My oldest kid, Reece, came home to visit us for about a week. He is 20 and living in Nashville to pursue his dream, a career in music. And at the risk of sounding like the proud dad, he is pretty damn good…

But “pretty damn good” in Nashville puts you in a wide range of company, it is Music City after all. Reece has decided to delay (read not ever go to) college to give music a shot. He had a scholarship to the songwriting program at Belmont University in Nashville but two weeks before the start of school he told us he wasn’t going.

And we supported him 100%, and the reason why?  Because he earned the right to make that decision about his life. Reece was always driven and successful in just about everything he tried. Always rose to the leadership roles in every group he was a part of… he outworked EVERYONE. Every single time.

In fact, he is the hardest working person I know. We have never pushed him… we didn’t have to. In fact what we had to do was dial him back at times. He held himself to a standard I wouldn’t dare attempt for me, or anyone. So he earned the right to say “I don’t want to go to college…”

And he could have gone anywhere. Top of his class in an elite private school with a 4.33 GPA. Perfect 1600 SAT’s. Presidential Scholars Award by the White House…could have gone anywhere!

So why in the world did we agree to let him pursue his dream instead of college? Because he earned the right.

I could go on and on about the waning value of higher education for most professions. I could give you 10 or 50 or 100 reasons why I have become disenchanted with the idea of college being for everyone… but none of that matters here.

What matters is he put in the work, he proved his drive and dedication, and he earned the right to make the choice.

In my opinion our world has changed dramatically… and some of us (older adults) are not evolving with it. We are using 30 year old ideas in raising kids who today live in a hyper-connected world. We are putting the pressures on them that we had as kids and not fully accounting for them being wildly over-scheduled, pressured and connected 24/7.

I only share to give perspective, and for maybe a few of you “permission” to buck the trend. Trust your instincts, trust the example you are setting, trust your ability to support those around you. Be willing to risk the questioning by or ridicule of those that think it is “irresponsible” and remember what being risky and bold (even irresponsible) before has gotten you. For many of us as entrepreneurs out of the box decisions have driven our success!

Our world has changed, our kids have changed, and I am encouraged to say I was able to change. I couldn’t have imagined 10 years ago having the mindset I do today but I am really glad that I do. It’s helped me to be a better father, partner, leader and entrepreneur

P.S. Here is a shameless plug if you’re interested in checking out Reece, Reece Ratliff.


Founder of the align5 Companies,  CEO of Scaling Up Coaches, and Serial Entrepreneur

Did you enjoy this content?  Click below to subscribe to John’s Blog!

Subscribe to John’s Blog