people choose a life of safety and routine but nearly all of the great advances in science, business or society have come from explorers—people who tried new things and pushed back the boundaries of our knowledge and experience. As you go through life, retain the curiosity of a child and keep looking for the creative and the new. Do not be afraid to try new things and to fail in some of your undertakings.
At the end we all die and this certain knowledge can help drive us to accomplish more in our short time and to cherish the good things. When you die what will people say of you? Who will you have loved? What will you have achieved? What will be your legacy?
As you grow up please read the stories of the lives of great men and women; people like Gandhi, Churchill, Nelson Mandela, and Steve Jobs. You will see how they employed these actions on their road to success.
I want to wish you great happiness and every success on your journey in life. I will watch out for you and offer my love and my help as you start out.