Rules to Help You Be Great

My Dad gave us a simple rule: consider how to make things better.

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres on our open platform. We publish pieces as written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team and must meet our guidelines prior to being published.

I grew up in a large Italian family. In an effort to help each of the 6 kids in the family find their way successfully in life, my dad managed our house with lots of rules.

We had rules for homework, chores and how to treat people. We had rules about sharing, behaving and speaking to adults. We had rules about being productive, focused and intentional in our actions.

Regardless of the sound motivation, I didn’t completely appreciate the rules – all except for one. One of my Dad’s rules effectively guided each of my 5 siblings more than any of the others. It was so wise that it finds its way into all of my work as coach, educator and speaker.

Dad’s best rule was this: when you come down the stairs in the morning, pay attention to the things in front of you. Be intentional in stopping and noticing everything around you – the people, the things, the events – everything. Then, based on whatever you noticed, ask yourself , “What can I do to make this better?” And then we were told to pause long enough to consider something to do and – here’s the important part – go do it.

I saw how proud he was as he watched each of us make a concerted effort to be more present to our world and take ownership for improving the parts of the world we touched. That, of course, helped each of us start to discover, develop and live our abilities, passions and values. It helped us learn how to be accountable and responsive, to take responsibility for our place in the world with a commitment to always make it better. Though I never learned why this became one of his rules, I do remember him actively living it the way he trained and expected us to do the same.

My dad passed a few years ago, but my siblings and I continue this “rule” more than any of the others. In the middle of today’s challenging times, we all still get out of bed each morning, look around and ask, “What could I do to make this better?” And then we try to do it. Some days are more successful than others, but each day starts with the right motivation.

It has become part of who my siblings and I are, and now as a coach, educator and parent, it serves as my motivation to teach others to stop, notice then consider ways to make things better.

Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

You might also like...


“A good parent is living in the moment.” With Sofia Fenichell

by Dr. Ely Weinschneider, Psy.D.

You’re Fired!

by Patrick 'Mad' Mork

How to Take Financial Responsibility in a Time of Crisis

by Ryan Sterling

Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

Thrive Global
People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.


We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.