As it’s usually the case, we set out to do something objective, methodical and well planned, and life decides instead to teach us a lesson. I had one such occurrence recently while in Miami for a social media project where I got to interview dignitaries, CEOs, elected officials, and even got to post commentary by Gloria Estefan, who received “The Ultimate Latina Award.”
The event was on its last eve of four full days, and it had taken place in some of the most posh venues around the Miami area. However, the highlight and lesson in this post took place in a much more modest venue – it happened in the men’s restroom. Working the towels, soap and gum dispensers was a figure I always imagined my grandfather to look like, had I met him. He had wrinkles so distinct across his face from left to right, you’d swear they were painted on. He was 72 years young Orlando, and his happy and proud demeanor told you he was honored to be doing his job.
As it’s my habit, I asked if the bosses were treating him right. He responded with a resounding; “de maravilla,” which loosely translates to “marvelous.” We struck up a conversation, and here’s where he captured my imagination; he told me he had recently arrived on a raft from Cuba. Orlando and twelve others had floated across the Atlantic Ocean for 13 days (and nights) with no more than the clothes on their backs.
I can’t even begin to describe how nervous the idea of being out to sea at night in a raft makes me – let alone having my grandfather out there for two weeks. Obviously I gave myself the freedom to be moved by this stranger, but then realized something very powerful; the injustice isn’t solely that a man at 72 would be forced to flee his native Cuba in a raft seeking a better life. An equally grave injustice is when those of us living right here with all of the tools at our disposal choose to do just enough to get by instead of aspiring for greatness. We possess many abilities and our opportunities are many – the question is; are we ready to do what it takes to make our dreams a reality? A desire that apparently does not subside, even at age 72. Perhaps some of us have it too easy…
For me, since meeting Orlando I am more committed to creating economic and social change for those who don’t have my opportunities. They are my destination, and entrepreneurship is my raft.
Thanks for reading – now get out there and let’s do more, be more!