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Letter to a Grandson — My Hopes and Dreams for You

Dear Porter,

I want to pass along some things I’ve learned about life — what I know and hope for you. I’m sorry if this sounds bossy, but I’m trying to get it all on the page. (And I am bossy. 😊)

  1. Measure your own worth. Your worth is measured by you, not by others.
  2. Get comfortable with yourself. You will still be Porter when you’re 80.
  3. Like yourself. Let others like you! You are unique.
  4. Name your values and filter your thoughts and actions through them.
  5. Be Prepared. The Boy Scout motto is still relevant today.
  6. Get prepared by learning and by participating.
  7. Ask for help and give help. We’re all in it together.
  8. Let loose from shore. Set sail! Curiosity, faith, and discovery are the winds for your life’s voyage.
  9. Seek opportunity. It isn’t about luck, it’s about awareness and preparedness.
  10. Excel at life’s ordinary duties. Then you’ll be trusted with the extra-ordinary.
  11. Choose to participate. Choose to leave skin in the game versus a free ride. Skin heals!
  12. Every choice is a building block, like a LEGO brick. I wish that I were going to be around to see the house you eventually build!
  13. Work, with others and for others. Life is not all about you.
  14. Focus and finish. Your attention belongs to you. It is the secret sauce to your success!
  15. Plan slowly. Practice. Perform quickly.
  16. Be patient. Patience is a form of action and requires timing and practice.
  17. Plan to be unsuccessful too. That is how you gain success.
  18. Paint outside the lines. You’ll never regret the thrill.
  19. Listening is imperative to learning — and it’s a sign of respect.
  20. Learn like there’s a race to be won. Remember: Garbage in — garbage out.
  21. Lead with truth, justice, and humanity.
  22. Love your neighbor. Look into their eyes and see them.
  23. Love to laugh. To laugh, love.
  24. Be thrifty. Saving a dollar will always be easier than earning one.
  25. Forgive and never shame yourself — or others.
  26. Find the good in others. Never judge.
  27. Take it for granted that you are blessed with good looks, prosperity, and privilege. But do not take it with pride and vanity. These qualities are not measurements of your worth.
  28. When you experience fear or dread, stop and identify the reason in order to know yourself better. Next, experience your failure in your imagination in order to prepare yourself for the worst and to learn to be fearless.
  29. Participate fully in the communities that need you: faith, work, school, civic, and family. Life’s treasures come from engaging with others.
  30. Rest. Imagine. Be mindless. Be mindful.
  31. Pray for others, especially when you are upset, scared, or sad. Your prayer will lift their souls and yours at the same time.
  32. Seek truth, beauty and goodness. Pray for peace, love and understanding for all.
  33. Once you “get it”, share it. Give it away, give it away, give it away now.

You are blessed and I love you,


Steve Wilsey lives in Oklahoma City. He’s a retired CPA, father of four, grandfather of eight, a school board member for 14 years and a Vietnam Marine veteran. He wrote this essay for his grandson Porter’s 8th grade retreat.

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