5 Business Lessons I Learned From My Mom: How to Change Lives
Mother's Day is coming up, so what better way to celebrate on a blog about business than to honor the business lessons I learned from my mom? Now, here's the weird part. My mom is not a business person. Like, at all. She finds it boring. My mom is not an entrepreneur; my mom is a nurse, through and through.(Spoiler alert: That makes her a very special kind of person.)
And, since it's also National Nurse's Week here in the U.S., we can double this blog post up as business lessons learned from my mom, who is also a nurse. And trust me, there's a lot to learn.
Because my mom makes a difference in the lives of the people around her. And not just with action, but with her just being her. Perhaps I'm biased, but I'm proud to say that I've grown up watching other children (and adults!) flocking to my mother for love, care, and support. She's just the kind of person that nurtures.
I believe we all can learn from the lessons she has taught me. And here's the thing, none of these are things that she's lectured me about, or stenciled onto my bedroom wall. Instead, these lessons are just how she lives and works.
If your desire is to run an authentic business that reaches people in a transformative way, you'll want to learn how to be the person my mom is.
First off, let me reiterate: my mom is not a businesswoman. Like, at all. I love you mom, but I see how your eyes glaze over when there are more than three numbers in a sentence. (I got my number thing from dad.)
Instead, my mom excels at two other, very wonderful, things: being a mom and being a nurse. Both of these require an exceptional human being.
And I've come to believe that, in order to have an authentic brand that people can connect to, we need to be authentic people that our readers want to connect to. Maybe you're already extremely likeable, but the rest of us have to work on that a bit!
The following 5 lessons (which do not at all encompass the entirety of what my mom has taught me) are centered around this idea of being a better person for your business.
Lesson 1: You're never too busy to help someone.
My mom is straight up superwoman. She was a full-time nurse for most of my life, yet she maintained the home like she was there all day. The house was clean, food was on the table, and we went to bed every night comfortable and safe.
I always joke that my mom has the "Nurse's Walk." She's always hustling around like someone's life depends on how fast she can get to her destination. We can't even keep up with her on a relaxing beach walk, despite the fact that she's the shortest person in the family.
Plus, she's always been horrible at doing nothing. (Seriously, are we actually related?) She gets restless if she's not doing something productive. We'd have to yell at her to go sit back down when we were trying to give her a day off for her birthday or Mother's Day.
The point is, she keeps busy. She always has something to do. Yet she will always, always, go out of her way to be there for someone. She listens when you need someone to talk to, she'll drive across town with a casserole if you need a meal, and she's probably dished out health/medical advice to everyone in our church.
My mom makes time for other people, and I believe this is important for business, too. Connecting with people means being there for people.
If you want your blogging business to be more than just a numbers game, you're going to have to figure this out.
If someone asks for your advice, you should give it (you can give advice without hosting an entire coaching session!). If someone needs technical help accessing your products or website, help them out! If someone needs encouragement, give it!
You can't start blogging to help people without, gasp, helping people.
So my philosophy for TLS is people first. I want to build a business where I am always accessible, where profits never come before people. Sometimes, this takes a little sacrifice. But my mom has shown me that it's always worth it.
Lesson 2: There's always a way you can provide for someone. Sometimes you just have to ask.
My mom can sniff out a need almost as well as she can sniff out a designer handbag in the clearance bin. She just has a way of knowing when she needs to ask someone how they're doing.
I used to get embarrassed when she would reach out to people like that - Moooom, just leave them alone, why are you asking them that? (And I hated it even more when she made me do it). If they need help, they'll ask for it, right? What needs could they possibly have? What on earth could I do for them?
But I've been amazed at the needs that she's uncovered, and I've been proud as I watched her meet those needs.
I've watched her come home from a 14-hour day of work and cook a meal for someone recovering from surgery.
I've watched her visit the home of a couple from our church for months to help the woman care for her dying husband.
I've watched her "adopt" people of all ages (seriously, early 30s to upper 70s) who didn't have family to spend the holidays with. Our Thanksgivings always involve a ragtag collection of whoever my mom busted that year.
(Yes, I used the word "busted;" it's serious business when mom finds out you're not planning a traditional feast surrounded by family.)
This woman is a provider. Need scissors? Q-Tips? Medicine? Breath mints? An umbrella? A Ziploc bag? A spare stethoscope? Count on her to have it. She packs for the apocalypse every time she leaves the house. We pick on her for it, but we're always grateful when we're hungry and she has a stash of granola bars (albeit smushed ones) in her bag.
This is a continuation of Lesson 1. Yes, you have to show up for people. But how are you going to help them? What ways can you reach people that you haven't thought of? What kind of impact do they need in their life?
I think we underestimate peoples' needs, and we undervalue the impact we can have. So what if someone doesn't need anything? Most of the time, they'll be amazed that you actually cared.
Think out of the box when it comes to helping your readers. Think of better products you can make, more resources you can lead them to, or better ways you can serve them without asking for money in return. Maybe you can give your readers gifts, or offer new encouragement they weren't expecting, or simply ask. If you have a reader you've connected with personally, reach out to them! Ask them how they're doing! Ask them if they're struggling with anything!
I'll admit, I'm still working on this area. It's scary to put yourself out there like that. But truly, it never hurts to ask.
Lesson 3: Your circumstances do not control your life.
At the age of 7, my mom got on a plane alone and flew across the world from Taiwan to her adopted family in America. She learned a new culture, a new language, and a new life at the same age that the rest of us were trying to act like "big kids" and were getting in trouble for running around with rubber bands on our wrists (anyone else's mom try to tell you your fingers would have to get chopped off?).
