Did you know his dad ran a little cheese stand on the street? He didn't come from a particularly well-off or educated family. But I like to think that his parents encouraged his creativity and wanted him to follow his dreams. His brother became a cartographer - so Christopher may have found a little inspiration there. He was drawn to the sea and went on his first sea voyage at 10 years old. He didn't have much formal education but devoured the books he could get his hands on. He somehow worked himself into a great position with a major trading company and traveled all over with that job. He somehow landed himself a marriage with a governor's daughter. He got it in his mind that he was going to find a new sea route to the Far East and all it's sought-after riches (after the Turks made the land-route, the Silk Road, unsafe). Most people thought he was crazy to want to take off in a direction no one had ever taken before - no known routes, no tested maps. He went to kingdom after kingdom seeking a sponsor for his voyage of discovery and kept getting rejected. But he finally found sponsors and followed his dream.
I love researching stuff like this with my kids. And I love finding the lessons there are in the lives of so many people.
Silas wanted to give the Family Home Evening Lesson last night and gave a lovely and somewhat surprising lesson on Columbus. He didn't seem to be really be listening while I did Columbus research with the big kids (he was happily spinning the world globe we were using and bugging people). But he picked up on a lot of things and as he shared the story remarkably well, the other kids filled in more information and they came up with some great lessons we can learn from Columbus - lessons I need to remember myself:
- Keep trying. There are tons of failures embedded in every success story.
- You have to step into the unknown quite often to get to where you're supposed to be. You can't know the end from the beginning. Success is often routed in leaps of faith.
- It doesn't really matter whether you've had certain advantages in life. Determination and hard work can create your path for you.
- Sometimes what you think is true and what's been mapped out is actually not right at all. The only way to find out is to test it for yourself.
- Sometimes you find something totally different from what you were going for - but it may be much better than what you were anticipating. Keep an open mind and embrace serendipity.
Life isn't made up of sure-bets and easy paths. It wasn't meant to be. Great success in life (which certainly includes producing quality human beings) doesn't just happen, no matter your circumstances. Success is grown through failures and pain and joy and work and doing things and then doing them again while taking steps into the darkness and reaching for the light.
My parents are contributors to a great online magazine called Success - check out their lastest stuff on finding the greatest success you can experience in life through building a strong and happy family here. A lot of their stuff is going into the new "Family Systems" program that I'm working on for Power of Moms - so get a sneak peak on Success Magazine if you want for now.