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Positively Speaking: Paying tribute to my father

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By Toby Moore

For Capital Region Independent Media

Headshot of man named Toby Moore
Toby Moore

Father’s Day has already passed, but I wanted to share with you a letter that my father, Gary W. Moore, the founder of this column, wrote to me when I was a senior in high school.

He was an incredibly positive, energetic and loving individual. Defined by his aspirations rather than his past, he consistently set his sights on new goals and frequently achieved them.

During my high school years, I wanted to be an Olympic swimmer, but I soon realized it wouldn’t happen and began to make excuses. Once I realized I wouldn’t make it as an Olympic swimmer, I no longer took it as seriously. One night I told him this and so he wrote me this letter:

***

Dear Toby,

My life has been full of success and failure. I never see failure as failure; I see it as “I found one more way that doesn’t work.”

The only failure in life is giving up, not trying to begin with, and selling yourself short.  

In my eyes, you are a champion. In your eyes, what are you? I realized last night that I believe in you more than you do. The problem is, what I think doesn’t matter; only what you believe counts.

I want to help you understand that it is not the time on the watch or the order of finish that counts. What does matter is the effort, the planning, the goals, and the enthusiasm.

It is not what you get from the above but what you become in the process. I see a champion when I look at you; you see something else.

We constantly work towards what we believe will happen. You do not believe in yourself. Therefore, you do not take what you work so hard for seriously enough to make the champion within you stand up and go forward.

Last night you said, “I don’t like to compete because I’m not getting any faster.” Life is a self-fulfilling prophecy, and what you feel and what you say, how you act, and what you expect usually comes true.

It doesn’t matter what I say and think about it; it only matters what you say and think. 

Soon you’ll be 19 years old. Your mother and I pledged to do whatever it takes to help you achieve your dreams. We’ve done all we can, and it’s time for us to trust that you will do what’s best for you.

I can’t watch you work hard and then when it’s time to do what you’ve worked for, not take it seriously.

I love you more than you can imagine, so I must tell you how I feel and think. You don’t take the important things seriously because you’re afraid of failure.

If you are deadly serious and do poorly, you fear how you will look in front of your friends.

If you’re not that into it, that’s an excuse; if you didn’t try hard, that’s another excuse. If you laugh, joke and goof around, others will not expect you to perform well, and you won’t let anyone down except yourself.

To be truly good at something, you must respect the activity, and you must respect yourself. You must want to lead the pack, not just be content with being part of the pack.

My concern is not that you become a great swimmer; my concern is for you to become a great person. The habits that shape success, failure, work ethic and leadership must start taking form now.

What you do today will affect the rest of your life. Don’t goof around and make excuses. Be serious; focus on the task; even if you fail, you’ve given it your all.

Will you be positive or negative? Will you have faith or a lack of faith?

Don’t worry about the time on the watch; do your best, no matter where you finish; I will be proud.

***

Now, with the wisdom of years and experience, I can see how profound my father’s words were. Each year, his message resonates deeper; as I pursue my dreams, I wholeheartedly embrace his advice to give my all, ensuring I can always say I did my best.

Thank you, Dad.

Toby Moore is a columnist, the star of Emmy-nominated “A Separate Peace,” and the CEO of Cubestream Inc.

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