I’ve had a ton of interesting experiences in my life, and some, where I made wrong choices and had to do things over or I made them harder than they probably needed to be. I hardly looked at the choices I was making, how I was reacting to them, and where I could improve. Unlike Sherlock Holmes, I wish I had laid the pieces out and tried to fit them together to unlock the mystery.
Then I hit what I have affectionately called my “Renaissance Period” in my early 30s.
It has been a journey of deep learning and discovery filled with eye-opening lessons and revelations that have helped alter my path and set me on a more meaningful course for my life.
As I reflected and thought of the impression I wanted to make on the world, I was reminded of my grandmother, Nana Ro, as I called her. She was my everything and she taught me so many very subtle lessons that I didn’t realize until much later. She had been through a lot. She had witnessed pain. When she was in her mid-20’s and with two toddlers at home, the love of her life and father to her boys got killed in a car accident. She didn’t find out until a day later.
She had several miscarriages later in life, worked 3rd shift to make ends meet, and raised five children along the way. She deserved to take a break every once in a while. She deserved to get waited on like a Queen. But she never once complained about it. She was the epitome of servant-leadership.
For the years I knew her it was extremely rare for her to do anything first or for herself, especially when her grandkids were around.
She cooked dinner, we ate first.
We wanted to watch a TV show, she turned the channel.
She cooked Christmas cookies, we always ate them first (and found her hidden spot in the downstairs freezer and raided that as well)
I wish I realized this all in my younger years. It wasn’t until this Renaissance Period and deep reflection that I realized (very luckily) that some of this rubbed off on me and a whole bunch more of it needed to be refined. It took some work to iron out the learnings and apply them to my life. But here’s what I came up with. Simply put like Nana Ro would have done.
Feed others first that otherwise can’t feed themselves.
Translation – Many people, to no fault of their own, have a narrow view of the world, business, new technology, etc. and you have the opportunity to be the guide of information for them to open up a new way of thinking. You can help people help themselves by feeding their minds with creative ways of solving a problem or simply suggesting to them to ask the correct question to themselves to gain a new lens on the same situation. You need to do it with honesty and humility, however, as this is the way for people to start buying into those ideas but you have to let people be the hero of their own story and you are just the guide to get them to their destination.
Don’t be so polished and lighten the room up
Let the ego go! Nobody wants or needs the hard-ass and it doesn’t go over well anymore. I’m not saying to not be professional especially in business environments but try to be “business casual” in your encounters with most people. They’re human just like you and do you think they are as happy as they seem or don’t have 15 other things on their mind or even want to be at this particular job? So lighten up the room, have fun, be personable. It not only differentiates you from almost everyone else but you get more out of people that way. Being yourself builds trust and respect much quicker than putting on “a show”. Trust me, people can see right through the charade. Just stop it!
Bring a smile to everyone you encounter
Smile more often. Take the glass-half-full approach to life. There are a lot of bad times and challenging situations but you have a choice to make each and every day. You decide on the attitude you’re taking into your family life, your business, your workouts, and everything else that matters to you. Even though things may not be perfect, be the strong one that others can use for inspiration. I know it can be hard but looking at life through the positive lens ends up making it much easier and manageable. You somehow can breathe a bit more freely. The storm clouds seem to pass and the days just appear brighter. Trust me, it works, because I’ve tried it both ways.
Although I narrowed down to three bite-sized chunks, I learned so much from Nana Ro that I can’t put in one article. Some stuff I am still uncovering periodically as I reminisce about my childhood and the time I was lucky to spend with her.
I miss my Nana Ro very much. She passed away in the Spring of 2019 and I think about her often. I think about her kindness and the love she projected out into the world and hope she’d be proud of my mission and the impact I am trying to make on the world.
I’d like to think it’d make her smile.