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Life and Leadership Lessons From my Mom

As we start Mother’s Day weekend (yes, I make it a whole weekend), I am filled with gratitude for my mom.  She raised me to be independent, strong, and to live our values.  She taught me to value hard work, family, advocating for what I believe in and to give back through volunteerism and service.  She did not micromanage and let us make our own decision with guidance and advice.  And she is always there for us, from cheering us on to providing unconditional love. 

And she seemed to do it all.  We had no family near us, so she created a network of close friends to become “our family”.  She worked full time, volunteered, was active in our church, and managed the household effortlessly.  I don’t know how she did it, and I am still trying to get to her level of productivity.

Throughout my corporate career, I found myself leveraging her words of wisdom as much in the board room as my living room.  Here are some of the wisdom she would impart on us regularly, and here’s how I have adapted it to my leadership roles:

  • ·      Do work that you love, so it never seems like work: it seems obvious, but it’s harder than you think.  She taught us that it’s not about the money, it’s about the purpose of your work. I’m doing that today and could not be happier.

  • ·      Financial freedom is important- don't rely on anyone to take care of you: We grew up in Seneca Falls NY, the birthplace of Women’s Rights.  There were so many lessons from history that she exposed us to.  But this mantra is one we heard in high school: self-sufficiency, independence and self-reliance. 

  • Don’t make any decisions for 3 months after taking a new role: Every time I would change jobs, get promoted, or move to a new career (and there were many), I would freak out, doubt my abilities and say, “I can’t do this”.  My mom would remind me not to make any decisions for 3 months.  It would always work out. 

  • Stand up for what you believe in: My mom is an advocate.  And she taught us to be advocates for what we are passionate about.  This has shaped my volunteer work and the organizations I support.  In my career I channeled these words to advocate for my employees, my seat at the table, and the projects I was leading.

  • You cannot project manage people- no matter how hard you try: This one makes me laugh every time she says it to me.  As a former project manager, I have been known to try to PM my daughter's special needs journey, my son’s study habits, and on and on.  At work I can’t tell you how many relationships I thought I could PM my way through....and it never worked. People can’t be PM’d.

My mom is the kind of person who is almost always right...and boy did I find that annoying (and still do today). 

But her lessons have helped to shape who I am in my career and every other aspect of my life.  And whether you are a mom to children, fur-babies, or are a “second mom” to someone special, I hope you take a moment to reflect on all the wonderful ways you shape those around you and give thanks to those who have shaped you. 

Happy Mother's Day!

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