JT McCormick is the author of I Got There: How I Overcame Racism, Poverty, and Abuse to Achieve the American Dream. His book tells the story of how he worked his way out of poverty, starting with his career cleaning toilets and eventually becoming the President of multiple companies.
We asked JT, "If you could send a letter to your father, what would you say?".
The short answer: I wouldn’t say much of anything to my now-deceased father.
People ask me all the time: Would you have liked your dad to see what you’ve become, and the family you’ve created?
People are shocked by my answer:
My dad didn’t value family. He was a pimp and had 23 children of his own. He left us and went to England. He did not value family, so why would it be important for him to see or hear about my family?
I see no value in that.
Now, there is one thing I would have liked to show him…
My dad wasn’t only a pimp—he was a drug dealer, too. He always said the only difference between him and the CEO of Budweiser was that the CEO sold legal drugs (alcohol), and my dad sold illegal drugs.
I’ll always remember that.
Then recently, something amazing happened: I was featured on the cover of a magazine…right next to the current CEO of Budweiser.
That’s the one thing I would have wanted him to see, or what I would have wanted to share with him.
Other than that, I’d have nothing to say to him. He chose his life, and I chose mine. I don’t agree with his decision to leave his 23 kids and go to England, but I don’t sit now and ask myself Why? or feel the need to share anything with him in a letter.
All of the answers I’ll ever get or need are right there in his actions: he didn’t value his kids or his family, so there’s nothing of my own family I’d care to show him.
I created my own value system and beliefs, and they are obviously different from my father’s.
Everyone may not agree with my values—and that’s fine—but it’s what has worked for me. Man, some people even think I’m a lunatic when they hear I only took 11 vacation days over the course of 5 years.
That’s ridiculous, they say.
Or people hear that I had my laptop open to work in the delivery room during the birth of my children.
Many people don’t support that. Great. That’s what I did to get where I am. That’s part of my value system: there is no Success without Sacrifice.
But I can tell you one thing: I’d never leave my family to go to England or anywhere else. No chance.
So, no, I don’t have any unwritten letters for my father, and I wouldn’t feel compelled to share any part of my life with him.