My father was a man who lived his dreams large.
In 1955, he bought what was a marina on 6 acres in the Montreal suburb of Rosemère.
In honor of the deepest love of his life, he built a colonial mansion right out of “Gone With the Wind”
He built a business crafting women’s shoes from a small run of 55 pairs per day to more than one thousand.
Many times he remembered being laughed at for being the “chubby Scotsman making Italian quality shoes in Canada.
Then he drew the attention of Coco Chanel and Roland Jordan. His reputation for acumen and fairness preceded him in the world of business.
But long before the accolades began, he told me the story of showing up at the bank to open this first commercial account and found himself without a cent to make the initial deposit to open the account. The manager at the time, Mr. Russ Scrim, looked at him and smiled, reached into his pocket and handed him a fiver with the words:
“Something tells me I will see a return”
Think that happens often in today’s banking world?
We are so caught up with protecting ourselves on to walk, covering our ass or acquiring some participation awards, that the ability to judge risk versus reward (common sense/intuition) that grows from vulnerability, is an talent that has atrophied within our society from lack of practice.
We claim to admire those who reach and strive for excellence but often those are the first at whom we smirk.
“Hang with the ‘winners‘ ” we are told.
When did failure and having nothing become such a leprosy-like condition?
Why, when people need us the most, do we trust their experience (good or bad) the least?
It is precisely at that moment that the wisest among us demonstrate the ability to discern between shame and guilt.
Do they have past evidence of moral corruption (shame) or did they make a bad choice (guilt).
When businesses come to an end we all too often look to blame and almost always the fault is associated with one single strategic error made by the leadership even in the wake of years of sage choices.
Rarely do the pundits, academics or bureaucrats even recognize let alone applaud the “failed” entrepreneur for swinging for the bleachers or finding themselves following an outdated business model right to the last gasp of financial life.
True Entrepreneurs by nature – risk it all.
And just like Mufassa and Simba that’s just how life rolls.
To accept that is to “accept life on life’s terms”
But it ain’t easy as we are surrounded mostly by images of everyone’s best moments!
Happy laughing pictures of well suited smiling people eating fabulous meals driving badass cars to the world’s most beautiful panoramas.
And photoshop fucks with our ability to see life as it really is and to forgive ourselves for our losses.
I, for one, have experienced the challenge of forgiving myself for a past I wish could have been different.
One evening, my daughter Morgan and I were exchanging on self forgiveness:
“ I just don’t know how to do it without feeling lame… like I am excusing myself for messing up and setting a precedent for future excuses” I shared
” Ya, I get that” she replied.
“I struggled with the same thing and then I shifted the focus.
I found the concept of self-forgiveness so dauntingly lame that I couldn’t wrap my head around it until I broke it down.
I have to take it in steps.
Firstly, I have to acknowledge that from today’s perspective, yesterday’s problems look so easy to solve.
Then step two is to try to recognize how the ‘wrong’ outcome (in my view) actually serves me in my pursuit of trying to be a better version of me.
Finally, I have to make the conscious choice to accept that I have learned more from the knocks and bumps than I have from my nicest teachers, and forgive myself.
Placed in three simple steps, even I am able to digest and begin to practice self forgiveness – funny how the second gen freed me.
The end result is that with my hands less filled with obsessively trying to undo the past, I now have my arms outstretched and my hands free to reach for the best I can be with what I know today.
Yes, one’s reputation, which of course is based on the past, is often all that some look at. Further, there are even those who deliberately poke at the scar tissue of our past in a sick attempt to exercise control over us through our past pain. But are these the most enlightened amongst us? And a better question – Why do we allow them around us?
Expressed in today’s vernacular:
” Haters gonna hate”
That’s just what they do.
In my world, I would rather reach. Receiving the participation award and the experience of a pristine life played safe at the cost of never experiencing the self-confidence of recovery and rebuilding from nothing is far less appealing to me.
And as far as the haters go?
Well, the way my dad raised me …
” Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn“