8 Leadership Lessons I Learned From My Mom

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In honour of my mother’s 85th Birthday this week here are 8 leadership lessons I learned from her:

My mother was born in Poland and orphaned by 10; she spent time in a German camp; moved to the UK after the war and married my Polish father, who had served with the allied forces; they immigrated to Canada because of more opportunities for their children; she was widowed at 50 and has spent most of her life using English as her second language.

  1. Girls can do anything: There are no boundaries to what you can do if you want to do it. Do not let other people’s expectations hold you back.
  2. Speak up and Stand up for Yourself: If you don’t agree with something say so. “Girls are seen and not heard” had no place in our house.
  3. Learn, Learn and keep Learning: Like most immigrants mom’s she would have been happy for me to be a doctor or a lawyer (notice I didn’t say for me to marry one). It was important to learn and to keep learning. I can rarely remember a time when my mother did not have her nose in a book, either reading it to me or for herself. Today she still has a great grasp of world affairs and can discuss these at great length.
  4. Have the courage to live by your own rules: It’s hard to change things and be different…to not fit in. I can remember the teenage years and the angst of wanting to fit in with the “in crowd” but not at the personal cost involved of giving up my individuality. My mum showed me that’s it’s not important what others say, but, what you think about yourself.
  5. Be a leader: Bring change and don’t play it safe. Once I ran for student office and knew I would safely be elected as VP, yet, I chose to run for President (because there had never been a girl President) and I lost. But, the next year after I graduated a girl was elected to President of the Student Body.
  6. Ask: Ask for what you need and want. The worst thing that can happen is that you hear ”no” and this can be a good place from which to negotiate. In fact I learned this lesson well when asking if I could have the car for the evening.
  7. This too, shall pass: In my mom’s words, “how important will this be next week?” Of course if you are a teenager everything seems like the end of the world in the moment. It’s still a phrase I use on a regular basis when things are not going well. It helps put things into perspective.
  8. Live: My mom had many unhappy life experiences and they coloured her outlook in many ways. However, she has always kept the understanding that you should do things and not put them off. Live your life.

Thanks Mom! From your grateful daughter you taught to Live, Learn, Lead.

What lessons did you learn from your mum or dad?


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