Do Your Own Growing


If you've heard one adage, you've heard them all—or at least it's easy to feel that way in today's jaded, eye-rolling, seen-it-all climate. (And that's just the tweens.)

But every once in a while, a standby surprises you. That's what happened recently when, after speaking on Gen Y at the Kohler Distributor Conference, I listened to Vice President of Sales Frank Windsor's closing remarks. In the midst of discussing product and process innovations, he quoted something old and lovely: "You've got to do your own growing, no matter how tall your grandfather was."

It's an Irish saying, apparently, that's also been attributed to Abraham Lincoln. And Frank was using it to both honor Kohler's 130-plus years and encourage the some 200 people in the room to help build on and beyond that history.

But mostly, it struck me as a beautiful little encapsulation of something many of us have felt: It's a blessing to grow up with the bar set high, but that doesn't make it easier to reach.

And in some respects, it often seems even harder. We joke in my family that our mom's bad for our self-esteem—a single mother of four kids, she managed to go back to school and rise to the top of her field, while also cooking us dinner every night, making Halloween costumes and party dresses from scratch, and still managing to be smarter and better informed than we were when we sat down for Sunday breakfasts that inevitably turned into heated political debates.

That upbringing was an incredible gift—and it's also made all four of us neurotic, self-flagellating, sometimes insufferable overachievers. Luckily, we got our mom's sense of humor, too, and the pride she takes in self-awareness. (She likes to tell us that, had one of us been an ugly baby, no amount of mother's love would've kept her from noticing.)

So as we've gotten older and each faced our individual challenges, we've learned to do our own growing. But when she's hanging with her four kids, Mom never misses an opportunity to remind us that, even in her stilettos, she's still the shortest. Talk about pressure...

For more from Kohler, visit here. And today's photo features my silly family—from left to right, me, Omar, Mom, Kamran, and Elizabeth.