Admittedly, this post might be off-putting to some. For those who might feel anything less than positive for what I’m about to say, I apologize in advance but ask for your indulgence to read beyond your initial reaction. It’s personal to me and I think there’s value for others.
I’m proud of my accomplishments as humble and as modest as they may be by some standards in both life and in business. I’m equally, perhaps more appreciative of the obstacles I’ve overcome. Not that my hurdles have been any higher than yours or anyone else’s but they were mine to jump over just the same. But, after all, as Arthur Schopenhauer said, “To overcome difficulties is to experience the full delight of existence.”
However, progress is seldom made without models and mentors to
grow from and to be guided by.
The most influential person in my life has been and is my Mom. She grew up first in an orphanage, and then lived in a less than functional adoptive home. She was a single parent raising me (the ha
rd-headed sort that I was and am) and bringing up my brothers and sisters from her early age of seventeen. She never had the advantages I was given, earned, or learned along the way but her wisdom and insight was not only an inspiration but the whack-upside-the-head I needed to first survive, then get by, and eventually thrive.
She taught me to love music—soul music; she taught me that to danc
e through life is a key to happiness and to appreciate what I have and go after what I want.
From her, I learned the meaning of respect—give respect and expect to
receive respect in return.
My Mom is 69 years old, 5″4 about 120 pounds but to this day, even though I’m over 6 feet tall and about 240 lbs, she’d beat my butt in an instant (and she could) if I’d ever give her a cross look, an insolent word, or were to whine to her about my current state of affairs . Not because she doesn’t love me, respect me, or think that I’m not an adult but because giving respect, expecting respect, and making life what one wants it to be is one of our family standards.
My Momma taught me independence, how to love without limits, and to honor the distinctions in all people, races, religions, cultures, and circumstance.
Most vividly she value of knowing the difference between “can’t” and won’t”.
When I was about nine or ten years old, on one occasion my Mom told me to do something; the task I forget, the lesson I’ll always remember. When she told me to do whatever it was at the time I said “Mom, I can’t”. Her words stayed with me forever. “Son, when you tell me you ‘can’t’, either you’re telling me you ‘don’t know how’ or you ‘won’t’. If you’re telling me you don’t know how, I’ll teach you how; if you are telling me you won’t, then I’m gonna beat ya; now which one is it… you don’t know how or you won’t do it?”
I’d don’t know if her words were original wisdom, instinct, something she heard or was taught but it sure worked for me; I’d much rather be taught than “whupped”. I learned that there are few things I couldn’t do if I was willing to learn and had the benefit of someone showing me the way.
My Mom taught me not to judge people by their religion, color, creed, ethnicity, or economic status but make up my mind by who they were and are as individuals and the actions they took.
I learned from my Mom, never to back down, never to give up, and never forget I can be, do, and become whatever I put my mind to. She taught me I’m no better, no worse than anyone else and that diversity and adversity are gifts that “God” or the “universe” given to us to learn and grow from. She taught me it matters not from where I came, but only where I am and where I am going that counts.
Most importantly, though she never said it, my Momma taught me when life, business, people, or events get tough, when things go wrong, when days get you down to “GET UP, SHUT UP, and PUT UP”
Momma, this is for you, I love you and thank you for all you are and all you do.