30 May Only as much as you can handle.
My mother worked as the Assistant Director at a Daycare for about 25 years. It became clear to me that she has a gift with children, and also a passion for them. My family believes that kids are treasured resources, and of course, with my mother’s career I was exposed to many rearing lessons, methods, and teachings. One that I remember which especially impacted my world view, was shared by Barbara Coloroso, who is an ‘internationally recognized speaker and author in the areas of parenting, teaching, school discipline, non-violent conflict resolution and reconciliatory justice.’ (http://www.kidsareworthit.com/)
I may not have the story absolutely correct, so forgive me, but it is worth telling either way. The story goes like this…a Father and daughter were travelling on a train and they had luggage to carry. The daughter was small, likely not more than five years old. The Father, as expected, was carrying the luggage as they headed for the train, and the small child asked if she could carry her own suitcase. It was visibly too large and too heavy for her to manage, so her Father said ‘no dear, but thank you, I will carry this for you until you are big enough to carry it yourself. If I let you carry it now, it would be difficult and may hurt you. When you are bigger you can carry your own baggage.’
This story had a lasting impact on me when I realized that my parents had carried my luggage and a lot of life circumstances as I grew, but the story returned to my memory when I became a stepparent, and again this past weekend when I thought about my journey as an entrepreneur. What has always stuck with me was that in the best scenario, we only carry what we can manage at that time. That is not necessarily how it is for everyone, or anyone all of the time. But it’s a great approach.
Here’s the thing, as a stepparent, which is something I never dreamed I’d be, you adopt children into your lives at whatever age they are when you make that commitment, so they could be small, teenaged, or adults. You don’t necessarily get the opportunity to grow with them, you are placed in a position of great expectation, and let me assure you, everyone is watching. I know that I was, and remain, up for the task of being a stepparent. I had been heavily involved with my sister’s four children from birth; so accepting that role was not overwhelming for me. In fact, I was happy to take it on, all of it, the good, the hard, the great, the challenging. And I still am. I know that all of the things in life that led me to a place to accept being a stepparent prepared me to carry my own, and their luggage.
Now, in reference to entrepreneurship – when I was recently speaking with a fellow entrepreneur I shared with her some news of how I am part of a large initiative, one I could never have seen myself tackling three years ago. But, that I can also see clearly how my company grew through different projects and stages, and essentially, matured to accept the challenge of this upcoming project. We are in fact, able to carry our own luggage. Not to say that we may not find it heavy or cumbersome at points, but we are in a great position to try, and hopefully, succeed. Our growth and our project growth has been manageable, not easy, but manageable.
In order to get to this place of preparedness, we have experienced setbacks, lost bids, and other challenges. The hindsight is that those business lessons and learning’s have actually helped us today – helped us to be in this favourable position.
My point is that life, parenting, and business, are all about building a foundation that will provide you with strength, aptitude, and ability, when you are facing some big luggage. Our foundations are built on friendships, partnerships, marriages, and faith. Our foundations are fortified from challenges, losses, grief, defeats, successes, and victories.
If I can offer you anything today, I would like you to know that whatever it is you are facing, something has brought you to this point, and even if you don’t feel like you are ready – chances are good you have what you need – built on what you have already experienced – because your luggage awaits.