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An Open Letter To Youth- Michael Harlow

An Open Letter To Youth- Michael Harlow
January 22, 2016 Michael Harlow

As most of you know, my primary coaching role at Endorphin Fitness is directing the youth and junior athletes.  This age group was the catalyst for the start of Endorphin Fitness and remains a personal passion of mine.  I am also now a father of six who are growing up fast. This combined with the fact that I was once a kid myself pretty much makes me an expert on the subject (yeah right – there is no such thing). So, I have had it on my heart to share a few things with the youth out there:

Do It 100%
What is it?  It is whatever you are doing.  It does not matter if you will be doing it for the rest of your life or even tomorrow.  What matters is that you show an ability to apply yourself.  Some of you are taking classes or jobs that align with what you want to do later.  When you question whether it is right for you, I often see this result in lack of effort.  This applies to sports as well.  I don’t know how many of you will be doing triathlon in 5 years but honestly that is not what matters most. What matters is that you apply 100% to it now.  This will create a habit that will stay with you the remainder of your life.  More so, it will show others the type of person you are which will open many doors for you – quite possibly the one you were most intended to walk through.  I cannot tell you how often I come into contact with people from my past, often in business.  Who I was then usually dictates how willing they are to work with me today.  Don’t ignore the long-term impact of your actions.

Act Beyond Your Age (but not too much)
You have probably heard the professional advice to dress for the position you want, not the position you have.  It rings true for adolescents and beyond clothing as well.  If you want to stand out, make an impression, and be viewed as better than your peers, be mature beyond your age.  Talk to people with respect, use manners, show work ethic, and treat people as you would want to be treated.  I promise it will be noticed and you will be rewarded in many ways (see first point above).  Your coolness will be temporary but your integrity will stay with you forever – don’t compromise integrity.
With that said, enjoy your childhood and don’t take yourself too seriously.  I did not do a good job at this – I worked too hard in school at the expense of some important social experiences.  Your future success will be crafted more by your ability to communicate and work with others than your book smarts.  Make sure you have balance here and enjoy your childhood – just make sure you act with maturity while enjoying it.

You Are Only Entitled To What You Create
I don’t care how talented you are or who your parents are, you are entitled to only what you work hard to achieve.  And, you aren’t even entitled to that!  Don’t adopt the mentality of entitlement that is so prevalent among your peers today.  Insist on hard work and earning what you achieve.  Insist on using what you have been given (your talents, financial stability, a loving family) to the best of your ability in a way that magnifies it.  Don’t squander it or constantly ask for more – recognize what you have, thank those who made it possible, and then work hard to make the absolute best out of it.

Thank Your Parents!
One day, you will understand them.  I had a good relationship with my parents but I did not understand some of their decisions or actions until I had kids of my own.  This is going to happen to you as well so go ahead and give them the benefit of the doubt now instead of wasting years.  Thank them everyday!  If you are competing in the sport of triathlon, your parents are making sacrifices to make this possible – recognize this, thank them for it, and then work hard to make the most of what you have been given.  Go right now and tell them thank you!

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