Feeling Thankful vs. Feeling Entitled: What it Means to be Human Part 5- Reflections on Gratitude

“It’s only when we truly know and understand that we have a limited time on earth, we will then begin to live each day to the fullest.”

– Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

“The things you do for yourself are gone when you are gone, but the things you do for others remain as your legacy.”

– Kalu Kalu

It’s the week before Thanksgiving, and I am thinking of all the reasons I have to be thankful. To be grateful for the opportunities I’ve been given. To be mindful of the need to “pay it forward” and help others, especially the children of the world, our greatest legacy. I’m on a personal and professional journey to build a better version of myself and leave a legacy behind.

I was raised with these values, which really hit home when I lost my best friend and mentor to breast cancer a year ago. It home again when I heard about the devastation in the Philippines from the typhoon, the latest bombing in Iraq, and the latest snafu with Obamacare. It’s times like these that one seeks out thought leadership and innovative, “outside the box” solutions to the global problems impacting us all; two things entrepreneurs provide, and if not, should.

Thought leadership and collaborative problem solving are foregone conclusions now in the social entrepreneurship arena. That is why I wrote an introductory white paper about The NICE Initiative for Female Entrepreneurship, launching soon, when my book is published. You can access it from my Slideshare account. In it I wrote:

“At the end of the day, your reactions and actions at specific moments in time are what shape you; as a thinking human being, as a potential hero/heroine for others. You already have within you many tools to fuel your dreams, and help you bridge that gap between aspiration and achievement. The whole world’s a stage, and we are all players in the greatest show on earth. You have one of the best seats in the house….what with social media, the Internet, and cheaper travel costs! All of which are making it easier than ever, to search for, and learn from heroes and heroines all over the globe. I hope you will attend the show, and keep your ticket as proof of purchase. Living a life of higher purpose means that you have actively chosen to purchase moments that define you….. and immortalize you in the eyes of those whose lives you touch.”

That’s why I am honored, humbled, and eager to join other Hack For Big Choices panelists at the Hackathon II  in Palo Alto, CA on 11/25/13 to discuss The Future of Education in a Globally Connected World . Stay tuned for my reflections on that event….

These days, I truly appreciate the concept of civic engagement, sharing ideas, sharing resources, and fostering a legacy. One which is so much more than material goods collected and reallocated. I believe that women are in a unique position to be linchpins in the Entrepreneurial Revolution, to orchestrate change; economical, social, and educational change. I’ve said it before, and will do so again, until more women, especially in the healthcare and educational arenas heed my call to action. You see, I truly believe:

Entrepreneurship is a state of mind, not just a career choice to amass profit.

This is what’s driving me to write a series of posts in my Tumblr Blog about ways to Act Like an Architect, Think Like an Artist. I’m the kid who colored outside the lines in preschool and drew elaborate cartoon stories, badly, but creatively. I’m the adult who loves old houses/buildings and art museums, and try to visit them wherever I go. I’m the one trying to do things in an orderly, predicable fashion, while retaining my sense of play, of fun, of the unexpected.

I got a bit whimsical with my visual imagery for my book’s video trailer, which you can see on Vimeo. I’m the educational technology consultant/speech therapist spreading the message that true educational best practices for children with Autism/special needs involves the methodical integration of toys and tech. In fact, I used good old fashioned toys in my book’s video trailer, partially because I’m a child-centric educator at heart, and partially to remind us not to forget our pasts and

Our own inner child. See my article for The Huffington Post, on what children teach entrepreneurs.

Our own inner struggle to balance humanity with technology in today’s gadget-hungry, fast paced, increasingly complicated lifestyles. See Jay Deragon’s blogpost, The Influence of Technology on Humanity, and think, really think about what he writes so well. I read his blog The Relationship Economy regularly.

I write about this juggling act, the concept of social entrepreneurship for profit and the greater good, and the need for other startup entrepreneurs to think about the legacy and philanthropy they can provide from the start, in my upcoming book, The NICE Reboot. Here are a few excerpts:

People today think in terms of “stuff”. Amassing stuff; household items, gadgets, and money. I’m not saying money is irrelevant or unimportant. I’m just saying that if you are becoming an entrepreneur to make money quickly and easily, you are in for a rude awakening, especially in this economy! Speculation about the impact from the amount of people killed in the US armed forces and/or living stateside without jobs, including recent college graduates, has never been so rampant. Since the days of the Civil War, it seems that collective national morale has never been so low. Our economy has been affected, our collective mood has been affected, and our altruistic and philanthropic tendencies have certainly been affected. 

