Take Your Mom’s Advice!

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May 10, 2011
In honor of celebrating Mother’s Day this past weekend, I thought I would share an article that I came across entitled, 10 Pearls of Motherly Wisdom.  This article talks about how your mom’s words of wisdom were not just general advice for when you were younger, but could also be applied to your career and how you conduct yourself at work and in other professional settings.  As I was reading through the article I could hear flashbacks of my mom saying (sometimes yelling) the exact phrases that were referenced in the article.   When I was younger I would sometimes (okay a lot of times) cringe when I heard the same phrases for the ten thousandth time.  The depth of my cringing was mostly dependent upon what her tone was when she said it.  However, now that I am older (and much wiser), I now know why she was so persistent in her teachings.  My parents have raised 3 hard-working kids that know the value of a dollar and the hard work it takes to earn that dollar…nobody’s going to just give it to you.   

After reading through the article, I thought of a couple of other things that my parents would always say to us that have held true in every endeavor of my life. 

  • "The squeaky wheel always gets the grease."  My mom actually just reminded me of this saying last week.  So often it seems that those people (family, friends, coworkers, etc.) who make the most noise (typically not in a good way) get the most attention from others.  In the professional setting it can be frustrating at times to see those that are constantly complaining and wreaking havoc get catered to and little attention is given or input is sought from those that are not nearly as vocal or demanding in their concerns.  Although I am a strong believer in standing up for yourself and what you believe in, I also feel just as strongly that there comes a point when you back down for the sake of your reputation and the situation.  In situations like this, I’ve always told myself that as long as I continue to take the professional route, it will be apparent to my manager that I am not a complainer and eventually my professional attitude and demeanor will win out over those that feel a need to constantly voice concerns and demand for things to go their way.   

  • "Winners never quit and quitters never win."  My parents were firm believers that anything worth doing is worth doing 100%.  In our household, that meant that if you were ever going to give up on something it better be because you have exhausted all efforts and avenues for being successful.  We were taught not to just throw your hands up and walk away from something just because it was the slightest bit difficult.  This allowed us to prove to ourselves and others that with smart thinking, hard work and collaboration, what once seemed like a daunting task could oftentimes be easily accomplished.  The same is true in a professional setting.  If you are that person that is always "quitting" and giving up on a project before you’ve truly given it good effort, you will quickly lose credibility with your team and your manager.

  • "Suck it up and tough it out, and be the best you can." (from John Mellencamp’s "Minutes to Memories")  Life isn’t easy.  Work isn’t easy.  But the worst thing you can do is give up and start pouting about how life isn’t fair.  You also don’t want to act like my brothers and I did when we were younger and run out of the room, slam the door, yell "that’s not fair", and start pouting.  Side story: My youngest brother, Russ, would even yell into the other room to tell my parents that he was still pouting.  Just in case they had forgotten!  Anyway, back on track.  How you perform in stressful, difficult situations will not only be a true test of your character, but also a great learning opportunity for you to use in future situations.  Your response can also be a perfect example for your manager to use in future performance reviews.  What do you want their feedback to be to you?  That you sucked it up, struggled through, and made the best of the situation, or that you folded like a cheap suit and hid in the cracks until the storm was over? 
  • "You don’t always have to have the last word."  If you asked my husband, he would tell you that this lesson hasn’t fully sunk in with me yet.  When discussing a topic that I am passionate about, I sometimes have difficulty with not making the last statement.  However, I have learned that you sometimes just have to let a conversation end with someone else’s comment, even if you disagree.  If you have made your point and stated your case in an effective manner, it shouldn’t matter who has the last word.  It is not worth ruining a relationship or desired outcome over a few words.  What is more important is that you maintain a high level of professionalism and maturity and end the conversation in as positive a manner as possible. 

I could go on and on.  These phrases that annoyed me to no end when I was little are a key part of who I am as a person and working professional.  They’re my daily check and balance system for how to act and react to people and situations.  So my advice to you is that you not forget those little comments and words of advice that your parents (especially your mom) gave you and probably continues to give you.  Whether you want to acknowledge it or not, they will come into play more often in your professional life than you even realize.  I’m very lucky that I get to talk to my mom every morning on my drive into work and she still finds a way to work those phrases in just about every week.  After I’m done rolling my eyes at them, I really do try to take them to heart because I know that I will probably need to reference them at some point in the future. 

I hope all of the mothers (and mothers-to-be) reading this had a wonderful Mother’s Day!  I would love to hear any phrases or advice that your parents used on you or that you use on your children!