The main idea of this post was originally shared in on Memorial Day in 2014. I wanted to share it again in the time of COVID. While it is true that we find ourselves in challenging and uncertain times, we can get through it. I am also sharing this post because the ideals Ewing Marion Kauffman shared with the world were very helpful to me when deciding whether or not to leave my twenty-five year career. His words ran through my head a million times, and I ultimately decided not to be content with what someone thought I was worth – especially when it was $158,000 less than the man who held the position before me.
I don’t believe the demise of the United States is an inevitable outcome. I believe there are many futures, and we have to decide which one we are going to choose. The politics of this whole COVID situation are very real, so make your own decisions about how you want to live your life. The one thing I have learned? Always question those who tell you to be satisfied with what you have or where you are in life – they usually think they are more entitled and valuable than you – and, that you should be there to serve them in some lower-level capacity.
You have the freedom to choose, and people died for that freedom. Now is the time to use it.
To the Brave & the Fallen: Thank You for Freedom!
We have much to be grateful for this Memorial Weekend. Thank you to all who have lost their lives bravely fighting for the United States. And, thank you to those who have served and passed, the families who have sacrificed more than most can imagine and all who defend this great nation. While I realize today is for the fallen, I also want to thank our living Veterans, Military personnel and their families. You need to be recognized and remembered whenever possible for your dedication and service to this country. I also want to remember our loved ones who are no longer with us.
Thanks to our great military heroes, one of the unique gifts we have in the United States is the gift is FREEDOM! The Declaration of Independence guarantees all of us “certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” This means we are free to pursue our lives and our vocations in any way that makes sense to us. Freedom and opportunity are already available, now we need the confidence to pursue our dreams!
Freedom is what makes America so great. What we do with our freedom is up to us. It is our choice. Freedom is our grandest opportunity and should be protected, especially in challenging times. The importance of the freedom to choose is demonstrated by the story of Ewing Marion Kauffman.
After serving in World War II, Ewing Marion Kauffman started working as a salesman for a pharmaceutical company and was extremely successful. When he started making more money than his boss, he found that his sales territory was suddenly limited. Mr. Kauffman’s boss limited the sales territory on purpose. After all, an employee couldn’t make more money than the boss!
Mr. Kauffman made a decision after his boss limited his sales territory and income. He quit his job and vowed never to work for anyone else again. He started his business in 1950 in the basement of his home. He generated $36,000 in sales and $1,000 of net profit in his first year. By 1989, Mr. Kauffman’s business made over $1 billion in sales and employed over 3,400 people.
Mr. Kauffman wanted to give back to the world and used his knowledge and wealth to form the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a foundation designed to support entrepreneurship and innovation.
Dr. Carl Schramm, the former President of the Kauffman Foundation, wrote The Entrepreneurial Imperative. In this book (one of my absolute favorites), he notes three things all Americans should remember in the face of gloomy times (p. 81):
1. Never bet against the American system.
2. Know that being an American is your very best asset…
3. Finally, never count on anyone but you to create your own destiny.
The American system is designed so that we can pursue our passions and dreams, especially in challenging times. Our ability to pursue our dreams and create our own destiny is what makes our country so great. We all have the freedom to choose what to do with our lives, and we have the freedom to help one another. We have the freedom to pursue our ideas, our dreams and our passions. We have the freedom to create our own destiny.
People like my Great Uncle Jack realized this and helped protect the freedoms we have in the United States. Uncle Jack was a fascinating man. When I was young, all I knew about him was that he was great at hunting night crawlers. In fact, he taught me how to hunt them. We lived in the apartment above my parents’ TV and appliance store. It was located on the main street of a rural community and did not have much of a yard. Luckily, Uncle Jack lived only a few blocks away and had the perfect yard for gathering night crawlers. When it rained at night, we would walk down to his house with our flashlights and buckets. Dad and Uncle Jack would help us kids hunt night crawlers so we could use them as bait when we went fishing.
There is actually a trick to getting your night crawler. You have to shine the light on night crawlers to find them while they are above the wet ground. And, you have to be quick! Too much light scares them back into the ground. You have to remember where they are and grab them quickly yet gently. Then you have to slowly coax them out of the hole a little bit at a time. If you try to force them out, they break.
Night crawlers and people are similar in this regard. If you force individuals down a path they do not truly want to pursue, they eventually break. Humans must find their own paths and pursue their own destinies with passion and purpose in order to live their best lives.
I did not understand much about Uncle Jack until I was a young adult. He was a World War II Veteran and served under General George S. Patton during the Battle of the Bulge. Absolutely amazing! He was a World War II hero and I thought he was awesome because of his ability to catch night crawlers!
Uncle Jack and his family sacrificed when he served our country. As Americans, we must remember that our freedom is not free. Many men and women have died, been injured and sacrificed a great deal to provide us with the ability to live our lives with freedom and choice. Taking our freedom for granted dishonors our troops and veterans. It also dishonors their families, who have sacrificed more than many of us can imagine. These people have truly sacrificed for all of us and our great nation. We should honor and salute them everyday because they have given us the gift of freedom and choice. We get to choose how we spend our time and our lives.
The bottom line: Cherish your freedom, protect it and use it to create your destiny!
Freedom is foundational to entrepreneurship, business development and the future. We must protect freedom for our future generations. My daughter’s birthday is this time of year. Happy Birthday Raquel! As a your Mom, I will do whatever I can to preserve your freedom so you can pursue any dream you choose!
Coaching Challenge: Participate in a Memorial Day Activity and show your gratitude for our Veterans and Military families!
And, stay tuned for Part 2 of this blog series!