The finest inheritance you can give to a child is to allow it to make its own way, completely on its own feet.
As parents, we are so desirous of providing the wonderful things in life for our children. It is truly one of life’s greatest joys.
Yet, the reality is, that at a certain point, we are far wiser to back off completely and allow them to forge for themselves.
This is not always the easiest of choices. Especially when you see them hit a hard patch and you want to help in every way possible. The truth is, this is not always a black or white decision. This is a continuous shade of gray and it requires a judicious perspective that is tempered by intelligent and rational restraint, paired with a willingness and desire to empower them to stand even stronger on their own two feet and accelerate into life as best they may.
I remember in building The Illusion Factory, how desperately I wished I had a relative who had all the connections. It was a sad compartment in my overall collection of mindset. “Why couldn’t there be just one family member who would give me the leg up and connect me to the relationships I would leverage to achieve my dreams??!”
In this shallow moment of self pity, I was obviously overlooking the fact that my father spent years teaching me to be a photographer, back when photography was a tech science. There were no auto exposure functionalities, so I had to learn F-stops, shutter speeds, processing my own film, printing in the dark room, and so much more. Not only that, but I conveniently overlooked that my father built a photo studio into his home and a dark room, in which I was able to build The Illusion Factory and evolve into the company it has since become.
So to wallow in self pity that there was no leg up was not only inaccurate, but it was wholly false in that everything I have built with my team has started with the $14,000 he loaned me to start my greeting card company, Paradise Photography, and the countless hours he spent teaching me the art of photography, exposing me to Ansel Adams and all the greats of that time.
Eventually, there came a time when I would have to go out and find clients for those greeting cards. I had to figure out how to find clients for my photo studio. When an insult (calling me a Jack of all trades, master of none) came at me by age 20, from a Creative Director at the first major ad agency I got my first interview with, I had to suck it up, and in doing so, I told that Creative Director that I would convert The Illusion Factory into an ad agency and start pursuing all of their clients. (Ah, the bravado of being 20!). And so I did. I knew nothing about advertising. But I never admitted that.
My father and mother never interfered with me or my career. They supported the choices I made, whether they were wise or not, and comforted me when they were really wrong.
Now, as I am readying to bring my son, Chris, into my professional world, it is my responsibility to empower him to succeed and back off completely, so that he may continue to forge his way. Given that he is continually on the Dean’s List and will graduate with the top honors, I have all expectations that he too has mastered the art of standing on his own two feet, and making his way in life.
Sometimes, the most loving thing in the world is to let go.