The importance of personal independence
This week we took a West Virginia vacation with our youngest son and his family of five from Maryland. Our original plan was to go to Disney World. We felt West Virginia was a better and safer choice. It is good to be able to get out and travel again. We have our masks and have been able to socially distance. We just celebrated our nation’s Independence Day. After hauling our suitcases down from upstairs and loading the car, I thought about how important our personal independence is.
After my soccer injury in October, I couldn’t go upstairs to our bedroom until February. When I was in my wheelchair in December, I couldn’t go out our front door without assistance. The ability to drive and go wherever we want to is freedom. I understand how people feel when they have to give up driving and become dependent on others to take them where they want to go. I didn’t start driving again until late January. Before that, I couldn’t go to the grocery store, the post office or set up a business meeting until I knew I had a driver. I was dependent.
Our good health is important for us in order to maintain our independence. I was shocked at how much strength and muscle mass I lost in my legs for the two months I couldn’t put any weight on them. Patients that have spent weeks in a hospital because of COVID-19 have long recovery to get their strength back. It takes much longer to build muscle mass and strength back up than it does to lose it. I could finally run again in April and played golf again in May. This week, for the first time since October, I finally could swim laps. I also got to do a long run with my granddaughters who are in high school. One is playing soccer and the other is running cross country. We had some great discussions while we ran.
Protecting our health whether it is from COVID-19 or some other illness like heart or lung disease is important for us to maintain our independence. We learn from the examples of others good or bad. My dad personified some important values like integrity and a strong work ethic for our family. He also smoked three packs of cigarettes a day. Dad was a strong swimmer but the tobacco had deteriorated his lung capacity to the point he couldn’t swim three lengths of the pool at Boy Scout Camp with us to pass his swimmers test. I decided not to be in that same position as an adult. I chose not to smoke and worked to stay fit so I could do things with my children and grandchildren. I want to stay independent.
The United States is unique. It is one of the few nations on earth that has both personal liberty and economic opportunity. We are free to follow our dreams. There is no limit to how much money we can earn. My parents were great role models in many areas. Like their parents, they were good employees. They stressed education. They wanted us to be more successful than they were. But they didn’t like the risks of business ownership or understand how money can work for us.
In high school, I caddied at a local country club. The members were successful business people and professionals like doctors. I learned a lot just listening to the members I caddied for.
Financially successful people look at money differently than my parents. I learned a person can be financially successful and be great person. We can’t help the poor if we are poor. Growing up, I noticed when our church needed money for a big project it was the financially successful who provided it. We decide the kind of person we want to be no matter our financial situation.
America is still the land of opportunity. There are those who are trying to convince people it isn’t. This is not only cruel but boarders on evil. Anyone who believes these misguided people is condemned to a life of misery and hopelessness. These naysayers give people an excuse to fail or to wait on someone like the government to hopefully raise them up.
I have been coaching young people and adults on the corporate level of all ethnic backgrounds for over 40 years. I have seen people rise above their circumstances and abilities to achieve what some might say was the impossible. Our first state high school soccer championship game appearance was because our senior captain had a dream. We didn’t have the raw talent of our top opponents. We had a dream, the belief we could succeed, a work ethic and refused to quit. All the boys needed was someone to believe in them and encourage them. In this case, that was me as coach. In America, anyone with a dream can do the same thing.
People from around the world still come here and bring their businesses here. Success is available to all races, religions and nationalities. I see this in the petrochemical industry of big business and in the speaking industry made up of small independent businesses. Immigrants come to this country with little more than a dream and have become financially successful.
According to Pew Research Center, immigrants are playing an increasingly important role in business creation in the U.S. They are more likely to start a business than U.S. born citizens. These foreign- born entrepreneurs businesses create millions of jobs and generate billions of dollars in revenue. Starting with next to nothing in this land of opportunity many have become millionaires.
We are Americans. Anything is still possible. Have a dream. Chose personal independence.
Greg Kozera, firstname.lastname@example.org is the Director of Marketing and Sales for Shale Crescent USA. He is a professional engineer with a Masters in Environmental Engineering who has over 40 years’ experience in the energy industry. Greg is a leadership expert and the author of four books and numerous published articles.