I remember the first time I took a date to a fancy restaurant for dinner. I was twenty years old and had just received my first credit card. I had no money, but still wanted to make an impression, so I picked a nice place. At the end of the meal, I took out my credit card to pay the bill, only to have the waiter quietly inform me that they didn’t accept credit cards. I was very lucky that the young lady had cash to pay the bill, and I sure did make an impression!
I was thrilled when she agreed to go out on a second date and, after some research, I selected a Chinese restaurant that indeed accepted credit cards. When my dinner arrived, I noticed a beautiful little red pepper on the side of my plate and popped it into my mouth first thing. Within moments, I felt my face flushing and could barely talk. I drank a glass of water just as the waitress was yelling not to do that. She could tell what had happened from the brightness in my face, and brought me some bread to help ease the burning. When I could speak, I asked the waitress what I’d eaten, and she told me it was a spicy hot Chinese pepper. She said I wasn’t supposed to eat it, and that it was just there to make the food look good.
Perhaps dating wasn’t for me. Luckily, that young woman agreed to marry me a few years later, and we’ve remained married ever since… maybe because now she gets to choose the restaurants. I’ll never forget how powerful that little pepper was, and it often reminds me of how little things can have a big impact in life. Which brings me to this week’s story…
Anita was born in a bomb shelter to an immigrant couple who fled their homeland just before the Second World War. She grew up in frugal times, and early on, her family barely had enough money to survive. A few years later, her parents opened and began operating a small café where Anita and her four young siblings worked.
Anita married at an early age and, following in her parent’s footsteps, she opened a small restaurant. Things went well for a time. Then, one day, Anita’s husband told her about a childhood dream he’d always had: he wanted to ride a horse from Argentina to New York. Being a caring wife, she wanted to help him achieve his dream, so they sold their café, and off he went on his 18-month journey by horse.
Meanwhile, Anita needed to support herself and her two daughters, so she borrowed a few thousand dollars and opened a little store to sell natural beauty products to women. More than just selling products, though, she hoped to use the store to help raise awareness about social causes she was passionate about. Anita decorated her store with posters supporting a variety of environmental and social issues. Long before the term even existed, Anita was “environmentally friendly” when few people even knew what that meant. She offered products that were all-natural and came in refillable and reusable bottles. Many people saw the poor, struggling mother and doubted that anyone in her shoes could ever make a serious impact on the world. But Anita persisted.
Her husband returned from his trip and immediately leant support to help Anita fulfill her dream. Together, they opened a second small store and, through word of mouth, their customer base continued to grow. Within a few years, they started franchising the business, which continued to expand as interest and demand for her all-natural, socially-conscious products increased.
Today, Anita Roddick’s dream is best known as The Body Shop, with over 2,000 stores in 50 countries. Before she passed away, Anita sold her share of the business for $237 million and donated all of it to charities that support the causes she so deeply believed in.
One of my favorite Anita Roddick quotes always reminds me of my experience with that little red hot Chinese pepper: “If you think you’re too small to make an impact, try going to bed with a mosquito in the room.” Anita had a point! Each one of us has the power to live our dreams and make a difference in the world.
The Live to Give Mindset is about connecting your passion to causes you believe in. When you do this, you give meaning to your life. Just remember that it’s the little things we do with passion and purpose that determine whether we live a life of success and, even more importantly, a life of significance.
Until next week…
Live Your Dreams
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