Take it from Neil Patrick Harris: 'We’re complete because we’re incomplete'

PHOTO: Take It from Me featuring Neil Patrick HarrisPlayGMA Photo Illustration, Michael Ochs Archives, Kevin Mazur, Getty Images
WATCH Take it from Neil Patrick Harris: 'We’re complete because we’re incomplete'

In a series of very fortunate events, Neil Patrick Harris got his big break 30 years ago.

"I didn't ever really want to be an actor," Harris revealed to "Good Morning America." "I'm from a small town in New Mexico and I really kind of wanted to be one of those singer/dancers in a theme park review show."

PHOTO: Neil Patrick Harris is pictured in a promotional image from the ABC show, Doogie Howser, M.D., circa 1990. Walt Disney Television via Getty
Neil Patrick Harris is pictured in a promotional image from the ABC show, "Doogie Howser, M.D.," circa 1990.

Before NPH was a household name, he was "Doogie Howser M.D." Landing the title role launched his legendary career to superstar status. From hosting nearly every award show under the sun (and taking home a few awards along the way) to creating some of the most iconic characters that audiences know and love, Harris has done it all.

Now he's sharing some of the valuable pieces of advice he learned along the way.

A lot of people are caught up in this idea that who they are isn't complete, but we are complete because we're incomplete.

1. Remember to breathe.

PHOTO: Actor Neil Patrick Harris poses for a portrait on the set of Doogie Howser, M.D in 1989. Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images, FILE
Actor Neil Patrick Harris poses for a portrait on the set of " Doogie Howser, M.D" in 1989.

Harris was 16 years old when he was cast on "Doogie Howser M.D."

"My life lesson is that I learned good skills on how to act on a set," said Harris. "['Doogie Howser'] was sort of my film education."

Harris would later go on to star in multiple TV series, films and Broadway shows.

"With a little perspective I would probably tell myself to breathe," Harris said. "And to not speak like I'm inhaling helium."

2. Be grateful for the game changers.

PHOTO: Neil Patrick Harris, Cobie Smulders, Josh Radnor, Alyson Hannigan and Jason Segel of the CBS Pilot How I Met Your Mother, in 2005. Cbs Photo Archive/CBS via Getty Images, FILE
Neil Patrick Harris, Cobie Smulders, Josh Radnor, Alyson Hannigan and Jason Segel of the CBS Pilot " How I Met Your Mother," in 2005.

"Boom!" was Harris' reaction after looking at a picture from the pilot episode of "How I Met Your Mother," a game-changing role for him. NPH suited up for nearly a decade to play Barney Stinson.

"Barney Stinson was dope," said Harris. "Rarely do you have a role where you get to be the, sort of, life of the party, the guy that people want to have adventures with."

From "The Naked Man" to "The Scuba Diver" Barney Stinson had many hilarious plays to pick up women. But the advice NPH pulled from the "How I Met Your Mother" playbook was to always be grateful.

"It was a game changer financially. It was a game changer comedically," said Harris.

3. We’re complete because we’re incomplete.

PHOTO: Neil Patrick Harris and the cast of Hedwig and the Angry Inch perform onstage during the 68th Annual Tony Awards at Radio City Music Hall, June 8, 2014, in New York City. Kevin Mazur/Getty Images, FILE
Neil Patrick Harris and the cast of "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" perform onstage during the 68th Annual Tony Awards at Radio City Music Hall, June 8, 2014, in New York City.

Harris traded in his Barney Stinson suits for 6-inch heels when he took to the stage in "Hedwig and the Angry Inch." Harris, who had never done drag before and knew little about punk rock music, said the show challenged him in a myriad of ways.

Harris' performance as Hedwig earned him a Tony award for best actor in a musical but the biggest reward, he said, was what the character taught him.

"I probably took advice from Hedwig," Harris explained. "I think a lot of people are caught up in this idea that who they are isn't complete but we are complete because we're incomplete."

The generation below us is the generation that's going to be the ones to fix us.

4. Talk to your kids with respect.

PHOTO: Actor Neil Patrick Harris, Gideon Scott Burtka-Harris, Harper Grace Burtka-Harris, and actor David Burtka attend the 2017 Saks Fifth Avenue Holiday Window Unveiling at Saks Fifth Avenue on Nov. 20, 2017, in New York. Monica Schipper/Getty Images, FILE
Actor Neil Patrick Harris, Gideon Scott Burtka-Harris, Harper Grace Burtka-Harris, and actor David Burtka attend the 2017 Saks Fifth Avenue Holiday Window Unveiling at Saks Fifth Avenue on Nov. 20, 2017, in New York.

Harris has been happily married to David Burka since 2014. The couple have two (of the best-dressed) kids -- twins Harper and Gideon.

"I always suspected I'd be a family man," Harris told "GMA." "We did the surrogacy thing, which was awesome, and we tried for twins and we got twins and they're the most complicated things I've ever had to deal with."

When it comes to life lessons, Harris said he is overwhelmed by how much his 8-year-olds have taught him.

"I really appreciate that our parents talked to us like regular people and didn't talk down to us as little kids," said Harris. "I was able to interact with adults when I was younger in a way that was a level playing field, and we try to talk to our kids the same way."

5. Empower your educators.

PHOTO: Neil Patrick Harris poses for a photo at the Quaker Chewy food truck in New York, Sept. 4, 2019. Michael Simon/www.Startraksphoto.com for Quaker
Neil Patrick Harris poses for a photo at the Quaker Chewy food truck in New York, Sept. 4, 2019.

Speaking of the importance of treating your kids with respect, Harris believes the same respect must be paid to teachers. That's why Harris partnered with Quaker Chewy this back-to-school season to help empower teachers.

"As a parent this partnership is important to me because our kids right now have just started the third grade," said Harris. "So I'm very aware and interested in who's teaching them and how they're teaching them."

Through the month of September, Quaker is donating up to $250,000 to AdoptAClassroom.org to benefit schools in need. As a parent with young children, Harris said it's an initiative that's important to him and his family.

"The generation below us is the generation that's going to be the ones to fix us," said Harris. "We need to make sure that teachers are recognized and empowered to teach well."

Harris might not be a grade school teacher, but we certainly learned a lot from his journey as an actor, comedian and most importantly, a parent.