What's a motto with you

When my wife and I first contemplated having a child, we were filled with grand ideas.

The thought of bringing another life into this world was an awe-inspiring concept. However, beyond this idealism, we were curious about what type of individual we wanted to nurture.

Most people aspire to be successful, but few genuinely comprehend what success means, let alone recognize it when they achieve it. To us, having a successful child wasn't the ultimate goal. We sought something more profound.

The prospect of raising a good person resonated with us, but that prompted another question: What constitutes “good”?

Down the rabbit hole we plunged, without a clear definition. Then, suddenly, it dawned on us. It was something so simple yet powerful, pure yet revolutionary.

We decided that we wanted our child to be curious, kind, and courageous.

Being curious is important because the world is filled with wonders. Living with a sense of curiosity and wonder is like embracing the joy of discovery every day. It also fosters humility when interacting with others. Curious individuals don't consider themselves superior, viewing others as mere pawns. Instead, they are eager to learn, to understand, and are open to being proven wrong.

Kindness, however, is rare in today's world. A kind individual empathizes rather than dominates, serves rather than being served. Kindness counteracts most deadly sins. It's a quality I appreciate in my wife, my parents, and the best people I've encountered. Those I've admired for their strength were invariably kind. Their power wasn't wielded but offered as a gift.

Finally, courage—the spark that propels the world forward. It is the most American trait I know, and one that I've loved in this country since my arrival. The courage to explore, seek, and test oneself. A courageous heart yearns for adventure. If courage was more prevalent, we might see more honesty, self-awareness, and clarity.

The beauty of this triad of virtues—curiosity, kindness, and courage—was how harmoniously they complemented each other. A kind soul without courage may become meek or passive. A courageous heart without curiosity might be driven by reckless ego. A curious mind without kindness could turn cold and manipulative.

So, once our son was born, we adhered to this motto as we taught him how to live, love, and be. One day, as I was dropping him off at daycare, I told him, “Have a curious, kind, and courageous day.” His puzzled look made me smile, as if I'd planted a profound idea into his young mind.

After repeating this for several days, he asked, “Why do you say that?” I explained that it's the kind of day we wished for him. His expression was less puzzled, marking an improvement.

Eventually, he expected my daily message. And then one day, after I wished him a “curious, kind, and courageous day,” he playfully added, “And cucumber!”

“Why do you say that?” I asked, using his own question. He responded with the straightforward logic children possess and adults often lose, “Because it makes sense.”

It did make sense. This silly addition was pure childlike joy. That which eventually leaves most adults’ lives as we are mired in meetings, dinner plans, errands, and deadlines.

I embraced it and have been adding it ever since.

Why do I share this with you? It’s not only an adorable story about my son that always makes me smile, but it was also the beginning of something for me.

I learned to embody this motto in my own life. Surprisingly, it transformed my professional life as well.

As a people manager and business leader for many years, I tried to follow various leadership philosophies. However, none of them felt genuinely me until I discovered this model centered on curiosity, kindness, courage, and child-like joy. It helped me focus on the right things, align my decision-making with my values, and interact with my team authentically.

Authenticity is crucial in life and essential at work. If you can't be true to yourself at work, you risk frequent bouts of burnout. However, a word of caution—seek about 90% authenticity. You remember that scene in Interstellar where the robot reports only 90% honesty? Same thinking. No one appreciates an unfiltered version of anyone; that's too much to handle for just a paycheck.

That's what this blog is about. I'll explore various topics, continually returning to the motto I tell my son every morning. I hope it will help you live and lead more authentically and purposefully.