The power of kid books.

by Uncategorized

A recent studied showed that people who read biographies of successful people when they were growing up had higher self-confidence and felt that they would be more successful. If you went back to my elementary library you would find that I checked out books on  Martha Washington, Susan B. Anthony, Abigail Adams, Laura Ingalls Wilder and Harriet Tubman repeatedly. I mean to the point I was asked to give the other kids a chance to read them.

My take on this study would be that it's true. I loved my Barbie's and was even in the Barbie Fan Club (there was such a thing) but when I played make-believe, I was Martha (her friends called her Patsy when she was a girl) waiting for my piano to arrive from overseas. I tried to ride my bicycle with both legs to the side like a photo I saw with Susan B. (Mom, that's why I wrecked so much). I was such a bad-ass as Abigail that I not only married a President, I gave birth to one too. I loved going to my Aunt Kay's who had a bonnet so I could pretend to be Laura Ingalls Wilder. No one gave me these books, I sought them out.

My favorite game with myself? I pretended to be Harriet Tubman and I took my dolls to freedom! I read every Harriet Tubman book I could get my hands on. I hid my dolls all around the house – the dryer, the freezer (I didn't understand this would probably kill them but…) any cubby or cabinet that looked like the evil slaveowners wouldn't figure out. I dragged them through the ‘rivers' and fields and kept going back to get more. We lived in Indiana near the great Levi Coffin house so I knew about hiding places and what some of the slaves had to endure in order to be free. I also grew up in an all-white, rural farming community and didn't understand until I was an adult how funny this game may seem for a little white girl.

What's my point? I didn't pretend to be a rock star, one of the glammies on my mom's soaps, or a supermodel. I pretended to be a President's wife (no female presidents back then – crossing fingers for it to happen soon), social reformer, author and people-saving SuperHero.

I grew up confident in many different areas of my life. When I read this study and thought about what I exposed myself too and what I was interested in I realized that's why I was able to start my business. I genuinely love what I do and know I can help people bring out the best of themselves. I'm not a ‘someday' type of person. When asked the secret of my success I usually answer that I'm not easily intimidated. Almost every partnership I have is based on an approach from me first. I think that's because I spent so much time imagining I didn't take no for an answer when I was a kid and exposing myself to books of real women who were real change agents.

What books did you read growing up? Do you wish you were introduced to real-life strong women or men that kicked ass in life or were you happy with your princess/prince or comic type superheros? No wrong answer here – just genuinely curious 🙂


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jim west

Principal and Managing Director, GFF Architects