Chris Markiewicz's Blog
Every Monday – thoughts, observations and ideas that hold up a mirror to who & how we are

The wisdom of Gareth

I am the parent of two teenage children. They’re great kids, but of course I’m biased.

Like most parents I wonder about their future, how they’ll make their way through life especially given the increasingly uncertain nature of the world we occupy. I wonder how things will be when they’re in their 20’s, 30’s, 40’s and well beyond.

What can we equip them with to help ensure that they get on OK in life? Are we doing all we can? Are we moving in the right general direction with them? Could we be doing more?

This is the heartfelt cry that probably  comes from most parents out there.

Part of the answer to these questions came to me late one night. It didn’t come from within me. It came from a man called Gareth.  

I was lying on a bed in a mate’s spare room. I was overnighting with him and his wife prior to a course I was due to run the next day. Often when I’m away I like to have the radio on quietly for company. On this particular night I happened to be tuned into a late phone in programme. The topic was education.

 “Next on the line we have Gareth from Highbury. Hi Gareth…”

 “ Hi, I’d like to tell you what I want for my kids more than anything else”  declared Gareth “I want them to have three things: Integrity, the ability to engage and thirdly, a healthy shot of self esteem”.

This blew me away. My own youngsters were but toddlers at the time, yet somehow what this late night caller said was burned into my consciousness from that point onwards and has been right up to this day.

Now, I’m not saying that just these three things will guarantee  a trouble free and successful future for my own children, but I reckon it ain’t a bad start!

I’d say that, with such a foundation other qualities and endeavours will have a pretty good chance of being realised. I will be happy as Larry (or Gareth) if Clara and Adam shine academically, or in any other number of ways, but I’d say that integrity, engagement and strong self esteem will help see them through most situations. I’d find it difficult to think of them achieving great things at the expense of any of these three qualities.

When my best friend died eleven years ago aged 44, I was with him. Just half an hour after he died, a young doctor came into his hospital  room. She needed to register his death. The first words that left her mouth on “engaging” with myself and Andy’s widow were:  “I need you out of here”.

Brilliant medically? Perhaps.  Ability to engage?  Nah.

Would I feel proud if either of my children chose to became doctors? Absolutely, if that’s what they wanted. Would I feel proud if they “engaged” with patients or relatives in that way? Absolutely not.

There was the highly successful Italian lawyer from a major US bank who was attending one of my courses. He was almost in tears when telling me how trapped he felt in his career and how out of integrity it was for him. “I had a passion for gardening and nature, but was forced into a “proper” career”.  The poor man had had to do what was expected of him and was now stuck  in a golden cage, completely out of integrity and utterly  miserable.

So, how about me as a role model for my youngsters? Do I possess the three qualities in spades? I’ll admit, not quite. For me it remains very much a work in progress, especially dare I say, the third one. However, I try to look ahead to when my children are the  age I am now. Will they be having a life well spent? Will the formula I + E + SE equal being happy, fulfilled and doing OK?

With the benefit of Gareth’s wisdom, I’d like to think there’s a damn good chance.

Thanks Gareth from Highbury – whoever you are.           


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One Response to “The wisdom of Gareth”

  1. I agree, Chris. Integrity is something that guides my every decision. I struggle sometimes with engagement but it’s a work in progress.

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