After asking lots of people to agonise over writing their own 500 word letter, I have decided to write to my three wonderful children about the role of character and how character and success aren’t so black and whitely linked together. I hope you enjoy my letter.

Dear Anya, Jess & Caleb

“Don’t take too long, no one likes the old bugger” said the relative of the man whose funeral I was going to take. He had a list of “successes”, but in those closing moments of his life people had little good to say about him. They thought he was a muppet.

You’ve heard me say (as have thousands of parents) that character is key to fueling success.

I’m sorry, as I’ve only told you half the story. 

You can be a total muppet and successful! You can make it to the top without a character who values other people or your own well-being, UK sports teams (governments, churches and industry) are littered with such folk. 

I’ve had the privilege to work with top sports stars, coaches, teachers, talent developers, physios and sports psychologists. Many are wonderful people, some are not. Their character was lacking, their success was not. 

So does this mean I’ve overinflated the role of character and its link to success? NO!

I’m more passionate than ever that the lifelong growth of good character supports your success, it’s just that character is not a magic wand or guarantee of worldly success. Character helps you see there is more to life than success. 

My favorite quote from these #500-word letters comes from Dr Susie Brown. 

You will be capable of greatness and yet sometimes the most difficult and daring thing for you to do will be to lead an ordinary life.”

You three amaze me, with your differences and similarities. I could not be more proud of who you are as people and who you are growing into. I see your character in those ordinary moments and it thrills me. The things you do for others and yourself. The way you support those you care for and attempt to make it right when the inevitable tensions in relationships come. Growing your character in these ordinary moments will give you the foundation for enabling life to be more than about success and failure. 

There will be muppets around you all the way, (and sometimes you will be a muppet).  These muppets and your success will apply unseen pressure to who you are. A pressure which will manifest a challenging clarification of your character. The wisdom you gain from this pressure is what will help you be great people, partners, employers, employees and ambassadors of our faith. These will be the stories you will share with your children as you help them grow their own character.  

So at my funeral, tell the stories of when I was a muppet. Tell those stories about the ways we made you do ordinary things like chores, no-screen Saturdays, family walks and our camping trips. Tell those stories because it was then that I most enjoyed seeing the fruit of my parenting, the growth of your amazing characters in the ordinary. Share how I knew that these foundation stones will be a lifelong companion in the successes and challenges of life. 

Having three lively and energetic children has taught me I’m not a perfect dad!

But I do have a background steeped in delivering high quality and successful support to organisations and parents enabling them to work effectively together for the best outcomes of the children.

I am not perfect as a parent, but I am pretty good at taking the opportunities which sport offers to build character which leads to success on and off the sports field.  This is the gift I offer other parents and their children.

Below are some of the things I have been involved with and my qualifications.



Twitter: Richard Shorter-Sport Conversation Architect (@nonperfectdad) / Twitter

Instagram: @Nonperfectdad

LinkedIn: (11) Richard Shorter | LinkedIn

Youtube Channel: Non-perfect Dad – YouTube