When I was little and learning the how to’s of chores and the underlying principles of work my grandmother would often say, “Inch by inch, Life’s a cinch.” Then she would add, “Yard by yard, life is hard,”
Wisdom from my Grandmother – Wisdom at the heart of the Kaizen approach to change.
Grandmother Mabel was born in 1892 just one year after the game of basketball was invented in 1891 by James Naismith, a Canadian physical education instructor. Born into a household of 11 brothers and sisters, she was introverted, shy, and serious. So shy she dropped out of school in 8th grade, too timid to keep on going. Stopping at the 7th or 8th grade was not unusual for young girls in the early 1900’s. And the teachers, wanting to please their principal – her father, the Superintendent of Schools in Sandwich, Illinois – kept passing my grandmother even if she did not understand the lesson. School lost its luster and helping at home doing meaningful work was much more to her liking.
‘Gran’ taught me how to thread a needle at age three and sew a chain stitch that same weekend. At ages five, four, and three she taught my brother, sister, and me how to cook chocolate pudding on a gas stove over low heat so as not to scorch the milk. She read the Classics to us sparking our imaginations.
She taught us the value of ideas, self-direction, hard work – and the value of breaking tasks down into doable, manageable steps.
She taught us the value of fun. Not many pre-school kids learn Canasta, a game requiring each player hold 11 or 15 cards in one’s hand depending on the number of players.
Our little hands unable, she set chairs beside each of us at the table and showed us how to lay out the cards so that we could see and work from them.
We learned an adult game with adult rules. Peaking at your sister or brother’s cards? Verboten – cheating not for winners.
Grandma Mabel marched as a suffragette in the streets of Cleveland, Ohio campaigning for a woman’s right to vote and have full citizenship. She drove across the United States to California in the 1930’s before interstates made travel easy. She lived through the Great Depression, worked at the YWCA for most of her working career, and retired as their Executive Director. Seemingly invincible she made light work of heavy lifting impressing me with the importance of habit. From showing me how to wash clothes through a wringer washer without crushing my fingers in great basins in the basement to the exact way to make a bed with “nurse’s corners”, step by step, inch by inch, nothing was impossible.
I am eternally grateful for my Grandmother Mabel who helped shape my work ethic and gave me an example of how to overcome and create an amazing life. I am thankful to all the amazing men and women who have mentored and coached me.
What about you? Who are your role models? Are you creating the life you want to live? Are your dreams moving ahead, still percolating, or stagnating? I would love to hear from you and welcome your comments.
To learn more about the Kaizen approach to change, email 7 Owlz – The Coaching Component at Info@7Owlz.com
To make an appointment contact me at diane@7Owlz.com
With best regards,
Life Coach, Certified Wellness Inventory Coach
Certified Global Career Development Facilitator (GCDF)