From there, she would fight through many more challenges in life. She worked ridiculous hours at McDonald's while still in high school, and she went on to serve in the United States Air Force.
She defied the doctors who told her she would never have children, and that she should give up trying. She persevered through a rough pregnancy (sorry, mom) that made her very sick while finishing nursing school. Then she went through another difficult pregnancy with my brother, spending most of it in the hospital.
She's overcome extreme shyness and insecurities to become a sociable, friendly, confident woman. She and my dad worked their butts off to go from pennies to providing financial stability for our family.
Honestly, the woman deserves a biography, because I've barely scratched the surface. She has faced some intense giants in her life that tried to destroy her dreams and break her spirit, but I've never once looked at her and seen a victim.
The odds were truly against her for most of her life, but she knew what she wanted, and she made it happen. She built the life that few people expected of her, which really worked out for my brother and I!
Entrepreneurship is hard. Some people naturally possess the traits to endure the struggle, and the rest of us have to work a little harder to get there. There's going to be a lot of hurdles, and struggles, and failures. And there's going to be a lot of chances to make excuses and say, "Well, it's just not for me."
But the people who make it are the ones who know to keep going. The ones who know what they're working towards and will do anything to get there.
Author and motivational speaker Zig Ziglar says, "When obstacles arise, you change your direction to reach your goal; you do not change your decision to get there."
If you know what you want and why, don't let go so easily! Your dreams are worth fighting for!
Lesson 4: Laugh, and laugh hard.
My mom has the most beautiful laugh. She hates it, but we all know and love it. I always joke that, when I'd lose her in the social gatherings after a church service, all I had to do was listen for her laugh and I could find her anywhere in the building.
My mom often laughs so hard she cries. Like, tears-streaming-down-her-face-in-waterfalls cries. Usually, it's just her laughing at her own jokes. She thinks she's hysterical. (She kinda is, but don't encourage it.)
Her sense of humor is just so refreshing. It's joyful. I can appreciate dark and self-deprecating humor, but sometimes it's so much nicer to laugh about the light things in life, ya know?
Sure, my mom can get really cranky. I definitely didn't get that from dad. But, overall, there's such a light around her. Honestly, it's pretty hard to describe. But I'm sure you've experienced this before.
You know those people that are just nice to be around? Whose smile brightens the room? Whose laugh is extremely contagious? I really hope you know someone like this, because it can truly change your life to be around them.
This one's a little tricky. To be this kind of person, you have to really work on yourself from the inside out. You can do a bit of "fake it till you make it," but not much. You have to reach a peaceful place in your soul. I'll be the first to admit that I'm so not there.
So instead, I encourage you to look for these people. Surround yourself with encouraging, uplifting, joyful personalities. This is going to sound like a bunch of fluff, but it is healing to just be around them!
And on your part, laugh a little more. Lighten up. Force a bit of optimism. Look for the good in the world! As you start to develop this perspective, you can incorporate it into your brand. Teaching and inspiring really go hand in hand. Your readers will be drawn to your message as they begin to feel hope and encouragement from it.
Lesson 5: Be present, and appreciate where you're at.
My mom gets very reflective and very nostalgic. We always catch her looking at old photos or watching our old home movies (Pro tip: get your old home video tapes digitized for your mom's Christmas gift. She'll LOVE it. Promise. You may even make her cry.)
But we'll also catch her just sitting at the window watching the rain. Or watching all the cousins play in the yard or swim in the pool. Sit next to her under the umbrella at the beach and she'll start to share the thoughts in her head as she watches my dad and brother roughhousing in the waves. Those thoughts are full of admiration for the family she's built, gratitude for everything she's been blessed with, and love for the people around her.
My parents have worked hard to build the life they have. They came from completely different upbringings than what my brother and I had. I've had "friends" and "family" think that they were privileged and lucky.
But they worked hard. They built this life one day at a time. And they have never forgotten that.
Really, I've learned this from both parents, but today it's all about mom. My mom is thoughtful, and she is grateful. She doesn't take anything she has for granted (except maybe Amazon Prime. That's spoiled her a bit). Despite what my teenage temper tantrums might have portrayed, I have not once ever felt undervalued or underappreciated by her.
Don't get lost in the rat race. Work towards your goals, but look at your accomplishments. Be grateful for everything you have, and everything you've done.
It's not about the numbers. If you're upset that you only have 1 person on your email list, think for a second. That is one life that has decided to follow your work. That's a soul. A person with feelings and dreams and struggles.
I struggle with a lot of these lessons from my mom, but I'm being completely honest when I say that I heavily value every single person that follows TLS. Your lives matter to me!
Grant yourself the time to reflect on where you're at in life, and you'll start to feel more content. Which makes it a lot easier to make wise decisions instead of desperate ones!
It's not just about my mom.
I'll be honest, this post was a lot longer than I thought it would be. We're looking at 2600 words, and there's so much more that I could say about my mom. But I get it, she's my mom, you guys have heard enough.
I'm not saying all this just to brag, though I admit to bragging a little bit. But I really do believe these are business lessons for us all! Because if we're building a brand around ourselves, we have to make sure we're the kind of person worth building a brand around, yes?
So we need to work on us. And we need to surround ourselves with the kind of people that can help us develop into the best versions of ourselves. Your business will reflect who you are, so make it worth it, alright?
It doesn't matter if it's not Mother's Day when you're reading this. Celebrate moms (and nurses!) every day! Whether it's your mom or someone who was like a mother to you, share the greatest lessons you've learned from the amazing women in your life in the comments below!
At the very least, let's give a shout out to my mom, Tamy. Tell her she's awesome!
Until next time!
- Katie Scott