“No matter what you do in your life work, your success ultimately depends on who you have around you- on who’s got your back.”

This advice comes from the self-proclaimed “skinny,white, Southern Oprah,” Ms. Rita Davenport.  Davenport is joking when she says that (she jests often), though did host a daytime talk show for some time.  In her book, “Funny Side Up,” Rita tells readers all about her life and lessons learned.  

Growing up, Rita’s family was extremely poor and expectations for what she should do with her life were very low.  For some reason Rita never considered her circumstances in life permanent and when people told her no, or that she could not do something, she went right on ahead and did it.  This attitude led her to college, to several successful careers, to a family of her own, and it led her to help many people and spread love in our world.

On a few occasions I crossed paths with Rita during her career as a public speaker and as President of a major network marketing company.  As a public speaker she gives a true gift to her audience, as she does in her book, captivating people with stories of her journey through life and offering lessons of a lifetime sprinkled with side-splitting hilarity.  If you hear Rita speak, she will absolutely have you laughing to tears.  Her knack for balancing her stories with experience, wisdom and laughter is amazing! When “Funny Side Up,” came out it was immediately on my “to-read” list and well worth it.

You know me and quotes, so there were dozens of Funny Side Up quotes I might have picked to share with you, but of all of my favorites there is a reason I wanted you to give thought to this one.  “No matter what you do in your life work, your success ultimately depends on who you have around you- on who’s got your back.”  Rita provides a great deal of examples of instances when she was told she could not, but then she did.  So many times she heard, “don’t get your hopes up,” but she did anyway.  What she came to believe is that the company she keeps is so important.  It is not the first time I have heard this and I, too, have grown to believe its validity.

Have you ever been with a few people who are having a great time, laughing and joking? Can you help but laugh along with them? What about being around someone miserable? Do you mute your own mood so as not to appear too cheery? Does their attitude seep into your pores? Moods, attitudes, thoughts and beliefs are all contagious.  Someone who is told he cannot most likely begins to believe he cannot.  Someone who is told she is not good enough, most likely begins to believe she is not good enough.  Conversely, those who are lifted upon the shoulders of others reach for the stars.  Rita’s advice is to surround yourself with the ones who lift you up.

It does not end there.  You can choose to stop there, or you can pay it forward.  I do not need to tell you what Rita advises.  A kind word, a hug, encouragement, mentorship- there is an abundance of love and support we can give one another. That alone is a lesson of a lifetime, but “Funny Side Up” is chock full of those. One thing is for sure: if you need some lifting up, you can pick dozens of mentors by reading their books.  I hope that those around you inspire you and support you.  Whether that is true or is not necessarily the case for you (and you should give thought to that), look to some accomplished, positive, leaders who share the lessons of their lives and provide motivation in their books.  Borrow their belief, enthusiasm and passion.  Then, be like Rita and do not accept anyone telling you, “you can’t.”

Who inspires you in your life, friend or author? Leave a short note on my blog or A Balanced Life’s Facebook page and I will enter you in a drawing to win my copy of Funny Side Up by Ms. Rita Davenport.  Like Rita says, “Love ya!”


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    Jennifer Loebel