After a small accident on an afternoon at my grandparents house I found myself walking alone with my grandfather. My head was wrapped in a wet towel with his hat to keep pressure on the oversized dressing. My age at this time is a little fuzzy, probably due to the head wound I sustained.
We walked down the road and as is the tradition my grandfather began to impart his wisdom on to me. He comes from a time when credit was not as ubiquitous as it is now. When hard work meant working hard to the point of physical exhaustion and your work clothes rarely included a tie.
My grandfather told me as we walked how tough I was and how proud he was of me. He explained that there are times in life when you have to move past the pain and move on. We have to put one foot in front of the other and continue down the road. Eventually wounds will heal and pain will go away. As always he said “when you’re president” this skill will be very important. Then the story began.
When he was working at the mill one day a strike was called and everyone went home. The union was negotiating for more money and the company was holding out. Home he went to his family of five and searched for something to sustain them while the strike was resolved. He knew he couldn’t control the union or the company but he could find a way to take care of his family. He traveled to Daytona for work it wasn’t much and the drive was long, but on he went. He saw his family less but they all ate and he made sure his children would not feel the pain of this time.
The strike dragged on and one day he got a phone call from the mill. The leadership wanted to promote him to supervisor. This would mean he could go back to work but it would also mean leaving the union. He considered his options but his choice was clear, he chose the promotion and secured his families future. Some were upset by this and disagreed with him, but his conscious was clear. He made his decision based on what really matters, his family.
As he told me this story he said that when you take on responsibility you have to rise to its challenges. Your decisions are not based on the what’s best for someone else or even yourself, they have to begin with the family you support.
From this point his career grew eventually trading in his work clothes for the tie. With his success so grew his family. From that one decision among many he made before and would make after he helped foster a family of greatness.
Simply by moving past the pain, controlling what he could, and continuing to take the next step down the road.