"My mother's story is nothing less than remarkable. She lived in a time when women were relegated to household tasks. Her circumstances forced her to quit school at an early age to help support her family.
She always considered obstacles as opportunities. One of her favorite quotes was- "Look in the mirror, and tell me what you see, and whoever that is you will become-I saw a successful businesswoman and by God's Grace, and hard work I fulfilled my goal.
She said, "True wealth isn't measured in dollars and cents, but by the love, we have to our faith, family, friends, and community. It is the respect we show to everyone and everything.
It is measured by an open heart of, kindness, humility, and forgiveness. Not long after she passed, a thought came to mind-- she 'cracked the glass ceiling' before it became a popular metaphor."
Look in the mirror and you can be whatever you see.
Mother Always Said, "..." Prologue ©
MY MOTHER WAS THE THIRD-OLDEST CHILD in a family of nine brothers and sisters. Born in 1918, she was a product of her proud Serbian-American heritage and values that gave her a strong work ethic and devotion to family. This commitment was tested at an early age when her father unexpectedly died. She had little choice but to drop out of school, in order to contribute to supporting the family. She willingly accepted her fate, and in time came to realize her real-life education and experiences would far surpass many formal equivalents.
Growing up, I often wondered how my mother came to work in a shoe store. Then I decided to ask the owner, Mr. Morris Chamovitz, my mother’s mentor and surrogate father, that very question.
“One day,” he said with pride, “a young, innocent, beautiful and determined-looking girl entered my store seeking employment, and she explained there was a situation in her family, which dictated that she find a job.
Mr. Chamovitz told me how he pointed out to her that many others were facing similar difficulties, so she changed her tactics.
“I’m honest, hardworking, attend church every week, and I always show respect to others,” She told him, but he still was not convinced. He wanted something more, so she made him an offer: “What if I work for you free for one month, and then you can tell me what I’m worth?” Impressed, he hired her on the spot.
After only a week, Morris’ partner Harry Jackson called her a ‘diamond in the rough.’ “I vote for waiving the trial period and recommended hiring her immediately,” he told Morris.
Morris, however, did not agree, because as he often said, “A deal is a deal. If you give your word, you are expected to keep it. He saw this as her first and most important lesson in business: live up to your word. It was the beginning of a lifelong personal and business relationship that changed both of their lives forever.
Thus Mother learned an invaluable lesson, which took the form of her many maxims—“Robert, run to adversity, not away from it. It’s your greatest opportunity if you know how to take advantage of it.” When you run away, you lose something far more important than just the immediate “contest.” You also lose self-respect, and this is the heaviest loss of all.
However, when you confront adversity head-on, you gain something much more valuable than any tangible prize such as a job or money. You gain self-esteem and pride. You become a stronger and more effective person; in addition, sometimes you gain tangible rewards as well. (Incidentally, my mother received full back pay after she was permanently hired!)