Thursday, November 20, 2008

A Father's Proudest Moment

If you click on the link in the title to this entry you'll witness a very real interview in Crain's Chicago Business Today by Chris Gardner founder of Gardner Rich & Co. I had the opportunity to read his autobiography a while back "Pursuit of Happyness" which was subsequently made into a Hollywood movie. But that is beside the point. When I read his autobiography- what struck me about his writing was how real a person he is, how candid his approach, very unassuming.

Here is a man who from his very humble beginnings and multiple trials and tribulations- could have folded his arms a long time ago and said "that's it". The funny thing is that the world would not have missed a beat. You know why? Because all around you- as a minority in America- people expect you to fail. They expect you not to be able to make it. So you have to do things just a bit better than your contemporaries. Average is NOT good enough.

In his short video- Gardner touches briefly upon his life's learnings of starting his own business from very humble begginings to his proudest moment the graduation of his child from college. The symbolism of this moment happens on many levels. It is the education, that is the symbolic accomplishment.

The first child to graduate from college. Something I can relate to. I clearly remember the pride in my parent's and grandparents eyes as we walke up Michigan Ave. to the theater in which my graduation was being held. It seemed like the pictures were endless. They savored the moment. The first grandchild (out of seventeen grandchildren) to graduate from college. A full life ahead of him.

It doesn't take much to look around and find the various success stories from the inner-city in business, sports, politics. There are successful persons of color in every walk of life. As a parent- it is our mission to point these out to our children every step of the way. It's important to share these successes and celebrate them with our kids. All the while, keeping them grounded in reality and helping them to remember from where they came. Teaching them to give back to the community from where they originated.

There is a social syndrome of rise and fall that seems to play itself out in every other generation of immigrants who arrive in this country. One generation arrives, full of the 'American Dream', the next lives off the 'fat' of the previous generation. The entrapments of wealth as you may. Only to correct the inbalance in their offspring. It's cyclical, much like everything in this world. Much like our natural surroundings, a balance is sought and eventually arrives sometimes in the later generation- but it arrives.

As a parent, I'm constantly confronted with this. Will the toys they got for christmas spoil them. Is it too much? The never ending struggle to keep them grounded. Yes it starts at a very young age. As parents, we owe it to our children. I'll do my part. Will you? That is where the true pride is.

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