My grandparents survived the Second World War, the devastating famine after the war, which took almost the 3rd of the Ukrainian population, and communist persecutions.
Their life philosophy was “work hard”. And they did work harder than anyone I know.
Their life has been nothing but the struggle for survival.
Cultivating potatoes, vegetables and fruit on the acres of land, tending domestic animals like pigs, chickens, gees, ducks, goats was all they did all the time.
It might seem like they had a big farm and should have been rich.
But no. They weren’t rich at all. They just didn’t starve.
My childhood memories are the ones of poverty and scarcity.
So the idea of working hard is not all it takes to succeed.
Some people say, you have to be smart to succeed in life.
Well, my dad is one of the smartest people I know.
He has two college degrees, he is brilliant with numbers and math ( which is genius in itself, in my view) and has worked as an engineer for about 30 years.
Yet, we didn’t have two pennies to rub together.
His friends use to ask my dad, “Leonid, if you are so smart, why are you so poor?”
To which he had no answer…
My dad had a friend, called Alek.
He had multiple kebab stands in our village in Ukraine. He was driving the latest German car ( at the time), lived in a three story house and every year was going abroad for holiday with his family.
And yet, his IQ was nowhere near my dad’s.
Besides, Alek didn’t work that hard either.
He had many people working for him.
I couldn’t understand what’s was missing. What was taught in our family: study and work hard to make it in life, didn’t add up.
Despite hard work and high IQ, we were struggling.