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Rich: Sharing the gift of life’s wisdom

POSTED: February 3, 2009 1:00 a.m.

Readers have often reassured me that among their favorite columns are the ones in which I share the wisdom passed down to me by my parents. But just this morning I got to thinking: I have some wisdom, too, that I can share.

This much I have come to know in life: Wisdom is accumulated through much trying and toiling. It comes not just from failures, hard times and losses, it also drifts in on the back of happiness, success, love and adventure.

Wisdom, I have learned, is an intermingling of all the phases of our life. What we do right teaches us as much as what we do wrong. And while the wisdom that is passed down from those we respect is important to the core of our being, it is our own wisdom that truly defines us.

Here's a bit - just a bit, mind you - of what I've learned thus far:

A parent's love is constant and consistent. No matter how much you do for your parents or how little you do, they will never love you any more or any less. Don't look after your parents for reward or favor. Do what you need to do to help them because it is the right thing to do, not to earn any emotional equity.

Blessings often arrive disguised as heartaches. Without fail, every time, I've unwrapped a heartache and looked past the initial wrapping, I have found the gift of a beautiful blessing.

Tithe your blessings as well as your money. Many times I receive a gift of time or favor that has no monetary value attached. Still, it enhanced my life in some way so I take it as a responsibility to give back to someone else. When someone does a favor for me, I do a favor for someone else.

One "yes" can wipe out a thousand "nos." People often become discouraged by rejection. I don't. I believe that if I persevere long enough and hard enough, one day I'll get the "yes" I'm looking for.

The first novel I wrote was rejected by dozens of publishers but I would not give up. I knew the book had just not found where it needed to be. One day, out of the blue, two editors from major New York publishing companies called up and offered to buy it. Suddenly, the book that had not been wanted by anyone was wanted by two publishers.

It went on to know success. It became a Reader's Digest condensed book, an honor in the publishing world, and it's going to be a movie. Had I given up after many rejections, I would never have found success. It is possible, I have observed, to stop one step away from winning.

With success cometh more friends as well as more enemies, though you didn't do anything special to deserve either. People will love you for no reason and people who don't even know you will hate you.

I didn't win the lottery of good fortune; I work 12-hour days. But mainly it's up to me to do business with integrity, honor, a strong work ethic, humility and gratitude. Once I've done that, let the chips fall where they may.

Treat every person as if one day you'll be stranded on a desert island with them. Now, you wouldn't want to be sentenced to a lifetime of seclusion with someone you used or abused, would you?

The bigger the dream, the harder the work. But it's all worth it. Small dreams lead to bigger ones so just keeping dreaming.

Corral your talent and make it work for you. I know many people who are vastly more talented writers than I am. But they only dream of writing. I actually do it by adhering to discipline and focus.

I have more wisdom, I just don't have more space right now. So stay tuned. More's a-comin'.

Ronda Rich is the Gainesville-based author of "What Southern Women Know (That Every Woman Should)." Sign up for her newsletter


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