Declare Your Independence in Business and at Work
I must admit, I’m a bit sentimental about the Fourth of July holiday, e.g. patriotic. It annoys my husband Joel ever so slightly, sometimes reminding him of more rigid, intolerant and oppressive flag-waver types, and for that reason questions the authenticity of wearing red, white and blue as an expression of freedom given the occasional abuse of power.
However, I’m not that type of flag-waver. My patriotism – and pursuit of happiness and autonomy, in my career and in my business – is grounded more in gratitude. Gratitude for those generations who came before me, making my life so much better today than it clearly was for them. Grateful for my great-great-grandmother Katie Markowitz of blessed memory, married at 15 years old and a mother at 16 years old. Who, according to the 1900 census, emigrated to Manhattan from Moscow, Russia with her two oldest children in steerage for what was definitely not a luxury cruise for nearly 3 weeks in 1896, following her husband Davis of blessed memory who had emigrated before her almost 2 years earlier, arriving with little more than a few clothes and no job or business. My own private refuse of foreign shores. Who proceeded to have four more children, including my grandfather Joseph of blessed memory, also known as Markie, who died years before I was born at the age of 51. When Katie died, and of what, we don’t know; however, I suspect she died young from a hard life of poverty and childbirth / child-rearing thereof.
Gratitude for my great-grandmother Rose of blessed memory, who’s husband Abe, my great-grandfather of blessed memory, died in the 1918 influenza epidemic just a little less than 15 years after they both emigrated here from Austria as young teenagers, also with very little in the way of personal belongings and no jobs: but in search of a better quality of life and more personal freedom.
I found out only eight years ago that Rose, a master needle-worker, subsequently opened her own notions store on the Lower East Side after Abe’s death, to support her two sons, Nat and Eddie. My granddaddy Nat of blessed memory was my son Noah’s age, 11 years old, at the time of his father’s death, and he quit school to get a job to help support the family. In the tradition of my tribe, Noah is named for Nat.
My ancestors of blessed memory came to the United States to find a better life for themselves, their children and their grandchildren, leaving everything and everyone they knew, taking the risk and arriving with nothing but their smarts and their stamina. In the process, they learned and worked hard at their trades; to build careers; to run their businesses; with the hope that their children and their grandchildren would find even more blessings. We did. Thank you for bringing our families here to live and thrive.
As one of their children, I have been blessed with great opportunities and a wonderful career that has forged the strengths of the person I am today. In honor of the 2012 Fourth of July holiday, I am proud to follow the path of my ancestors with the blessing of enough client work to step full-time into my consulting business, Deb Best Practices – in the arch of my combined family history, one of the mildest of risks to date, indeed.
For my colleagues, friends and family: I wish for you the authentic prosperity of your own independence and autonomy, born of those who came before us to bring us to this moment: to express the vocational music within you, whether you are in a career job or your own business, or both. As my friend Barry would say: “Nike! Just do it!”
Happy Independence Day!