kids should know this before becoming a teenager

Dedicated to all the incredible parents and people managers around the world who look to better themselves and those around them in shaping our future leaders. This article is for you. #BeTheBoss

I have spent the past fifteen plus years of my career developing leaders around the world and the past four as a proud “dad” and father so every now and again when I read something that immediately stops me in my tracks professionally and makes think about things personally I always take note.

My amazing wife recently sent me an article that appeared in the Huffington Post about what to teach your child (specifically a boy) about life to ensure he is properly equipped to tackle what life decides to throw his way before hitting his teenage years. I read this article more than once and it really got me thinking about how as parents from the moment you bring home your child and leave the hospital, you are on your own to teach and develop these future leaders. Raising a child can be (and for me is) the most challenging and rewarding job on the planet. Everyday you start over learning from the day(s) before hoping to better yourself for the betterment of your child and their future.

The parallels of developing others – whether they are kids or business professionals are plenty and some of the best books on the topic weren’t written by people with numerous degrees or sitting in a high level of leadership in some prominent company. What Shannon Ralph outlined below could very well be applied to the broader world of personal development and some aspects of professional development and not just for boys. Although this is not a complete list by any means, it’s definitely thorough in covering some essential and some might say critical components to successfully navigating life’s unknowns.

Here are 10 powerful lessons I want my son to learn before he becomes a teenager.

  1. Kindness is power, not weakness.
    Gentleness is strength. As is empathy. It is not “manly” to be cruel. It is not “weak” to be gentle. All too often, we underestimate the power of kindness to turn the world around.
  2. A girl’s body belongs ONLY to her.
    You have no claim to it, no matter who she is. No matter how long you’ve been dating. She makes the rules regarding her body. In the same way, you make the rules concerning your body. A boy can say no, too.
  3. Express your feelings.
    Use your words. Don’t bottle it up. Don’t push it down. Our feelings are what make us fully-evolved humans. Don’t be a caveman.
  4. Cook, clean, and do your own laundry.
    Every man should be able to cook something delicious (or, at minimum, edible), clean up after himself, and wash his own clothes. And please, please understand — and don’t just say it, but actually believe — that none of this is “women’s work.”
  5. Say “please,” “thank you,” and “excuse me” every day.
    Manners are important. Manners, though underutilized in this modern world, will set you apart. In school. In your career. In your future relationships. Manners will get you far in life.
  6. Don’t trust everyone. At the same time, don’t NOT trust anyone. People need to earn your trust. Don’t give it away freely, but give it to the people who deserve it. We all need an inner circle of people who have our backs.
  7. A little confidence goes a long way, even if you have to fake it.
    And there will be times when you totally fake it. Trust me on that. But know that you are smart. Know that you are capable. Know that you are talented. You have what it takes to make your dreams come true. Just believe in yourself.
  8. Never kiss and tell.
    It is disrespectful. It is rude. It takes advantage of another person’s vulnerability. Your friends do not need to know the details. Leave them to their fully capable imaginations.
  9. Sometimes the joke is just not worth it.
    You know I am a fan of wicked wit. Expertly executed sarcasm is one of my favorite things in the world. And you are quite adept at both. But it is not always appropriate. There are things more important than a perfect punchline. Like friendship. Trust. Kindness. Think before you make the joke. Is it worth it?
  10. Explore the world.
    Get out. See new things. Explore new places. Broaden your horizons. Backpack across Europe. Safari in Africa. Trek through the rain forests. Cultivate a worldlier perspective. I will always be your home base.


Final thought:
We live in a crazy fast paced world that is filled with as much hope as there is uncertainty. Technology is moving faster than people can grasp and just when you do, that program, product or function is quickly obsolete. Sure, we have STEM Schools, Common Core and of course amazing organizations like Khan Academy but we can never forget the importance of “off-line” learning and emotional and personal development not just of our kids and future leaders but ourselves as well. Whether you are parent or not, we all have the ability and opportunity to instill some of these life lessons in others everyday. We are all leaders in life and it doesn’t take much to support another individual.

The floor is yours. What are some key life lessons someone taught you growing up?

With leadership,


Not-your-typical Personal and Executive Master Certified Coach.
Joshua Miller is a creative and impactful leader. His career experience has spanned both the advertising world and the world of leadership and organizational development. In advertising, he was responsible in delivering campaign strategies for Fortune 100 companies. Now he innovates and delivers results when supporting executive talent development and change management for the same clients.

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