I often wonder how many people I miss, as I walk down the street, who have fascinating and inspiring stories. I also wonder sometimes, who would think my story was inspiring? That was on my mind as I walked thru Century City to Toscanova for lunch with my client Pedro, the owner of a manufacturer in Thousand Oaks.
He too, was an immigrant. Unlike me, who came from the south of France, he was from Mexico.
We both shared how we got here, and the people who inspired us to reach higher than our towns could accommodate. I still remember the feeling of that first-time idea to move to Paris as soon as I had graduated from college. It was a big deal to move from the south of France (like moving from Georgia to New York).
I used to go the local bank where my parents were banking. Alice – the branch manager – was incredibly polished, which was unusual in a small town. Her dress and manners were impeccable. I admired her, yet she intimidated me at the same time. She was a leader and seemed to always be on her “A” game.
One day, before I had graduated from high school, my parents took me with them to the bank to make a deposit. Alice invited us to her office to talk as my parents were leaving. She asked about my future aspirations. A simple, impromptu conversation about my professional aspirations sparked a life-long mentorship.
Alice told us her story about growing up as a French-Canadian. After working to Toronto, she moved to Paris for an international career opportunity. Yet, after a weekend trip, she fell completely in love with the South of France.
I was in awe of the many stories she told of being one of the rare female supervisors in banking. Her story was the catalyst to my later choosing to be a finance major.
I decided that day that I would move to Paris after graduating from college, and after I got some work experience, to later move abroad.
My client grew up in a smaller town than I had. My early years working in Paris were not shared by him. He hadn’t gone to Mexico City. He had snuck across the border and worked any job he could find. He eventually was able to get his green card and his citizenship later.
He wasn’t a tall man, nor a big one. He did have a daughter, who stayed in Mexico. She had a family and kids and had roots so deep that it was unlikely she would ever leave the town.
As such, he was amazed at my journey.
He couldn’t imagine his daughter making a similar journey, like the one I had done. In fact, he would have counseled against following his path to her.
I have known this man for quite a while now, and I wasn’t offended at all by his statement. For him, it came from a place of love. He could not imagine his life without his daughter. He still had scars from the journey he took as a youngster.
There are so many times when I -or others – have underestimated what someone’s capabilities are and how far they will go. Yet, they do it from a place of love.
As we celebrate Women’s Month, I’d like you to consider someone in your life that you may worry about excessively. I’m describing someone, whose choices seem too risky to you.
The risks you fear, may not be the ones they fear. We all have our fears. Let’s celebrate and share the successes and reduce our concerns. We all have a journey. Yet, it is rarely the same and we are all different.
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