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It’s been said you can always tell the winners in a race from the starting blocks. And although that’s not an absolute, it’s mostly so. When you add the foundation of preparation and hard work, it’a pretty much true.

However, too often, we older folks (yes, I’m one of those “older folks”!) criticize the faults of young people without acknowledging their good. We can sound like grumpy neighbors constantly berating the kids who just want to have fun before the lights come on.

“Pull them damn pants up?!”

“Turn that frigging music down! I can feel the bass in my balls!”

“Get off my lawn!”

However, there are legitimate reasons to lend this younger generation the benefit of our experiences. After all, we’ve probably already made similar mistakes along the way. We couldn’t just Google it. We had to learn by doing.

And we lose credibility by never pointing out the good they do. They need to know they’ve already built a foundation for success. Instead of only finding fault, we need to support them and give constructive criticism.

Sadly, how often do we do that? Not nearly enough.

Among the young people today–just like in other generations–there are those less-than-shiny apples. Even bad ones. But when you get past that, there are also many diamonds that glisten in the light.

On June 21, 2016, my sister Dianna’s oldest son will graduate from Kearny High School in San Diego, California. My nephew, Sevean Brown-Giles will soon be making his move on to college.

Like my sister, he’s been very independent and a free spirit from the start. He always believed in being himself and in trying new things.

In his early teens, he had ambitions of one day becoming a comic book artist. He’s still quite talented in graphic design and his creativity has been ever present. He’s sold everything from his own custom t-shirts to custom painted athletic shoes.

I’m so proud of him. And I’m proud of my sister for nurturing him along. She’s quite a bit of a risk-taker and free spirit herself, having started quite a number of her own business endeavors. Having such a mother as an example is what has driven him to be different since he came into this world. I hope he stays that way. The “odd” ones are the folks who blaze the trails others.

So, today I will a proud uncle standing among all of the other proud members of my family. Of course, no one will be prouder than his mom.

To my nephew, I’d like to say, “Today,  Sevean, you’re a man. No longer a little boy. Your future has begun. Now, get out there and show us what we all know you can do!”