 It is said, that in the years after the Civil War, when many people came to terms with lives lost, a way of life discontinued, and the need to rethink their plans, there was a huge push, a migration, to settle the untamed Western frontier. A common question was then asked. It was asked in saloons, wagon trains, and farms. It was asked of family and friends, strangers, and neighbors. “What’s on your tombstone?”. 

 Leaving a legacy behind is not just a religious, cultural, legal, or business aspiration. There’s a Capital One Bank TV commercial that asks, “What’s in your wallet?”. Same question, different era. But this question is a valid one. It does make you think. How do you want to be remembered? If your days were numbered, what would you want to focus on? I have been thinking of this a lot, since I lost my best friend and mentor to cancer, and since I became an entrepreneur during one of the worst and longest recessions in recent years.  It is something Steve Jobs seemed to have thought about too, when he gave the commencement speech at Stanford University in 2005. He said, “Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.”

I believe that the journey of entrepreneurship, filled with challenges that are ethical, psychological, and spiritual, require us to ask that question of ourselves. Women, female educators, and mothers in particular, (being the ones who biologically give birth), are in a great position to nurture and influence the moral and intellectual compass in children. It is in our female DNA to grow, nurture, and care about the welfare of our children and their children. We are hard wired to measure overall job satisfaction and pride in our performance, by calibrating how much of a positive impact we have on community, not just ourselves. 

 We are thus particularly receptive to being sensitive to this version of the concept of a legacy. No one can pinpoint the exact moment something a child sees them do or say, will have a domino effect, that may be felt decades later. No one can discount the importance of giving back, contributing to the world somehow, in altruistic and sustainable manners, to make it a better place for future generations of children.

I wrote this in my white paper on Slideshare, but it bears repeating here….

“When an entrepreneur starts his/her journey, it is important to consider the impact that journey, that Story, will have on other people’s Story. It is crucial to think about the one service/product that in essence becomes the entrepreneur’s “lightening in a bottle” and dream product. One that will affect every other endeavor and service that entrepreneur embarks on and provides.”

It is important to think about what an MVP (minimally viable product) really is, and how it contributes to both the disruptive innovation and legacy the entrepreneur is trying to create.

This week, I am taking a page from the Pilgrims, and pondering their Story. Their lives, their legacy, and the lessons we can learn from them. I listed 3 of them in my latest article for The Huffington Post. Fostering a legacy begins with changing your mindset. It starts with the will and the mindfulness i.e. the deliberate actions to become a better person. This article, by Joyce Marter, Ten Ways to Evolve and Be a Better Person can help. So can inculcating a mindset of gratitude. Feeling entitled and jealous of other people’s lives and success, is actually detrimental to one’s mental, emotional, and physical wellbeing. This is especially true for female entrepreneurs. I’ll leave you with some great tips by Tai Goodwin, in her recent article for The Huffington Post; Five Reasons It Pays to Get Happy About Other People’s Success.

I wish you all continued success in ALL your endeavors, and more importantly, the ability to be thankful for what you have, and to share that with others, for the greater good.

Happy Thanksgiving,


Oprah on Attitude




About penina4niceinitiative

Penina Rybak MA/CCC-SLP, TSHH, CEO of Socially Speaking LLC, is the author of "The NICE Reboot: A Guide to Becoming a Better Female Entrepreneur". She is an Autism specialist and educational technology consultant turned social entrepreneur. She is also a pediatric speech therapist and the creator of the Socially Speaking™ Program & iPad App. Her second book, "Autism Intervention in the iEra" was published in 2015. Since 2010, Penina has been a national/international speaker about social communication development, balancing humanity and technology, and best practices re: mobile and social technology. Connect with her on LinkedIn to learn more. You can also find her on Twitter: @PopGoesPenina, Facebook: Socially Speaking LLC, Google+ at The NICE Initiative for Female Entrepreneurship, and Pinterest and YouTube as well.
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