Life Lessons I Learned from My Grandfather

Katherine Goulart and Tony Goulart

My father’s father, Tony Goulart, taught me what to look for in this life. He radiated a very clear spark that anyone could see in him. He is pictured here with his wife, my grandmother, Katherine.


In contrast, I saw many other people throughout my life who seemed to have “lost their spark,” so to speak, as the years passed. I wanted different dreams for myself that would enable me to feel truly alive. I did not want to lose my spark.

Tony Goulart was an immigrant from the Azores Islands in the North Atlantic. When he was a child, he entered the United States by way of Ellis Island with my great-grandfather. My grandfather was an adventurous man. I grew to admire him for that. His life spanned nearly 80 years, most of which were spent in Central California.

He earned his personal wealth from real estate holdings, but he saw himself as a rancher and a fisherman. Crops of vegetables were grown on his land and then harvested by farm workers. He also raised livestock over most of his life.

My grandfather went fishing on the Pacific Ocean for recreation and relaxation but fishing also was a way to put food on our table. During my preteen years my entire family accompanied my grandfather up to Humboldt County in Northern California for salmon fishing.

My grandfather, my father, and his brother would all go salmon fishing and then bring back the catch of the day to the campground near the ocean where we had our vacation trailers parked. Apparently, I was not destined to be a fisherman. I was too young to go out on the ocean with the grown men and participate in what I guessed were some secret rituals to capture fish.

I always had a vivid imagination. Instead of bravely facing the adventures I imagined were out there on the sea, I stayed on the shore. There I played cowboys and soldiers with other boys my age as we used pretend guns that we fashioned out of tree branches to enable our pretend violence.

I developed a deep respect for my grandfather with his odd combination of careers as a rancher and a fisherman. Much of the admiration I felt for him came from witnessing how hard he worked. As he grew older, Tony Goulart diminished his direct involvement in ranching and instead chose to focus on spending time out on the ocean.

My grandfather was a man who did what he wanted after he saw it in his mind. He never showed any signs that he dreamed about the traditional United States concept of quietly growing older and retiring. He died peacefully out on the Pacific Ocean while fishing in a small boat.

I grew up within a very different social environment compared to my grandfather. My generation came to appreciate living longer compared to people from previous centuries. But, few people I knew had any plans for what to do with those “extra years.”

I learned many life lessons growing up that guide me today in my professional coaching. Today I offer coaching and training services to individuals to make time work for them each day instead of worrying that time is running away too fast.

We live in the present era with amazing technology and advances in personal comforts that would have seemed to us when we were kids like they come from science fiction. Yet, much of what my generation learned from school and society has conditioned us to abide by yesterday’s predictable patterns in life. Such patterns include the opinion that once you reach a “certain age,” you should stop working for a living and just relax in leisure activities.

You put in your time at work. Maybe you changed jobs once or twice. Mainly, you put in your time. I know that’s what I did. After all those years, did I feel happier? No, I did not.

Today I coach and train individuals not to expect to retire from the world of work someday but instead to aim for a  restart. In very simple terms, here it is: Restart versus retire.

I have restarted my life and career several times. I would never recommend something unless I had tried it personally. Initially I was a radio broadcaster working in Hollywood. Then, I got my master’s degree and doctoral degree and worked as a university professor. I transitioned into a career in new technology in what we now call the broadband industry. Then, I was fortunate to work in Washington, DC in a leadership role in coaching executive communication.

All my multiple restarts were made possible because of what I held in my mind as possible for me. Most of us came up through the world of work similarly. We consistently paid part of our wages into the federal Social Security program. Why? Well, tax laws give us little choice. But, mostly, we all bought into the American dream. That’s what I did. That’s what most people do.

For years it seemed to be a comforting dream to embrace. Like many other, I saw myself in the future with grey hair and wisdom. I can report that I acquired grey hair, lots of grey hair.

What about wisdom? Not sure if I would label it like that. But, I grew up to believe that a person’s mental equivalent tends to propel them towards the destiny that their mind envisions. How you picture the way your life is going, and, how you picture the way your life will go are both crucially important. The life that you picture in your mind makes all the difference in your happiness each day that you are alive.

That’s what my coaching and training of individuals does. I show individuals how the pictures they keep in their mind can keep them feeling good about their life experiences.

This is not magic. It’s practical. It all starts when people discover the proven ways to keep how they picture their life working for them instead of being angry every day and blaming others constantly. The simple trick in this is to take control over what you picture in your mind each day to attract happiness in your life and ward off unhappiness.

So, you want to learn life’s secrets? Okay, fair enough. I can tell you that you may find it when you start with a fresh focus upon the space between your ears.

How we each come across in life is directly connected to our self-image. We each should take specific actions to align self-image with how we would like to appear to others in the physical world. There is no reason for anyone to allow a self-image inside their mind to be left to chance or accident. But, learning how to take control of your mind’s image of yourself is not really a secret at all.

Almost anyone can learn the core truth about this life that I embrace today: The inner you powers the outer you.

At the heart of my coaching is a simple concept that some people never master. I guide you to arrive at a point when you work with your mind and use it rather than allowing your mind to work against you and use you up.

I will never promise that you can “live happily ever after” as the fables of our youth made us all hope for. But, I will show you if you take advantage of my coaching and training services for individuals how your happiness in life is within reach starting with what you picture in your mind each day. But, this is only for people who want to keep their spark in life. Only if you are ready to take the next step to empower yourself with your own mental picture of your future should you click this link now.