I’ve learned to be independent from a very early age, partially the result of being the youngest of three, the only son of two hard working parents, and the existence of a spirited demeanor. I was slightly afforded some liberties as well. My sister would alternatively describe this as “spoiled.”
I was often left home alone in a locale primarily situated in a major suburban NJ area. It was in close proximity to major roadway systems, shopping districts, universities, and I had access to public transportation. Looking back, it’s hard to justify why I rarely found the library as a kid.
With this independence came adventure, opportunity, diversity, adversity, change, responsibility, risk, accountability and often trouble! It’s interesting how one could be very dependent as a child yet thrived at the level of independence that I did.
Fast-forwarding a bit, I’m a grateful son and brother, an honored husband of 20 years, and proud father of eleven (11) children. Ten (10) of my children were adopted in their later childhood years from orphanages in Russia and Guatemala. I’m career minded, spiritually grounded, and philanthropically motivated. I’ve worked for many, been educated and inspired by many, met many and helped many.
As I reflect on THEN and NOW, it’s hard not to draw upon some commonalities between my childhood and adulthood, and identify the values and philosophies which guide me.
I realize our lives are not pre-defined. They are developed over time and at an incremental level – somewhat like my waistline. Time after time, we’re faced with opportunities, challenges and decisions. If and how we respond, coupled with the attitude we exuberate, define ourselves and influence those around us. I believe that as we journey through life, we need to maintain faith in ourselves, have the confidence to step out of our comfort zones, be compassionate and take the time to understand and assist others.
With passion, patience (okay, some patience – spoken from a father of 11) and perseverance, we need to be actionable, do the right thing and do it for the right reasons. We need to keep it simple (note: simple does not always mean non-complex), try to be the “best FOR the world”, foster independence, and embrace change (ex. have the courage to instill the change we can control, be accepting of the changes we can’t control, and have the wisdom to know the difference).
This I believe to be the cocktail of life. Not a single defining moment and/or decision, but rather a cohesion and collection of the fragmentations of the “any little bits” we do. We should strive to create opportunity for others, and ensure we’re instilling a level of humility while having fun along the way.
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