5 Career Lessons I Learned From My Stay-At-Home Mom

I’m sure she knew, as all moms do, that one day I would listen.

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My mom was a housewife and didn’t have a full-time “job” (other than thanklessly taking care of me, my sister, brother and dad full-time). I watched her tirelessly cook, clean up after us, take us everywhere with her and never have a moment to herself. 

She was very happy and very committed and we were very lucky that she was. But as I grew up, I knew I wouldn’t be happy doing the same.

As a result, when she gave me advice, I didn’t listen – especially when it came to my career. After all, I didn’t want to do what she was doing, and since she never had a corporate job, I thought she had no idea what she was talking about!

…Until I grew up and realized that she knew exactly what she was talking about. 30-plus years later, all the small life lessons she ingrained in me from a young age have been hugely helpful in managing my career.

Here are 5 career lessons I learned from my stay at home mom.

1. You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar

Being kind (the honey) will get you much further with people than being nasty (the vinegar). Kindness has helped me to develop strong trusted relationships with colleagues. Kindness can be as simple as a smile, a good morning, praise or a thank you for a job well-done. We all have bad days, but don’t ever take that out on someone else because people will always remember how you made them feel.

2. Don’t sacrifice your needs & goals

Put your needs and your goals first. If you have a goal to accomplish: getting good grades at school, building your career, spending personal time on a work or personal project, starting a new business, whatever it may be, put these needs first (but never to the detriment of others). This advice is in line with Warren Buffett’s advice: “The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say ‘no’ to almost everything.” Yes, I just compared my mom to Warren Buffett!

3. When something bad happens, tell yourself that it will pass

Your life isn’t over just because something bad happened to you. This applies to a work failure, personal failure, an interpersonal conflict, a bruised ego from someone’s mean words, and so on. None of this is catastrophic, and if it won’t matter in a year from now, it shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes of your time today. Everything blows over. Dust yourself off and move on to something better.

4. Pay attention

Doing something right the first time will prevent you from spending more time fixing avoidable mistakes. Be organized, be careful and pay attention to detail. The more attention you pay now, the better for you later.

5. Jealousy is toxic

There is always someone who will have more than you, maybe even something you desperately want. Don’t waste your time being jealous, because the jealousy will destroy you. Instead, channel that energy into working towards the things you want. This will make you happy. On the flipside, also avoid those who show that they are jealous of you.

When I was young, it never occurred to me that my mom’s years of endless advice would benefit me in my career. Even though I spent years rolling my eyes at every piece of advice my mom gave me, she kept on giving it – what a lesson in perseverance. I’m sure she knew, as all moms do, that one day I would listen. 

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