Leaders & Daughters - To My Daughter

The One Thing A Parent Wants

Dear Leah,

Since you were extremely little I’ve been telling you that you could be whatever you wanted to be when you grow up. Some people have reacted cynically when I’ve told them that. They think I’m suggesting that you literally can be anything you choose, which they think is unrealistic. That’s not what I mean, and I know you understand that. What I mean is that you should explore whatever your passions are and give it your best. Growing up is all about dreaming big, trying and (sometimes) failing, and finding your joy. You are such a joyful kid that I already know you are well on your way to succeeding.

A parent wants only one thing for their child, and that is for them to be happy. I don’t ever intend to tell you how to be happy, by the way. Do I have ideas for you? You bet. I’ll share them with you whenever you want—and maybe sometimes when you don’t. If I stay true to myself, they won’t involve telling you what career to choose, who to be friends with, or what hobbies to pursue. My job is to show you a framework for happiness, to support you in your choices—and then, when you’re ready, to get out of the way so you can realize your dreams.

You come from a long line of strong women, including both your grandmothers, your two aunts, and, of course, your mother. You also have a daddy who was raised in a house with two older sisters and whose female classmates always were among the best at everything at school. I know you won’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t do something because you’re a girl. I can’t wait to see what choices you make in the future. I’m so proud of the choices you’ve already made.

I love you every second of every day,

Daddy

Adam Lashinsky, assistant managing editor of Fortune, has covered Silicon Valley for almost 20 years.