mom and tara 1
Nothing my mother told me when I was growing up is truer today than the constructive instruction she shared during my childhood.

Being a mom is hard work. We can all appreciate that whether we have children or not.  Perhaps you haven’t aged into that appreciation just yet. It’s ok. Read this again in five years when you finally realize what a pain you were and how good you had it when you were a kid. The rest of you, let’s reminisce, shall we?

I don’t know about your mom, but when I was small (and obstinate, lazy, etc), my mother had a few choice phrases she would break out over and over again to help me, let’s say, overcome our obstacles.

The “mom-isms” drilled into me as a child carried forward into my adult life, contributing to the woman, mother, and the professional I am today, advice beyond using manners and because she said so.  In honor of mother’s day, and my own mother, I am sharing three of her best pieces of advice with you. May it serve you as well as it has me, whether you use it with your kids at home or in the office – with your other kids.

  1. Look with your eyes not with your mouth  

When confronted with people, small or large, who keep asking you where they put their stuff, and who are expecting you to go looking for it, break this puppy out. Seriously, as if you know where they might have put that thing that they played with that you have never seen before. First of all, I’m not a psychic – I can’t see your lost item. Secondly, show some initiative, get off your tookas and look for the doggone thing. Then maybe I’ll help you. Maybe. If you use your manners and ask nicely.

Translated into the professional world: figure it out. Quit telling me you just don’t know how Outlook works. Please stop immediately throwing up your hands, proclaiming unending ignorance about a piece of technology or an app, for goodness’ sake. Take some initiative and find out how to do something or go somewhere on your own – just make an attempt. I know it may take you a little while to figure it out. You may even fail, but if you need help I will GLADLY jump in. If you think I will do it for you, well, you’ve got another think coming.

  1. Nobody’s done ‘till everybody’s done

Everybody has chores they need to do and every house with young kids is in a constant state of some kind of clutter. I can’t imagine, now that I’m an adult with kids, ever NOT having an unfinished list of to-dos. What’s worse than spending another hour on chores? Doing those chores while watching someone else maxing and relaxing with some cheesy fingertips and a bag of Cheetos, that’s what. It’s insensitive and not at all generous.

In the office, following this advice is called good teamwork. Don’t rest on your Cheetos. If that big project is coming due and the team is waiting on one person to finish his or her part, it makes sense to jump in and help if you can. At least ask to help and let that person say yes or no. Helping others means success for the project, success for the team, and a huge deposit of goodwill in your professional piggy bank.

  1. If you can’t find something to do, I’ll find something FOR you to do

The partner phrase to #2 or even useful as a stand-alone. You got it. This was the cue to quit watching Scooby Doo and find something productive to do. Don’t even try to say you were watching something educational on PBS. Sister, if you didn’t want to be scrubbing a bathroom in 5, 4, 3, 2,… then you had better find something non-electronic at worst and outside at best to do on the double.

Professionally, following this mantra allows you to get and stay in the power seat. Design your own work. Get ahead of the questions your boss is going to ask. What is the logical next to-do and how can you craft it so you enjoy the task more? Think ahead to how you’re going to manage through the risks that may prevent your success. Be strategic about your work. Most times, when you receive a request for work (aka “mandate”), it’s work you wouldn’t have enjoyed half as much as if you had “found” it yourself.

So, Mom, thank you for these nuggets of wisdom. I bet you didn’t know that I would carry them around with me all my life. I love you and am exceedingly grateful for how well you have loved me. Thank you and Happy Mothers Day. (Can this be your Mother’s Day card?)

Have any mom-isms of your own to share? Share this article and share your mom’s advice in the comments below.  Have fun while you reminisce together this weekend!