Massive gray and yellow clouds are billowing, filling up the sky in every direction and racing at high speed to win the cloud race. The sound of thousands of acres of blowing trees is almost deafening. Trees are bent and there are whitecaps on the water sloshing up against the dock, which is too wet for comfort. The temperature has dropped and a chill fills the air, countered by burning logs in the ancient stone fireplace of this old Adirondack lodge. The scent is heavenly as the smoke swirls and dances to merge with the clouds once it escapes the old red brick chimney. This storm is fierce, but I cannot imagine being in Hurricane Laura. My heart goes out to everyone in its path and those who have had to battle destruction at its highest level.

Looking Back

With all three kids in college now, I’m thinking about them more than ever and second-guessing the things I should have done, should have taught them. I can see, for instance, that I let them off the hook, did not work them hard enough to develop great work ethics, and yes, they are a little entitled or spoiled. That certainly was not my intention, but I can say sometimes it is just a lot easier to buy things than argue about doing the chores to earn the money. Hopefully the lessons imparted will creep into their work ethic over time. 

I now have a new appreciation for my parents and grandparents. Realizing it’s more work to make kids work than to give them everything they need.

Entitled Kids

It’s been said at certain times that we’ve raised a generation of entitled kids who have not had to work, not had to earn their way, and who want things handed to them. I’m not sure if I believe it or not. Though there certainly is some recent evidence in behavior in certain areas, I don’t want to be one of those people who say, “Kids today aren’t like kids in our day.”

Though we are all born equal in the eyes of God, there are differences that exist in each person because of their upbringing, their parents (or lack of parents), the direction given by grandparents and other family members, and even physical differences. No matter how hard I try, I’ll never be a 7-foot basketball player.

I deeply believe that we can all make opportunities. We may be unlucky at birth, but we’ve all seen even people with no mobility or massive disadvantages become super successful. We’ve seen people grow up with nothing and become billionaires or successful writers, actors, professionals, or businesspeople. 

Though I can be “Mr. Positive” and believe we think our way to success, I now believe that the primary driver of success (which is defined by everyone differently) lies in a person’s self-confidence. Thinking is one thing. Believing is what’s important.


When I was a kid my dad would tell us, “You can become anything you can imagine,” and I’ve tried to share that with my own kids. But I can remember not completely believing it. Yet thankfully, my influences believed in me and encouraged me and focused on my positive traits and never even mentioned the negative ones. Eventually, I started believing it.

People who have lifted themselves from ashes to greatness either had their own self-confidence, no matter what their influences were, or they had influences offering constant encouragement. 

Repetition is the gateway to belief.

Something for Nothing

Recently, in the car with my son, I could see the scratchings of a lottery ticket, and without being critical, I told him I don’t play the lottery — not only because I don’t believe in gambling, but because I don’t want anything handed to me. Instead I want the satisfaction and pride of having accomplished it.

A Sad Life

Years ago my friend Marvin, a member of the lucky birth club, was playing golf with me and whining about being unhappy in his role as president of his father’s company. He was making a ton of money, had a prestigious job, and was unhappy. Why? Because it was handed to him; he did not earn it. Though he would tell you he worked his way up, everyone, including him, knew that his name is what put him in the job over other qualified people. 

When he asked me what he should do, I told him I had turned down a similar offer from my own father because I wanted to know I could do it for myself. I did not want success by being born into it. I suggested he quit his job and go build his own business or get a job working for someone else so he would have the pride of knowing he could do it, but he didn’t want to be without the money. Eventually he drove the business into the ground after his father passed away and ended up destitute, and he died a miserable man. The last time I spoke to him he told me, “I remember your advice and have always wished I’d had the courage to become my own man.”

Handing things to people is of no value. There is no self-worth and no pride of accomplishment tied to things unearned.

Nothing Left

We’re living in a time when people want our money, or our house, without doing the work we do for it. I’m hopeful that won’t be my own kids. Giving in to it will create generations of future entitled people until there is no one earning or working, and there will be nothing to share. Instead of accomplished people with the pride of having done something, we will have entitled people who have no self-esteem and no initiative.

