Wednesday morning I had the pleasure of hearing motivational speaker, Rene Godefroy, at the Prairie View Food for Thought series in Hutchinson, Kansas. This series brings some wonderful folks to speak, but this was exceptional.
Godefroy was born in Haiti, and lived in the small village with another lady while his mother went to Port au Prince to work. He said when he got to see his mother some years later and she hugged him for the first time in ages he, “felt like a giant.”
He went to Canada with a theatre company and came into the US illegally 25 years ago praying, “If you help me make it to the US, I promise I will not waste my life.” He dreamed of living in the US and still feels blessed to be living here.
Unable to speak English, Rene arrived in Brooklyn with just five dollars, two shirts and one pair of pants. Knowing there was a large Haitian population in Miami he went there. He joked Miami was not a good place to learn English – that he learned Spanish before he learned English.
He worked at a variety of jobs, one of which was washing cars in a bank parking lot until a new maintenance person told him he couldn’t do that anymore. He talked about how he used to imagine what went on on the top floor of the bank and thought maybe one day he could empty the trash up there. But he said eventually that experience played into his first rule by teaching him that “Life is a series of rejections.”
He also realized later that to reach his eventual dreams he had to be a different person than the one who was thinking about emptying trash. And, he became that person and was invited by the bank president, years later, to come up to that top floor for a gathering. He mentioned the Einstein quote, “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”
This quote really resonated with me. I had read it before, but had forgotten it and there is some real wisdom in that.
For some years he worked as a doorman at a hotel in Atlanta. When he was parking cars he would notice the books people had in their cars and go get a copy and read it so he learned about some of the great business strategies. Now he has his own book, “Kick Your Excuses Goodbye.”
He would carry the bags of speakers who were coming in for events and at night when he was doing set up he would visualize that he was the speaker. Eventually, that came true and he was.
He has five strategies he shares that took him from poverty to living the American dream.
1. Stop rehearsing the past.
2. Always go the extra mile.
3. Decide and act.
4. It’s a process. Not an event.
5. Have a Honey attitude (find the sweetness in everyone).
These really resonated with me. Some of them reminded me of my own Rules for Living. My number three rule is almost the same as his.
When I read his first one – stop rehearsing the past – it suddenly struck me that maybe this is why I don’t like to look at old journals or photographs. For reasons I don’t understand it makes me sad, even if the events are not sad. So, I don’t do it. Why would I do something that makes me sad? Maybe it’s one way I don’t rehearse the past.
The idea of it’s a process, not an event, is one I really need to grasp. I have been working on this for awhile now, although I didn’t have it phrased this way. I decided a few months ago to “Let go of the ‘how’ and Prepare for the ‘when’,” trusting the universe to provide the “how” if I was ready for it “when” it came along.
The concept of just being nice and going the extra mile is something I’ve been working on for a few years. I’ve learned to just be pleasant to people as much as I can muster, even if I don’t feel it, because there’s no point in not being. I had an opportunity to do that very thing tonight and I failed so I’ll try to do better tomorrow. It’s most difficult for me when I’m frustrated, and that was the situation tonight. Alas, perhaps the next time around I’ll do a better job, although I hope it’s not with this particular thing again.
It was very interesting and I’m so glad I went. I continue to try and get people to attend the Food for Thought series, with little effect. It’s a pity because they have some amazing events and people are missing out. But, there’s nothing I can do about that. Peggy came, and I was so glad she was able to use my extra ticket. It’s always fun to see her and she enjoys the lectures as much as I do.
Godefroy’s speech left me with much to think about and I absolutely love that.
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