How do you celebrate Mother’s Day this weekend? What life lessons did your mom teach you? My mom was my first business advisor and coach. She was always teaching me something new. She never stopped learning and sharing.
There are many life lessons my mother shared with me throughout our life together. I thought I’d share a few of lessons I learned from my mom in hopes that it reminds you of some wonderful memories this Mother’s Day weekend.
My mother taught me to stand on my own, don’t just go along with the crowd. She was a multi-racial child in the 1930s here in the Midwest. She didn’t fit in because she was neither black nor white. She just was. The stories she shared with others have brought many people to tears. It was a very hard life for her and her family.
She didn’t want sympathy, she wanted to be heard. She was an early feminist. She worked hard in a factory with men who didn’t always share her beliefs about the role women should have in our society. She was once told to go home and have more babies.
I remember when she was promoted into a man’s role as paint chip color matcher, the men working with her decided that she shouldn’t have this new higher paying role. Even though a large portion of the male population suffers from some degree color blindness they felt being male was the most important qualification for this higher paying job. Not that they could accurately match colors.
These men tried to force her to quit by hanging sexy images of women all around her work station. Industrial calendars and centerfolds completely enveloped her work station. How did she respond? She went out and bought as many copies of Cosmo with the Burt Reynolds centerfold as she could find. She hung them around the factory floor.
She then was summoned to the union steward’s office where a male union representative told her to take down her images because it was making men uncomfortable. I can only guess what she said, but what she shared is she was going to organize a union where working women’s interests were met.
She would later say the loss of union dues from the many women who sided with her caused a change in policy at her employer. They couldn’t afford a walk out. She had won the war if not the battle. My mother’s first life lesson was always keep the bigger picture in mind.
My mother’s second life lesson was dealing with other’s discrimination. She believed that discrimination was a lack of knowledge of a person different than you are. She felt that the more people knew about each other the less discrimination would exist.
My mother had an incredible gift for becoming like who ever she was with. It didn’t matter who the person was my mother would find something in common with them and then begin building a bridge to them.
When I was selling vacuums door to door, she told me everyone wants a clean house. It’s just a matter of how much they want it. As a sales person it’s your job to find the people who are willing to pay for it.
I can remember after a day of knocking on doors, I’d come home and share stories with my mother, and she would listen. She then would coach me on how to be a better sales professional.
She would always make me laugh. It was very hard to stay down when Coach Mom was on the case. My mother’s third life lesson was you can do anything you want if you’re willing to work hard on it.
She introduced me to writing by Zig Ziglar and Tom Hopkins. She would sit and listen to their tapes with me when I would come home after a long day of work.
She would ask me to try out the different sales closes with her and she would say no, repeatedly. She was tireless. I’m not certain I would have made it as a sales person if it wasn’t for her support and persistence.
My mother taught me how to ask great questions. She taught me how to use humor when selling to people with significant money. She taught me sales was a numbers game. To be successful in life you must work the numbers.
My mother was an insatiable reader. She was always reading and sharing new books with family and friends. She volunteered at a large Goodwill when I was in college. Every time I came home on the bus to do laundry, she would have gently read books for me to take back to school. One bag for laundry, one bag for books.
She was always sharing art books, sci-fi, or leadership books. She would go through the books when they would come into the Goodwill and buy them for me. She would kid me about how much money she was losing volunteering at Goodwill. You never knew what books she would put in the bag.
She used to say you could never have to many good books as friends. She just loved to read and share new ideas with me. My mother fourth life lesson was you should always be learning and growing.
My mother was a loving person. She suffered with mental illness for all my life. She battled chronic depression, she tried to take her own life, and later battled Alzheimer’s and dementia. She had it bad. You’ve heard of a mean drunk. My mother could be mean mom. Not that she could control it. She couldn’t.
That’s the point. My mother’s final life lesson was all of us are going to age, learn to embrace it fully. Even at the end of her life she would humble me with the quality of her advice when I was working with people who were dying. She always had a funny story or a joke to share to help break the awkwardness of the situation.
As many of us start seeing our Mothers slipping into early stages of Alzheimer’s and dementia, its critical to remember the good times you had with your Mom. I know I do.
As you celebrate Mother’s Day this weekend, take time to consider what gifts your mother shared with you. Give her a hug, whisper in her ear how much you love her, just be with her. Learn to celebrate your time with her.
Happy Mother’s Day!