Leaders & Daughters - To My Daughter

Dr. Seuss Was Right


Dear Mary, Ella, Anna and Claudia:

Personally, I think Dr Seuss is incredibly underrated. If all you do is re-read Oh The Places You Will Go! a few times you will get a sense of aspiration and ambition and what the future might hold.

A few quotes might help.

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You are on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who will decide where to go…

The first blessing for the four of you, not afforded to many women around the world, is that of choice. What a privilege to grow up in a free country and to be in a position of self-determination.

I love too that there is hope and optimism in the quote. Pure speculation about the possibility of the future. How wonderful.

“You will get mixed up of course as you already know. You will get mixed up with many strange birds as you go. So be sure where you step. Step with care and great tact and remember that life is a great balancing act.”

It is not all plain sailing! Sometimes you will go one step forward and two steps back, three steps to one side and four to another! But the journey is a reward. You will learn a lot more from your failures than you will your successes, and a lot of the successes you will have later will be as a consequence of the failures you have earlier. In fact the contrary is true too!

And that life is a great balancing act. It is also a great privilege to concentrate on one thing and develop mastery in it at the expense of all others, the lack of balance in that will lead you somewhere else. For me the lesson is being conscious about the effort and investment you put into each aspect of your life, so you are not left disillusioned.

“Wherever you fly you will be the best of the best, wherever you go you will top all the rest. Except when you don’t. Because sometimes you won’t.”

Comparisons are odious. That comes from The Anatomy of Melancholy, written in 1621. Life is a race with one person in it. Of course you should strive; using other people as a measuring stick leads to disenchantment. You have to be a better human being than that.

“When you are in a slump, you are not in for much fun. Un-slumping yourself is not easily done.”

The answer is always inside you. Unlocking that changes perspective and allows you to go on.

“And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! (98 ¾% guaranteed)”

And at the end, when you reflect on your life, if you have done your best, that is all anyone can ask. There is a good chance you will have achieved what you wanted, but it is not certain, and only you will know.

I hope you can rest easily, knowing there is nothing you would change. You will have made wise choices, had some big bumps along the way, overcome them and learned all about yourself on your journey. That for me is a happy life.

Love, Dad

Neil Waters is a partner in Egon Zehnder’s Melbourne, Australia office.

Learn more about EgonZehnder Leaders and Daughters

Recent posts

For Ali & Carly- Go far, and go together.

Dear Ali & Carly, As I look at how the two of you are building your own successful careers in the advertising business, I couldn’t be prouder. Naturally, your dad and I always wanted the best for you, and while...

Live, Love, and Laugh Well

Dear Izzi, There’s a meme spreading on social media channels of a Fisher-Price game that comes complete with all the things necessary for soul-crushing meetings. In addition to a table, chairs, coffee cups, and a...

Stay Fearless Forever

Dear Ruby Carmen, Soon you’ll be turning 3 years old. To celebrate I want to share my hopes and dreams for you: Live life for you. Let your courage grow. Make your moments count and be present. Don’t be afraid. I LOVE...

And Dance – Dance Like Nobody’s Watching

To my daughters: It’s special to write to you on Mother’s Day 2018. Today at lunch, we went around the table and shared why we love and appreciate each of our family members. I was honored that you...

3 Simple Things

Sam and Peyton, My most important accomplishment in life is each of you. I am so proud of the young women you have become. As I reflect upon our lives together, there are 3 simple things I would say to always remember:...

The Mother’s Day Gift I Want You To Give Yourself

Dear Cat, A few years ago, I overheard you talking to a friend about work-life balance. You marveled that even as your mother worked a corporate job, she had been to every one of your volleyball games. That was not...

Force of Nature

Dear Jessica, I will let this letter act as a warning to anyone that will try and limit you or your potential in this world. They will be dealing with a formidable force of nature. Your combined Scottish and Italian...

Ma Chère Camille

Ma chère Camille, Aussi loin que je me souviens, tu as toujours su ce que tu voulais. Ta détermination te prédestinait à de grandes choses. Ta discipline scolaire et sportive t’ont toujours démarquée. Aujourd’hui, je...

Yum! Brands’ Greg Creed: Courageous Woman

Dear Lauren, It’s hard to believe that you are turning 30 this year, which only reinforces my belief that the days can be long but the years are always short. It has been a joy and brought me so much pleasure and...