Mayor Mack's Lobo Letter: January

Thu Mar 31, 2016
Dear Lobos,

What an exciting time this is for you. I remember my time as a student at Longview schools with fondness. Graduating in 1978, times were very different than they are for you guys. There have been so many changes in the world since then, but yet so many things are still the same. 

When I was in school, there were no cell phones, computers, iPads, Kindles, Chromebooks, Macbooks, or video games. We had to find and make our own entertainment. We had to use a landline telephone – or drive, walk and ride our bike to our friend’s house if we wanted to see them. Our circle of friends was confined to our neighborhood or whatever extracurricular activity we were involved in with that same group of friends. But we only saw our friends when we were all together focused on that specific activity. Boy, have things changed.

You all face a different set of circumstances that I don’t know how I would have handled at your age. With instant access to friends through – Facetime, Facebook, SnapChat, Instagram and who knows what else – you guys have so much more information – both good and bad – than my group of friends ever did. With this increased technology comes a huge increase in responsibility in how to treat others; both in life and on social media. Also, realizing that when you put things out on social media, they are there forever and simply hitting the delete button doesn’t erase that information. Remember this when you go looking for a job in the future – it’s all fair game. I don’t know how well I would have handled growing up in your day and age.

But even with all the changes in life, there are many things that stay the same. Recently, someone asked me what I thought were the keys to helping our young people be successful. While this list is not all-inclusive, a few things came to mind and I thought this column was the perfect place to share it with you. So, here goes:

•     Be careful with changing who you are. There are times when change is good. Improving yourself when you see shortcomings or areas in which you can learn is a good thing. But changing yourself depending on who you are with – like a chameleon – is never good. Know who you are – and make yourself better.

•     Focus on goals and find a direction in which to go. A recent article that I read stated that people who write down their goals have an income equal to 6 times greater than those who do not write down their goals. Yes, SIX TIMES THE INCOME – just for writing down your goals.

•     Don’t lose your conscience. This is a God-Given gift – use it. Listen to it. Adhere to it.

•     You must formulate a plan. Some of you will enter the workforce soon. Some of you will continue your education by learning a skill or trade. Some will pursue a secondary education. Whatever your future holds – it is important. Because when you fail to plan, you can plan on failing.

•     Give back to your community. Whether that community is your church, your school, your family, your neighbor. Look for opportunities to serve and they will find you.

So, where I am going with this… success isn’t given, success is earned. There is no better time to start earning it, than right now. When you set your mind to doing something, anything is achievable. But once again, nothing in life that is good is free.

When I was growing up, I never would have imagined that many of my patients are my former teachers and classmates. I am so thankful that there were people in my life that stressed to me the importance of never burning a bridge. Because one day you may have to walk back over that bridge. Trust me on this one, the world is not as big as you think it is. Your past will always come back to you.

My hope for each one of you is that you will set goals. That you will respect yourselves and others. That you will seek opportunities to give to others beyond yourself. That you will be successful – and define success in your mind – not in the eyes of someone else. Enjoy life, but don’t take anything for granted. Life is sacred and fragile. Choices that you make ALWAYS have consequences.

Study hard, have some fun and say your prayers,

— Dr. Andy Mack is a 1978 graduate of Longview High School. A maxillofacial surgeon for more than 25 years, he is currently owner-operator of East Texas Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery in Longview.