“The best years of your life are the ones in which you decide your problems are your own. You do not blame them on your mother, the ecology or the president. You realize that you control your own destiny.” – Albert Ellis (1913-2007) American Psychotherapist
When it comes to growing our careers, there’s a lot we can learn from our mothers.
My mother passed when I was 21 so it was still very early in my career, yet, one of the best things I learned from my mother about growing my career was to “try it out”. She would say to me, “Dawn you can do anything you want to do as long as you put your mind to it!” That wisdom has stayed with me all of my life and I truly feel it’s part of my purpose to share that inspiration, motivation, and curiosity with you.
One of the ways I incorporate Mom’s wisdom into my work with clients is to support them with resources to “try out” and explore a job change, a new career or start a business.
Sometimes, managing a business, a department, or a project team can feel a lot like parenting—so take your cue from those who did it best. Here are some tips to integrate the wisdom of mothers into your professional life, and nurture your career at the same time.
- Guide, but don’t smother: Sometimes, people have to fall down to realize that standing on their handlebars is a bad idea. (Although that never really stopped me. I had pretty good balance, “Daring Dawn” standing on my seat, riding backwards and teaching my brother how to ride a bike.) Micromanagement almost always creates a tense atmosphere, and can actually reduce employees’ sense of personal responsibility verses teaching and guiding. Set the general direction, but let your employees or team members run with their ideas whenever it’s practical. You may be surprised with the results.
- Write an action list: When people know what’s expected of them, they’re more productive. An “action list” creates clear duties for each team member, and adds a sense of personal responsibility. As a bonus, this also eliminates the blame game if someone doesn’t pull their weight.
- Praise good deeds: Your team looks up to you, and your opinion matters to them. When people do good work, let them know that you’re aware of it, and that you appreciate their efforts. Also, people tend to try harder when they know their work makes a difference, so if numbers are up, spread the positive stats around.
If you feel you’re lacking in the leadership department, reach back into your childhood, and remember what effect positive leadership had on you when you were young—whether it came from a parent, a teacher, or some other adult. Make a list of the qualities this person exhibited which you feel assisted you in your personal growth. Now, see if you can integrate those qualities into your own leadership style.
Conversely, if there were situations where you felt that an authority figure had a major negative impact on you, make sure to steer clear of that style of leadership, since it will likely feel unnatural and will almost certainly be unproductive.
Often, we search for direction and inspiration in our professional lives. Looking to your own past can be a great way to find it. For example, if you’re considering a career change but don’t have a clue what you really want to do, revisit your childhood. Stephen Spielberg made 8mm adventure films, Oprah was known as the preacher. I use to play this job interview game with my neighbor, “Courageous Kathy”. She was so funny! I would sit at the desk and she would come in for an interview dressed up with a hat and glasses down to her nose and she called herself “Casey Fresh” and every time I asked her a question, she would say she forgot and then say, “Let me look that up in my little black book”. It was hysterical. We still laugh about it today. She’s a nurse and has worked with Alzheimer patients and if you’re new to my blog (WELCOME!) I was a recruiter for many years, and today; I interview people on the radio and coach people for interviews. What did you love to do when you were five, seven, or ten years old? How did your parents’ actions and words encourage and shape those old fascinations? Finally, is there some way you could integrate either your childhood loves or your parents’ wisdom into a new, rewarding career? Not everyone can be a dinosaur hunter, of course—but a copywriter could look for a contract with a natural history museum, or a banker could try grant writing for archeological expeditions. One of my recent clients went from being a personal trainer and business owner to becoming a Police Officer. “You can do anything you want to do as long as you put your mind to it.”
When it comes to creating positive forward motion in your career, sometimes looking back is a way to start. If you have a story about how your mother’s (or father’s) wisdom helped you get to where you are today, I’d love to hear it!
“Diligence is the mother of good fortune; idleness, it’s opposite, never led to good intention’s goal.” – Migues de Cervantes (1547-1616) Spanish Poet, Dramatist and Author