My Mom recently moved out of the house that she and Dad moved into more than 45 years ago. It’s amazing how much history surfaces after you have been hunkered down in a place for that many years. So many things get put away in boxes and forgotten about. The picture above is one of those things. I had never, ever seen it before. This is my Dad in front of his printing shop in a small town in northern Minnesota, circa 1950. I knew that Dad owned his own print shop many years ago. After that, he owned a series of small town newspapers and when he retired he went back to his first love: letterpress printing.
I have fallen so totally in love with this photo in the last few days since it surfaced. It’s the wallpaper on my computer and I just can’t stop looking at it. My Dad loved a challenge and he loved to work hard and he loved to bullshit. He and Mom raised eight children, all of whom absolutely adored him. I’ve missed that guy every single day since his death almost 11 years ago.
The reason this picture has resonated so deeply with me, though, is not just the reminder of who my Dad was and what a great human being he was, but the reminder of where I come from. This reminder couldn’t have come at a better time than when I’m about to publish my very first book. Dad was an entrepreneur. Always. He was always a small-town business owner and when things weren’t challenging enough anymore, it was time to move on. His roots? Grandpa was an entrepreneur. He was trained as a lawyer but owned his own small town print shop, too. Both he and Grandma were homesteaders on the high, dusty plains of North Dakota. Grandma, who was also the town’s first postmistress, lied about her age so she could claim her piece of land.
What must it have been like to live back then when such frontiers were still being breached? The beauty of this question is that I’m about to find out. There’s never been a better time to be an artist of any sort – writer, musician, photographer, painter. The incredible connections that the world wide web provides this generation has created its own kind of frontier. The only thing required to join the fray is hard work, the ability to rise up to the challenge and the courage to push the “publish” button.
I read a great quote from Robin Sharma the other day: “Greatness lies just outside your comfort zone.” I sincerely hope that is true. It’s taken me half my life to step outside my comfort zone to publish this book. But looking at this picture wraps me in the knowledge that I come from people who weren’t afraid to step outside their comfort zone. If I work hard, rise to the challenge, and pick myself back up when I fall, I know that Dad will be smiling down on my efforts to carry on the family entrepreneurial spirit.