#863 Mom & Me

I look and sound like my Dad.  I have a lot of his mannerisms, our gait is similar, and I have learned a ton from him.  Inside out though, the more significant part of my persona comes from my Mom.

I'm blessed to have them both close to me and in good health but yesterday was Mother's Day so let me share a bit about my Mom and how so many of her lessons shaped the beliefs that have led me here to study the nuances of people and the way that we communicate.

My Mom always looked at me with a smile and kind eyes.  If I were a cartoonist and had to draw a bubble over Mom's head when she looked at me the way she did when I was a boy it would have said, "Even when your kind of goofy, ill-behaved, or weird I find it endearing and I love you."

Mom always had confidence in me.  In the second grade when I came home with unsatisfactory grades, Mom looked at the report card and said, "You're obviously bored in that class.  We will have to have you moved to a more challenging class that is more on your level." And she did.

Around that same time, first or second grade, I remember walking through the neighborhood with Mom.  At the end of our block lived an old woman, Mrs. Mack.  Mrs. Mack was flat out miserable.  When mom and I walked past Mrs. Mack sitting on her stoop, Mom would smile and wave and offer a big hello, and she always made me join in.  Mrs. Mack would usually just offer a cold stare or, if we were lucky, she'd nod her head and grunt a bit.

I asked Mom why we kept saying hi when Mrs. Mack was so unreceptive, and Mom taught me two great lessons.  "First of all," she said, "Mrs. Mack doesn't get to decide how we behave.  We're friendly people, and when we see our neighbors, we smile and say hello regardless of how they receive it.  Secondly, who knows why Mrs. Mack is so unhappy? Perhaps she's suffered more than her share of tragedy, and if we smile and wave enough, over time, we might help her to be happier."

That day is the earliest memory I have of forming two of the foundational beliefs I try to live by.  First, I set the tone in my life; I make the weather.  It's never about what happens to me and always about how I respond.  The second, long before I read Covey, and the seven habits is that "You don't know what you don't know" and you should be compassionate rather than judgmental.

These early incidences and further lessons throughout my life formed the foundation on which I built my belief system and, eventually, my career.

Happy Mother's Day to all the Mom's out there molding young clay, every day.  None of us would be who we are without you.

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