Monday, May 12, 2008

8 things my mom taught ...

Cynthia D'Amour inspired me with her description of her mother; so I decided to describe mine too ... My mother had 4 children in 4 years, then divorced at age 26, went back to school to earn a degree, working the night shift full-time as a nurse, and kid time. I always thought I had the most beautiful mother in the room. And guess how often she complained? She didn't. She loves being a nurse, loves learning, loves being a mother ... and I have absolutely no idea how she did it. Extremely accomplished in her career, by the time she retired (a few years ago) she was managing a thousand employees and large number of really important public health projects.

Mom taught me ...

1. To define success correctly. Her definition of success is being happy. And in her case, happiness usually involves a bathing suit.

2. The glass doesn't have to be half full, it can be completely full. There really are people who wake up every day knowing it's going to be a good day. She smiles all the time.

3. Don't use salt, butter, gravy, or grease on anything. I don't even know if those were in our house, but they certainly weren't used.

4. Know you can do anything. The characteristics I'd most likely be described by are hard-working and high energy. And whenever someone asks how I can accomplish as much as I do, or where I find time to do the huge numbers of things I'm involved with, comes my answer: you should meet my mother. Her answer to that question would be "well I've always had a lot of energy". I was recently telling her about my son in an exit row being being grilled by a flight attendant; and she said "I like sitting in the exit row - I don't just think I could save the entire plane, I know I could". If there's one thing I know in life too -- my mother could evacuate the entire plane if she was in the exit row. So if my Board of Directors wants me to do anything by next week, could I? Yes, I can do anything.

5. There's a high road. Even though I was 6 when my parents divorced, and saw my dad frequently, there was never one instance I can recall when either of my parents ever said anything bad about the other one while I was growing up. Like any divorce, plenty could have been said. In association management there are vast opportunities to complain and criticize. Or you can take the high road and talk about the really exciting things you're working on or how grateful you are to have such wonderful officers and interesting issues. Which approach makes for happy kids, or a happy association?

6. To take pride in your profession. My mother was often asked why she didn't go to medical school. Her answer: "because I'm a nurse". She knew in elementary school she wanted to be a nurse and she deeply respects and loves nursing. If anyone has a nurse in your life you know what that means. She doesn't think of herself as "not a doctor". I know those of us in association management may be asked why we're not running big corporations instead. The answer is "because I'm an association executive". You can love your profession, even with others suggesting that you be what isn't your profession.

7. Be prepared. Part of her job was emergency preparedness and emergency response from a public health perspective. It's so important to be prepared and plan for bad situations. Maybe the emergency won't come. But sometimes it does.

8. Take care of your health, and help others. She'll drive me to a blood bank to donate on vacation. I'm grilled about having physicals annually (which I do). She's been physically active and fit her entire life. It shows. She helps others - e.g., once organizing a group of nurses to scrub homes of migrant workers. She was glad she could help them. Some believe they'
re called to serve others. Consider your health, and your job, privileges. Many people don't have opportunities - can be related to health, poverty or many other life conditions. Have gratitude.

Happy Mother's Day to my mom ... and to all other mothers who may believe "there's no such thing as too much love".

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