I was sitting across the table from my grandfather at my Cousin Michael’s graduation. I was a year behind Michael, and my grandparents flew out for Michael’s big day. As we sat at this dinner, my grandfather looked at my father and said, “Thom is never going to grow up and do anything, he is going to be your greatest disappointment.”
My father did not argue and I left the table.
My grandfather did not show up for my graduation, but in my mind his presence was not needed: I was the great failure in his eyes. A few years later my grandfather passed away.
I have been haunted by that ghost for almost 30 years.
I was thinking about this on my bike ride to my “Brick and Mortar:” Evaluating my life as I usually do. I realized my grandfather made a prediction - even though he thought it an off handed comment. I made it his prophecy come true, but only for what he would deem a success.
My grandfather built K-Marts across the country. He moved to city, built a K-Mart, and then moved to another city. He was a successful contractor - he had money, drove nice cars and was a feared and mostly respected boss. However, the love from people around him - including from his family - could not fill a thimble. He was a hard man, a disciplined man and focused like none I had ever seen before, but when it came to love: he was bankrupt.
I got married young, my wife and I have been married 28 years, and we have five wonderful children and two grandsons and a granddaughter on the way. I am greeted with a hug from each of my three oldest children (hugged sometimes from my two teenagers at home) and my grandkids smile when they say, “Hi Papa.” I might not have a lot of money, I might not have property and my resume might look like a who’s who of desperate employers; I have love.
I am a rich man, because of my blessings. I might not be the captain of industry or travel from town to town building shopping malls, but when people see me, they smile and say hello.
What is important to you? What do you deem a success? Are you basing your life on what others have said, done or what they deem important?
When you can shed those shackles, you can really be free. If money is your greatest reward, and you have money - I am happy for you, because you have made it. If you define your success with something less tangible, than you are the only one that can evaluate your own worth.
For those that say, ”hugs will not put bread on the table,” and “working as a writer when it is clinch time is tough,” and “when you have a deadline it is very hard, and a smile will not satiate your boss:” You are very right. I didn't say I didn’t work. Working is necessary; my life has work in it - just like everyone else. I know what drives me, But what drives you?