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Zachary Walston

Some Fatherly Advice Stands the Test of Time

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Zachary Walston
Zachary Walston
 2021-05-10

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This pandemic has been a challenge to mental health and has strained social relationships. When we are struggling, our closest friends and family members are often the people we go to for advice and comfort.

Given the many distancing precautions still in place, some people need to find advice through other means. Books are a common source.

What if we could combine paternal advice from a book? What if that advice could resonate with an audience it wasn't intended for?

“Consider carefully before you say a hard word to a man, but never let a change to say a good one go by.”

Most books that provide advice write to a wide audience. Authors want their message spread, and publishers want to sell lots of copies. What if a book was intended for a single reader? Letters from a Self-Made Merchant to his Son is just that.

“When you are in the right, you can afford to keep your temper, and when you’re in the wrong you can’t afford to lose it.”

In this book, the owner and leading man of a meatpacking company in the early 20th century writes 20 letters to his son. The letters largely focus on career advice, with some school and family life advice mixed in. The author draws on his experiences and includes short stories about past acquaintances in each letter. While you don’t get the responses, you receive a little snippet about the event that lead to the development of the letter.

“A man who does big things is too busy to talk about them. When the jaws really need exercise, chew gum.”

The book is full of valuable advice that cuts to the point. No ‘5 step processes’ or ‘see this website for a useful quiz,’ rather, personal and authentic advice from a successful businessman to his son.

“A boss with a case of big-head will leave an office full of sore heads.”

Sure, the advice is largely anecdotal, but it pairs well will current research on human psychology and business practices.

“Don’t accept notes for happiness because you’ll find that when they’re due they’re never pain, but just renewed for another thirty days.”

It is a quick read and an insightful one. It has helped center me during a trying time.