The Value of Believing in Yourself

In the wedding / event industry – and really, just small business in general – there are many times when you have to fill out questionnaires about yourself and your business. Whether it’s for an interview, a profile on a website, or even just for a bio on your own website.. you really find yourself answering the same few questions repeatedly. You know, “How long have you been in the business?”, “How did you get your start in the business?” etc.

Bah.

Well, early this morning I was filling out another such questionnaire, and was pleasantly surprised by a question I’d never been asked before: “Is there a book, person, or story that comes to mind which has had a strong impact on your career?”. Wow! I like it!

I’m sure that there are “proper” answers to that question… something by Preston Bailey, or Martha Stewart… maybe a business book… who knows. My answer came to mind immediately, and immersed me in a sense of not only nostalgia, but confidence and happiness. It definitely inspired me to write a blog entry, so indulge me while I share!

My answer is a fairly obscure children’s book from the 70’s, from the Value Tales series: The Value of Believing in Yourself : The Story of Louis Pasteur. I owned it when I was 4, maybe 5 years old. Weird as it may be, silly as it may sound.. it really has had more impact on any book I’ve read since! I can still visualize the illustrations in my mind!

It was the story of how Pasteur, one of the fathers of microbiology, developed germ theory and created the vaccine for rabies. I’ll spare you all of the nerdy details. I knew from the age of about 5 that I wanted to be a scientist, that I wanted to work with diseases, and that I really looked up to Louis Pasteur as a role model.

Yes. While other kids would name athletes, musicians, or movie stars as role models.. I looked up to Louis Pasteur. I was a weird kid, but I maintain to this DAY that he is a much better role model! (I’m looking at you, Tiger Woods!). Anyway, I digress. The book was inspiring on many levels.

For one, it formed the basis for my early love of science, and experimentation. While I did end up very off track from my original life goal of a career in virology, I’ve never stopped enjoying experimentation. I think that comes out in my flavors list nicely, in some of the design techniques I’ve developed, as well as in my upcoming cook books. While none of that is ever going to get my name immortalized in any science textbook… that book was foundational to my lifelong love of learning.

On another level, I really do think that the book accomplished it’s main goal – I do think I learned “The value of believing in myself” from it. In the early days of microbiology, a lot of germ theory seemed VERY off the wall.. and a lot of people thought that Pasteur was kind of off his rocker. He had ideas that could be regarded as weird or crazy, and believed in himself enough to develop them, see them through. We now vaccines, a much better knowledge of immunology, and pasteurization, all of a result of his “crazy” ideas.

While my “crazy” ideas are never as history-impacting as his were, I do believe that the book had formative impact on my desire and ability to not only think outside the box, but to just go for it, and really see crazy ideas through to fruition. I think THAT has really gone a long way to making work – and life – fun!

“The Value of Believing in Yourself” was from a series of about 40 formulaic books. Each told a fictionalized story of a historical figure, illustrating a certain “Value”. There were titles for values such as Adventure (Sacagawea), Leadership (Winston Churchill), Determination (Helen Keller), and so forth. “Believing in Yourself” was the only one I owned, unfortunately 🙁

The books have sadly been out of print for a long time, and it’s really unfortunate. If the rest of the books were anywhere near as good as the one I owned, I truly don’t think that any household with kids should be without the entire set. A bold statement to be sure… but damn, being impacted by that book almost 3 decades later? To have it be the first thing to come to mind when asked that question? Even after giving hard thought to whether or not there were any other books that have affected me so, I draw a complete blank. THAT is a powerful book!

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