Reinforcing Self-Worth

Fortunately, parenting is never over, and I have ample opportunities to reinforce the concept of self-worth, self-accomplishment, and the idea that something for nothing is of no value. Living a life of leisure, having no purpose, not bringing value for my time, is of no interest to me.

An Old Tale

The classic story is the woman or man who rises up from nothing, works their fingers to the bone, and makes a fortune so they can do nice things for their family. Then their kids get spoiled and entitled, don’t have the work ethic, and by the third generation the family money is lost. By the fourth generation they are poor again, and the cycle begins again. It’s a cycle that needs to be broken.

A Billionaire’s Kids

I don’t know if it’s true, but a friend of Warren Buffett’s son once told me Buffett made it clear that he was leaving his children no money, and if they wanted money, they needed to make it on their own. Whether it’s true or not, it’s a brilliant idea. Sink or swim. Everyone needs to earn their own pride of accomplishment.

Tough Love

The greatest gift we can give our kids is belief in them, and helping them gain the confidence that they can do things on their own, without our help. It’s OK to nudge them along and help a little when we can, but it’s tough love that will help them have the pride of independent accomplishment. Though we will have to watch them mess up and suffer, and live through difficult times, every success on earth has had to go through that. The average billionaire goes bankrupt two times before making it.

Entitlement has destroyed family fortunes, destroyed cultures and countries, and kills initiative. On the other hand, encouragement, self-belief, and the pride of accomplishment, combined with struggle, is what makes a success. 

I’ve come to understand that success has nothing to do with money. It has to do with self-discipline, freedom, and knowing if I lost everything today, I could do it all again.

Are you feeling entitled?
Are you entitling others?
Are you instilling belief, self-confidence, in others?
Are you able to provide tough love?

At the time when we are struggling the most, we would not wish it on anyone, yet the trials and the fires make us who we are. 

Yes, anyone can do anything. It’s up to us to help them build that belief and sense of accomplishment.

Eric Rhoads

“I do NOT believe we are all born equal.

“Created equal in the eyes of God, yes, but physical and emotional differences, parental guidelines, varying environments, being in the right place at the right time, all play a role in enhancing or limiting an individual’s development.

“But I DO believe every man and woman, if given the opportunity and encouragement to recognize their potential, regardless of background, has the freedom to choose in our world.

“Will an individual be a taker or a giver in life?

“Will that person be satisfied merely to exist or seek a meaningful purpose?

“Will he or she dare to dream the impossible dream?

“I believe every person is created as the steward of his or her own destiny with great power for a specific purpose, to share with others, through service, a reverence for life in a spirit of love.”

— Hugh O’Brian, The Freedom to Choose

PS: There IS pride in accomplishing great things on your own. Though there ARE self-taught artists, we can all speed our learning with the influence of others teaching us. 

Last week I got a note from a man who watches me daily (noon ET on YouTube — search StreamlineArtVideo) who said this … “I know I want to learn to paint, I know I want to grow, and I know the approximate style, but I don’t know who to pick to study under.”
I’ll tell you what I told him.

I think workshops are a great idea, and videos are a great idea, but I’ve gone to workshops where I’ve flown across the country and spent a week with someone, only to discover they were not for me. Sometimes it was their teaching style, sometimes just a chemistry problem. That’s one of the reasons I’ve created a sampler of sorts. At Realism Live, you can study different subjects like portraits, figures, still life, flowers, landscapes, and more, and get a chance to learn from a couple of dozen top instructors. Not only will you get something out of each one, you’ll be able to select the ones you want to study with more. 

The price for Realism Live goes up $100 tonight at midnight Pacific. And it’s 100% refundable if you change your mind. Plus I offer a money-back guarantee: If you don’t love it by the end of the first day, let me know and we’ll give you your money back (though we will disconnect access). Realism Live is virtual … you participate from home on your screen. 

Check it out, and remember, the price goes up today! —