“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and he’ll eat forever.”
— Chinese Proverb
This may very well be one of my favorite quotes in the entire world of quotes. When I think about this a story comes to mind about my childhood. My grandmother, who practically raised me when my mom and dad divorced because my mom worked nights, used to always use random quotes to get her point across while she tried to teach us unruly kid something about life. One of the quotes that I heard her say was the quote mentioned here. I never quite knew what it meant but I guess I had a good idea, even at that time, and I definitely would find out later in life exactly what these words entailed.
I am the second oldest of 4 but I am the oldest daughter of my sister and I. One day, as I was playing outside on one of the hottest summer days of the summer of 1995, I heard the ice cream truck so I quickly ran into the house, where my grandmother was cooking and I asked her for some money so that I could get some ice cream. Being the awesome and loving grandmother that she was, she gave me some money and I went to the truck and got my ice cream. Little did I know, there was a lesson waiting to be taught and grandma was just about ready to teach it.
You see, this had been my third time that week asking her for money although she would give me money for doing chores and things around the house, I ran through that money like it was “growing on trees” (another fave of granny, lol). As many kids this age – I had just turned 10 years old at that time – I felt like my family was rich and if I asked them for something, they just HAD to give it to me because I was their “baby” and, on top of that, I was the “good” child. Oh, don’t tell me…you’ve never thought that way, right? I know… 🙂
So, one day, during this same week, I had come home from day camp and was, again, playing outside. It was another scorching hot day, and I am still not sure how I didn’t pass out from exhaustion or dehydration because I hated drinking water at that age. I heard the ice cream truck and what do you think happened?… Yes, you’re right… I ran inside to ask grandma for some money but this time my awesome and loving grandmother was prepared. Before I could get a full sentence out, I guess she knew I was coming to ask for the almighty dollar once again, she stopped me and said, “Baby girl, I am not giving you any more money.” You would have thought that I had seen a ghost, I was totally caught off guard by this. Grandma continued, “However, I will help you make some money and even buy some things to show you how to continue to make money on your own.” You see, grandma was trying to “teach me how to fish” and she did. It was in that moment when I truly realized what this old Chinese proverb had meant.
To make a long story short, grandma and I went to the store, I believe it was Sams Club, and bought almost all of the boxes of small bags of chips, juices, freeze pops, nacho chips, ground beef, jalapenos and nacho cheese. Grandma even cooked the ground beef and warmed the cheese for me to make the nachos and before long our house became known as the “Candy Store” and was where all of the kids (both young and old) came to get their goodies. That was the beginning of my little side business and I setup shop every summer from then on, until we moved from that area. The lesson that I learned that day was more valuable than I think I realized at that time and it is now what I attribute my entrepreneurial spirit to today.
So, join in the discussion…share your stories, favorite quotes, anything that has ushered you into becoming the person that you are today. I’d love to hear them and learn about you.