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4 Business Lessons I Learned From My 103 Year Old Grandma…

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This past weekend we hauled the family up to Maryland to celebrate the 103rd birthday of my husband’s grandmother.

This woman is a total inspiration. She owned and operated her own hotel in Ocean City into her mid-eighties. She stopped driving at 95. She just went to a nursing home two years ago – before that, she was cooking her own meals and living in her own apartment by herself.

Determined? Yes. Inspirational? You bet!

On the car ride home I started realizing how much can be learned from this magnificent woman. It’s what I’m going to share with you today…

4 Business Lessons I Learned from my 103 Year Old Grandma

Look on the Bright Side

Hazel Vouris, age 103, is one of the most inspirational people I know. I remember a few years ago, she requested that we drive her to see an old friend. The moment that we sat down for tea in this 85 year old woman’s home, she (the friend) started complaining.

“I’m doing terrible. My back hurts. My legs hurt. The neighbors are too loud and my sister won’t call me back….”

We sat and listened to this woman complain for a solid 20 minutes. Exhausted from her own babbling, she leaned back and said, “How are you doing, Hazel?”

Hazel just smiled, closed her eyes and said, “Oh… I’m blessed”.

This woman had learned that the key to happiness is gratefulness. She was much older than this other woman, and likely had more pains to ache about, but she chose to focus on what was good in her life.

What are you grateful for? When difficulties in your life or business get overwhelming, take a moment to stop and be grateful for what you have. It will change everything.

Be Generous

While visiting Hazel this past weekend for her birthday, she became SO excited for the gifts. Nope, not the gifts we gave her (which included yarn and Hershey chocolate bars), but for the gifts she had made for us. Her face lit up and she handed me a hand-crocheted doily. She went on about all of its incredible uses and the best way to make sure it would lay flat.

Giving can be even more rewarding than receiving. If you are at a place where you aren’t getting much in your business (in terms of money or fulfillment), step back and see if you are GIVING in your business. Try it. You’ll be amazed at the results!

Be Hard Headed

World-renowned soccer player, David Beckham, speaks to his own stubbornness. “I’m a very stubborn person. I think it has helped me over my career. I’m sure it has hindered me at times as well, but not too many times. I know that if I set my mind to do something, even if people are saying I can’t do it, I will achieve it” (source).

One of the most admirable personality traits of my grandmother is her ability to just keep going. She doesn’t let anything stop her, or let anyone tell her that she can’t. If she wants to do something, she does it. She lived her life as a woman without limitations and accomplished so much because of it.

Who’s to tell you that you can’t? Get stubborn.

Eat Sausage Biscuits

I remember a few years back, we went to visit Hazel for the weekend. We got to her house early, in time for breakfast. When asked if we could take her out for breakfast, she replied, “No, I’ll just eat what I eat every morning”. At that, she pulled a box of Jimmy Dean sausage biscuits out of the freezer to make for breakfast.

No, I’m not telling you to eat a sausage biscuit every morning for breakfast (although… my grandmother is 103 and still going strong…). What I am saying is don’t forget to treat yourself. Is a frozen biscuit probably best for my grandmother’s health? No… but she likes it. It’s something special that she enjoys for herself each day.

What do you do for you? It’s easy as an entrepreneur to get so caught up in your business that you forget to do the little things that make you happy. Watch your favorite sci-fi. Have a laugh with a friend. Eat a sausage biscuit. We only have one life to live on earth – enjoy it.

business lessons

15 Comments

  1. Alp on May 10, 2016 at 6:57 am

    I knew it. Sausage Biscuits are the secret to longevity.

    Thank you for sharing this story, Abbey.

    I have a confession to make:

    I hate it when people tell me to be grateful. But when you shared that anecdote with Hazel and her friend, the “Oh, I’m blessed” really brought it home.

    It’s so genuine that it catches you off guard, and penetrates through the cynicism.

    Hazel’s an inspiration. Thank you for sharing her story with us.

    • Abbey Ashley on May 10, 2016 at 7:03 am

      It was probably the best lesson in gratefulness I had ever received!

      #eatabiscuit

    • Tekia Bradley on September 20, 2016 at 10:45 pm

      Thanks I’m very inspired and you’re so on point I’m 39 and complain about everything, but his has made me feel so ungrateful.

  2. Eowyn on December 1, 2016 at 12:01 pm

    Thank you for posting this!! I’m going to take Sausage Biscuits with me forever 🙂 I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how we need to pay attention to what we love and what makes us feel happy and rich in small ways. These frozen Jimmy Deans are the perfect example! Life can get crowded out with healthy, productive, important, responsible events and things and the joy can be squeezed into non-existence. Here’s to small humble dollops of joy each day.

  3. Thersa on September 1, 2017 at 7:17 am

    Wow, this is a topic that has been on my mind a lot. Being grateful opens the doors for a lot of good to happen in your life. Giving is also very rewarding.

    • Abbey Ashley on September 5, 2017 at 4:53 pm

      You’re so right, Thersa! I’m glad the post was timely for you. <3

  4. Evah on September 2, 2017 at 6:21 am

    Hi Abbey,

    If I was living in the US, I would find some time to go to Maryland and visit Grandma Hazel. She is truly inspirational!

    Thank you for sharing her life with us. She is 103 with a big heart and an awesome perspective of life…

    Regards,
    Evah (From Kenya)

  5. Tina on September 2, 2017 at 5:27 pm

    I love it that Hazel doesn’t let what other people say to stop her. It’s something that I struggle with and I’m inspired by her.

    • Abbey Ashley on September 5, 2017 at 4:52 pm

      Hey Tina, I’m so glad you found this blog post helpful! We’re all in this together. 🙂

  6. Rene Kelley on September 6, 2017 at 11:12 am

    Thank you for the reminders with this inspirational true story. God bless your grandmother!

    • Abbey Ashley on September 12, 2017 at 2:35 pm

      Thanks for the kind words Rene!

  7. Karis Miles on September 22, 2017 at 10:10 am

    Thank you so much for sharing this Abbey! This lesson on gratefulness was right on time and a blessing to me.

    • Abbey Ashley on September 26, 2017 at 1:18 pm

      No problem Karis! I am so happy that you found it helpful and that the timing worked. 🙂

  8. Shani Dee on November 28, 2017 at 8:11 pm

    Sound just like something my 100-year-old grandma would say! Go words to live by…

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