The Asian Crossover and Our Common Destiny
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Lessons from My Mom

We honor all the mothers for their love and for their nurturing of the children. Kinda silly to have one single day for Hallmark and FTD to make money, when we should be honoring our moms everyday.

Mothers are what power our society. They bring us into this world and they nurture our talent and our dreams. I have had the great fortune to work for a number of moms who have endured more work-life pressure, challenges, and sheer discrimination than any man has ever encountered.

Last week, I laughed when Norm Mineta, former Secy of Commerce and Secy of  Transportation, began his lifetime award acceptance speech like this:

I was very fortunate to have chosen my mother,  father and family so well.

There are an infinite series of events and factors that brought us into the world that you had nothing to do with. One thing is certain, you have a mother. And she made great sacrifices and taught us great lessons. Bottomline: we are here because of her and the only way to fully repay her is to make her proud of you and of the job she has done.

Like everyone's mom, my mother is very special. :) She has been my primary mentor and teacher about life and how to live. I have learned as much from observing the way she lives as from her words of wisdom. She was born in 1927 on a poor farm in the San Joaquin valley right before the Great Depression. She was the second to the youngest of 11 who grew up to "appreciate every grain of rice." With only one sister she had few female role models and had to develop her own sense of destiny in a world dominated by men. At the age of 15 she and her family where placed in the internment camps for almost 4 years. So she "graduated" from high school in the camps. She went to nursing school, met my Dad, raised a family and decided to become an artist at the age of 49. She has never complained about her hardships. She has always lived life with gusto and made everyone around her feel special and loved. Mom

Just wanted to share five of the many lessons she taught me:

  1. Always Look like You Know What You are Doing: Whatever role you take, job you accept, even sport you play--look the part. Study people who do these things well and try and do what they do. Look like they do. This was a very early version of the advice to dress for success. If you are serious about mastering a role, make the effort to look like it. Met so many young people who are ambitious with no ambition. They want to be given opportunities and even request to be mentored when they neither act or look as if they are mentorable. Youwill never be taken seriously unless you start looking like you know what you are doing.
  2. Always Treat People as They are Going To Be: If you pay attention you can see people's potential. You can see that they are working on who they are and where they are going. My mother was big on treating people you encounter as if they have become their potential. You meet, work with, and are connected to people who have many failings and shortcomings. Give people the benefit of the doubt. Don't be quick to judge people by their initial actions, see them for what they are becoming. Clearly, this is great advice as a parent, or a teacher. All children are becoming, and treating them with respect and without prejudice is essential for their development. But my mom extends this to all adults too. Everyone has something to offer and you should never do anything to undermine the best intentions and potential of that relationship.
  3. Give First: Living is not staying current on your debts. Life is about being generous. Reciprocity is not the goal. Keeping score is not worth the effort. Always be generous with your time and resources. We never went to someone else's home without food or a gift. Be the best of who you are all of the time. And being the best is about giving first and giving often without expectation.
  4. Being a Host is an Art form: Learn how to be a host of events. How to take on a Host mindset. Being a host means you rarely think of yourself as a guest who must be served and entertained. You take on a host mentality to help people engage and not allow the other guests to disconnect even if it is not your party. You host many events at your home to become a hub for activities and connections. You want people to feel at home in your home. And when you host events, you make it special even if it is a routine gathering. You don't have to spend a lot of money to present the food and your home with style and elegance. It just takes a little effort and a bit of creativity.
  5. Draw Outside of the Lines: We were encouraged as children to color outside of the coloring book lined figures. My mother's right brain orientation told her that creativity comes from using and understanding the positive and negatives spaces. Outside of the lines is always a bigger and better place to create and learn--she would say. Never be confined by or make assumptions about, the boundaries that have been imposed upon you.

I love my mom for what she has taught me and teaches me. I work hard at trying to use these lessons and many others to realize my potential. Her lessons have shaped my views of mentoring and networking.

Every mom teaches us lessons we should appreciate. How do we take what we have learned and make her proud everyday?

Aren't we lucky we picked our mothers well? ;)

Thanks for reading. John

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