Know Where You Stand in the Swirling Chaos

I was lucky to know three of my four grandparents before they passed, and it’s clear to me now how much they taught me. My paternal grandmother had the biggest impact. She was born in 1900, lived through the depression, lost her husband unexpectedly, worked multiple jobs, and had a habit of never throwing anything out. In spite of all the challenges she faced, she raised three boys as a single parent including putting them through college, volunteered in her community, and contributed to her church as an active member.

With all the turmoil in her life, I wonder, how did she do it?

Growing up, I didn’t think about such things. I was more focused on toys. In fact, one of my fondest memories was visiting her home and discovering toys I’d never seen anywhere else. We didn’t make the trip all that often, so each visit maintained a magical feel. She had old board games and a wooden bowling set, but the item that always occupied most of my time was the gyroscope.

I remember pulling the starter cord that set it in motion and watching it wildly twist and turn, seemingly jerking in three different directions. It seemed liked magic. (If you haven’t seen one before, take a look!) How could this simple toy rotate on three different axes and not fall over?

As I reflect on it now, the gyroscope and Grammy Miller are linked for me in an important way. They each remind me of the importance of one question:

How can you stay grounded when everything around you seems to be in chaos? 

The answer: know where you stand.

It’s true that when you think about a gyroscope, your attention is seldom drawn to the stand it sits on. But it’s the solid foundation provided by the stand that supports all the activity that swirls in three different directions above.

Similarly, Grammy Miller never spoke about her stand, which was her values. Her stand provided the solid foundation on which she relied. Grammy’s values were her faith, her family, and her community service. She was a strong, church-going woman who modeled hard work, faith, and a love of family. It was always clear that she faced the turmoil in her life by relying on these values. She knew what mattered most.

So as you do your best to balance what’s happening at work, at home, and in your community, do you know where you stand?