I love my mom. She’s folksy and country-fried and, as a retired person in her late 70’s, can barely send a text or use Facebook. But I love her.
Her sage wisdom has carried me far in life. Little childhood gems like “Sit up straight, listen when you’re being spoken to and respect your elders.” or my absolute favorite “Don’t cross your eyes or they might stick that way.”
I’ll bet about now YOU are having a flashback to your childhood days when your mother consistently, though lovingly, corrected your behavior so you would “grow up to be proper young women.” As annoying and repetitive as it seemed back in your childhood days, it turns out that mom was right. These sage pearls of wisdom from our youth turned into effective and excellent ways for businesswomen to leverage strengths and stand out in a very crowded online, and offline, world.
As Savvy Biz Owners navigate the business world, these past corrections from mom can come in mighty handy and a firm reminder that sometimes the more basic the advice, the more effective it can be.
Brush Your Hair Every day: How many of us started our mornings before heading off to school with a reminder from mom to fix our hair, dress nice and brush our teeth? Mom instilled in us at an early age to have pride in our appearance and that trait translates very well into our adult years as well. Those of us who take pride in our appearance will also command respect from those around us. The reality of our modern world is that we are indeed judged on our appearance, and whether you like it or not, our appearance can (and will) dictate the how we are treated by peers, employers, and clients. You could be the most brilliant woman in the world and have the cured for a dread disease in your back pocket, but if you walk into a room looking like you slept in your clothes or are a cast member from the show Alaska Bush People you are likely to be dismissed in the minds of those around you. Not only is looking your best highly important in business, it also helps with our confidence and self-esteem. “Look sharp, feel sharp” should be the mantra of all biz owners as we navigate our career paths.
Say Thank You: Many women find themselves caught in the not-so-great habit of minimizing their achievements. How many times have you heard yourself mutter, “It was nothing” or “It was no big deal. I am happy to help” when given kudos for a job well done? These self-depreciating comments undervalue our talents and would make mom cringe in her comfortable loafers. Allow yourself to accept praise and acknowledgment it gracefully and professionally. Instead of mumbling comments that undermine your worth, stand tall and say, “Thank you” and let others see your contribution and worth to a brand, project or business.
Speak Up: “Speak now or forever hold your peace!” is a well-known line from many a wedding vow. Speak up, say your piece and assert yourself when need be without being aggressive. Ever had an opportunity to voice your opinion or stand up for yourself, only to backpedal at the last second and let it slip by? Pretty crappy feeling, right? The mom-taught-skill of speaking up can apply to offline or even online situations so know when to speak up, be heard and stand out from the rest of the crowd.
Listen: Ever heard the old adage, “We have two ears and one mouth so we can listen twice as much as we speak?” Entrepreneurs of all ages will find great benefit in tuning into and utilizing, one of the most powerful tools for success: listening. Listen to the trends, your tribe, your clients, your employers and most of all listen to the wise entrepreneurs who have blazed the trail before us. Listen when they offer up advice free of charge for those willing to stop, listen, focus and be present in the moment. Listen to your peers as they share trials, tribulations, victories, and gains. Focus and listen to hone in on problems they may have the solution for problems you may have the solution for. When our clients complain, just know that criticism and complaints are really just a request for assistance. Listen, recognize and address their concerns because if you don’t, your competition will be happy to. Women are exceptionally good listeners so don’t under-utilize that skill on all facets of business and life.
Sit Up Straight: Good posture is more than just standing tall so you don’t get a backache later. Sitting or standing up straight with shoulders back and arms open are also indicators of confidence and pride. Frame your posture with a confident smile, a raised chin and the habit of looking people in the eye for an unbeatable physical and mental presence in business.
Don’t Follow The Herd: “If Laura jumped off a cliff, does that mean you would too?” This mom-ism usually followed a rant that included the phrase, “But mom! Laura is doing it! All the cool kids are doing it! Why can’t I? It’s so unfair!” This mom’s way of letting us know that, just because someone was doing something ridiculous or rash, it didn’t mean we had to as well. Like any parent, mom wanted us to find our own way, carve our own path and be our own person instead of blindly following the “in-crowd.” Being a trailblazer and an early adopter is vitally important in today’s business world and those who don’t blindly “follow the herd,” but instead ask why or look for the road less traveled, are usually the same people that find the new niche, product or service that inspire a movement, align themselves as leaders or master the skill of bringing new clients clamoring to their door.
Stupid is as Stupid Does: Ever felt like you’ve left a company meeting with bus tracks on your back? The urge for many when they feel as if they have been disrespected, undermined or kicked to the curb is to lash out and seek revenge. But thanks to dear old mom we know that, just because one person acts stupidly, doesn’t mean we should as well. Revenge rarely has a place in this world and especially not in business. If you feel you’ve been disrespected or thrown under the bus, don’t retaliate. Swiftly address the situation is a firm, yet clear way that shows you have the courage and the moral compass to face wrong-doings head-on. Be firm, be fair and be credible.
What words of wisdom from your mother still ring true for you today?