What is the Most Important Thing in Life?

Today, we are talking about filling your house with children, and the problem is kind of what is this vision of a good life? What do we believe we’re chasing after? What is the point of life, specifically when you’re a family with kids, and Jeremy has a really awesome quote he wants to read for us so we can kind of kick off with.

Yeah, you guys know how we like to make sure that you are aware of how ancient people thought about this. This guy’s not too ancient. He’s one of our presidents, Teddy Roosevelt, but he was a part of a multigenerational family in the city of Manhattan. I’ve spent some time studying Teddy as one of the many multigenerational families that you can look at from history. One of his quotes too is he used to make a really big point about not feeling sorry for people who are in the first generation of trying to make a successful family, because he’d always say, “Hey, my ancestors were pig farmers in Manhattan 300 years ago,” and so, yeah. He was very successful, very famous family by the time he became president, but he said this, “There are many kinds of success in life worth having. It is exceedingly interesting and attractive to be a successful businessman or railway man or farmer or a successful lawyer or a doctor or a writer or president or ranch man or the colonel of a fighting regiment or to kill grizzly bears and lions.”

Something that he liked to do, I guess.


“But for unflagging interest and enjoyment, a household full of children, if things go reasonably well, certainly makes all other forms of success and achievement lose their importance by comparison.” And I don’t know how many modern people really believe this, modern fathers, but this is something that was very commonly understood a hundred plus years ago, that no matter how wealthy you are or if you looked up and saw, “Oh wow, look at that person and how successful they are in business or in politics or in ministry or whatever,” everyone kind of had … There was an understanding that, “Hey, if the home life is really rich, then you are feeling and experiencing a real success, and there really isn’t a greater thing to shoot for from the perspective of what it looks like to live a fulfilled life as a successful person.

And so one of the things that’s great about that is that is really within reach of the vast majority of people. When you make success business success or media success or something like that, you really are putting the definition of success out of the reach of the vast majority of people. And a lot of people think about this. One way to know that we actually all still kind of believe this deep, deep down, we just don’t talk about it this way or it’s not really on the surface, is what a lot of people call the death bed test, which is when people think about what really is important to them when they’re sitting on their death bed, they oftentimes think about their family relationships first, and it’s always confusing to people as to why … If that’s so important to me really deep down, why didn’t I live that way, right? What’s going on there? What are your thoughts Jeff?

Yeah, I think there’s a lot there. To answer your question at the end quickly, I do feel like yeah, that is the common kind of regret people have, but I think that comes from it’s longer, it’s harder, and it’s a little less measurable in some sense to build a 300 year family versus just go do something and maybe achieve it and you see the measure of it, which is also why I think sometimes guys trade in their work for their family in the immediate as well, because it’s a little bit more … The feedback loop is a little bit stronger. That’s maybe a better way to say it. But like you said, the flip side of that is also the part that’s oppositely true, which is you can get rich and meaningful. It depends on what your measure of that is, because rich and meaningful success can actually happen immediately in a family where you can feel the feedback of it being a blessing and it being fulfilling and it being such a gift that just might not be hard to measure and kind of quantify.

But that’s not what we’re all searching for and what we’re living for. So yeah, I love this quote. I think it’s incredible. I think it’s awesome and I would just encourage fathers out there, do you really have this vision? Do you have this vision of your priorities straight, of actually understanding how you want to die, how you want to leave this earth as kind of a morbid way to think about it, but then reverse engineer that backwards, because if you don’t want to make those regrets on the last day, then you need to start making changes on the first day today. And so what would that look like to start creating that legacy, putting one stone on top of another, being in a family that loves each other, and again, this quote from Teddy is the best.

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