Personal Development

JS Tip 59: From the Personal Development Workshops: Bouncing Back Part III

Two weeks ago, we suggested two great helps for resilience: the help of friends and the knowledge of family. Last week we talked about the help of friends. This week we’ll talk about the knowledge of family.

•   A woman comments on her father’s experience: “My father never talked much about when he was young. It was a tough time. He started work when he was five years old. When I think of what he did and compare it to what I do now—even with my job’s difficulties—I have it easy.”

•   An eleven-year-old boy learns that his great-great-grandfather played semi-pro football in the 1920s. He puts the photo next to his bed. He tells his father, “We’ve got to work hard. It’s in our genes.” 

•   A woman discovers her pioneer ancestor’s journal. An entry reads, “Still moving.” The entry comes after the cholera death of the pioneer’s wife and infant son. The woman takes the words as counsel for her life: “If he can do that,” she says, “I can certainly keep going”

Stories from our family histories inspire us. Move us. These are “our people,” and their examples touch us more than random history lessons. Especially in a time of moving and disconnect, the knowledge of these “our people” informs our lives. (For Alex Haley—the author of Roots—it was a life-changing experience.)

Where—and how—do we start? At the simplest level: with yourself. Write down everything you know about your heritage. Your mother’s name. Her background. Your father’s name. His background. Expand from there. Ask your parents. Ask your uncles and aunts. (They’re a good source because they’ll tell you stories that your parents won’t tell you: “You have no idea what a crazy young man your father was.”)

Resources are available on the internet. Some free. Some paid. The knowledge, heritage, and inspiration are priceless.

We'd like to hear your stories. Whose blood flows in your veins? How has it helped you bounce back? Respond to this tip, or join the discussion on the Jefferson Smith Training and Consulting group page on Facebook. Next week's tip will be written by you.