In his previous bestsellers, Think and Grow Rich and What Makes the Great Great, Dennis Kimbro revealed the success secrets of highly touted entrepreneurs, corporate climbers, and Olympic athletes, as well as famous black Americans from George Washington Carver to Bill Cosby, Oprah Winfrey, and Jesse Jackson. In What Keeps Me Standing, he turns to another group of sages and mentors: the grandmothers who have long been the backbone of the African American family and community.
Over a period of five years, Kimbro contacted one thousand grandmothers--women from a wide range of backgrounds and locations--asking, "If you had to write a one page letter to your children or the next generation, what would you tell them about life?" Their answers, collected here, show that success in life cannot be measured in terms of wealth and material goods alone. The lives they describe and the advice they proffer capture both a richness in spirit and a strong belief in the power of every individual to take charge of his or her own destiny. In the face of racism, both blatant and subtle, financial struggles, and personal setbacks, black grandmothers have helped their communities in thousands of tangible and intangible ways, providing support, inspiration, and love not only to their own children and grandchildren but also to neighbors, friends, and extended families.
Filled with examples of how even the smallest acts of kindness and compassion can make a difference in the world, What Keeps Me Standing is a treasure trove of the wisdom that comes with years of experience, transformation, and growth. It is the perfect gift.
"As anyone who has ever achieved the impossible can tell you, to move forward you've got to step out and do or say something that may make zero sense to anyone but you." This advice from Lucille Singleton, who first ran (and completed) the New York City Marathon at age 76, exemplifies the kind of astringent wisdom offered in this volume. Kimbro asked a thousand grandmothers to write letters to the next generation, and he reprints their responses here. A project that could have resulted in a mawkish collection of truisms is saved by the voices of the women themselves: these women have lived long, and sometimes hard, and they write forcefully--sometimes with grace and always with conviction. Although some of the authors' lives can seem distant in their hardship (growing up picking cotton in Jim Crow Louisiana, for example), they are examined unsentimentally, with an appreciation for what can be gained through tough circumstances."Today, when my children ask, 'What is success?,' I answer, 'It ain't standing still.' Quit crying and shuffling your feet. Show up, stand up, suit up, speak up, and fight the good fight." Faith plays a crucial role in these women's lives, as does family, education and good works. Many are appalled at what they see as a lack of morality today--too much violence, too many drugs and the dissolution of the family. Some, after raising one generation, are now raising their children's children as well. If there's a false note in this volume, it's brought in by Kimbro. The author of such books as Think and Grow Rich and What Makes the Great Great, Kimbro writes introductions that are too reminiscent of Dale Carnegie ("Fulfilling your potential is not your choice, it is your divine obligation"), and that feel like the only inauthenticities in an otherwise honest book.
What Keeps Me Standing
A book that you can refer back to that will force you to agree, wipe a tear, smile, shake your head, and more by the time you are finished with it. Highly recommended!