Lessons from Mom
So there was a time when I wished I had a Mom who was a businesswoman or the Clair Huxtable type. So I could learn the ropes of business from within, and get great advice. Well, comparison is truly the thief of joy because while I was wishing for something else, I was blind to the tremendous lessons and leadership tools that I learned from the only Mom I ever needed. There she was right before my eyes, hidden in plain sight along with a ton of life and business lessons. So I thought it befitting that I share with you and her some of the great things that I learned from her. Here are lessons from my mom.
Here are the 14 things that I’ve learned and used as business tools and ingredients for success in life that I learned from my mom.
Lessons from the Garden
One of the first things I want to talk about is PATIENCE. My Mom is one of the most patient people I know even in frustration. She has always been big on talking about the real issue, taking it to God, and moving forward. TBH, many of the lessons in patience came from what I learned from spending time gardening with her. You see, you don’t plant and reap in the same day. It takes patience, diligence, and work.
It starts with preparation. You have to make sure the ground is first ready to receive what you want to plant. For us that meant outlining the space in our backyard that was to be designated as garden space and digging up the grass. Where we lived the hard clay wasn’t the best to plant it so we had to buy topsoil and manure to make the garden area more conducive for optimal growth. Man, how many times has this lesson come in handy? In life and in business that preparation stage is huge (huge in what way) and a major set up for success. The crazy part is that many of us try to skip the preparation and jump right to success and it just don’t work like that.
Once the ground was ready then it was time to plant. There were many options for this part. We could plant from seed or little plants from the local nursery. For many years, Mom would take seeds from plants that grew in previous seasons and begin growing them in the back room of the house. This allowed the fruit of previous seasons to die, and begin taking root so they could do it again in this new season. You see, we didn’t have a ton of money but because of her resourcefulness, we learned that we could use what we already had to grow more. MESSAGE. Too many of us are waiting for things to be perfect and aren’t working with what you already have. You don’t have to wait until you have it ALL, use what you have. START. The gift is in you. You are waiting on an answer to your prayers and it’s already there, within YOU.
Now once you have everything planted you don’t just sit back and wait. This is when nurturing comes into play. There are these nasty little things called weeds, insects and other pests (you could also call them haters) that would love to destroy all of the hard work you have put in. So daily, we had to put in the effort to water, pull weeds, fertilize, etc. to make sure our plants were in position to produce. Now of course there are tons of lessons here because our marriages are like this gardening thing. You have to work at it. Plucking weeds of complacency, fertilizing with care and compassion. In fact, every relationship you are in requires nurturing. Maybe that’s just the thing our kids need more of. Love, affection, and attention rather than constant yelling and feeling the brunt of our frustrations. IT TAKES WORK. What you put in is what you will ultimately get out.
There were so many lessons from the garden. Patience, preparation, planting, nurturing and I can’t forget the opportunity to harvest and eat the fruit of what we planted. It was so dope going into the backyard to grab a fresh tomato to add to the fresh collard greens and have some corn on the cob. We had it all, okra, beans, tomatoes, corn, cucumbers, watermelon, greens, peppers, anyone else getting hungry? Some days I’d sneak and grab a few cherry tomatoes from the vine and munch on my afternoon snack (Shhhhhh). And even better, we had so much that we ALWAYS had vegetables to give away. When you put in the work, the rewards are bound to come and when they do remember it’s not just about YOU. You are blessed to be a blessing.
Another correlation that I got related to the garden and the people that we lead. Everyone we are blessed to have in our sphere of influence are there for a reason. If we use some of what Mom taught me in the garden and don’t throw people away that we don’t understand or those that just don’t live up to our hidden expectations. If we take the time to help weed some things out, water some of the areas (some plant, some water, God gives the increase…) You might be surprised what happens when you put in the work, pray and watch what only God can do.
Lessons from The Kitchen
Now all that talk about gardening and food made me hungry but it also leads me to another place where I learned a LOT, the kitchen. This is where I learned to bake/cook, which is obvious, but again there were many hidden lessons. Just like gardening, you don’t just whip up a gourmet meal in an instant (I will block you if you think anything microwavable is gourmet LOL). With cooking, following a process and being consistent is so important. I wanted to learn how to do recipes beyond the basics like homemade yeast rolls, apple pie, cakes, lobster mac and cheese. Things that take diligence but put smiles on the faces of those that partake.
There’s No Place Like Home
Beyond the cooking aspect, I learned about community in the kitchen. My mom taught me the importance of creating a safe place to come hang out, eat, and be heard. I gained so many brothers and sisters from around the dinner table. Moms would always invite someone over for Sunday dinner. The crazy part is as I mentioned, we didn’t have a lot of money to go buy extra food like that, but GOD always provided. And it didn’t have to be a Holiday or special occasion. She invited you or you invited yourself and that was that. I loved the fact that she wouldn’t just cook what she wanted, she would ask what the special guest wanted and cook up their favorites. Then she would add to that and make it a feast. I’m not talking about simple meals. She would normally start preparing the meal on Saturday and then add the finishing touches and last dishes on Sunday after church. I guarantee you no one EVER left hungry or empty-handed (we lost many dishes over the years LOL). But I can still hear the laughter, feel the love, the conversations, sometimes tears, and the true sense of community. It was unmatched. Nothing opens the heart and mind like some amazing soul food and a warm heart.
I always enjoyed cooking but also learning in the process. One of the most valuable lessons I learned in the kitchen is that failing isn’t failure (read it again). One burnt meal doesn’t mean you should stop cooking forever. It means that you now know how not to do it. I learn from my mistakes and with every failed attempt, I get closer to success. Rolls were one of the greatest instructors. If you didn’t do things just right you would end up with rocks instead of the intended soft light rolls. I wouldn’t quit and now they are the bomb (I even had a professor at OSU propose for their niece because they were so good. LBS)
Don’t quit or consider yourself a failure when something fails. Learn and keep going. Make adjustments, dust yourself off, and try again. Whatever you do, don’t you dare quit!
Another lesson from my kitchen time with Mom that has benefited me in business and life is consistency. Once you nail a recipe, doing it the same way will yield consistently good results time and time again. Yes, I’m a rule follower when it comes to cooking. I want my stuff to taste GOODT. There are also formulas that work in business. Take care of the people that take care of you. Do the hard things first and so many more. When you find the formula, rinse and repeat. Don’t get me wrong, there are times to up the ante and add special ingredients which is dope. Just practice, before you implement.
Sacrifice & Kindness
Another great lesson I learned is that of SACRIFICE and KINDNESS. I relate it to my favorite scripture:
Philippians 2:3-4 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
You see, my Mom sacrificed work opportunities to make sure that we had what most didn’t (at least in my hood) a hot meal every morning before school. And no I ain’t talkin about no microwave oatmeal (we didn’t even have a microwave back then). My mom cooked eggs (the way I requested) bacon or sausage (sometimes spam) and toast on some mornings and pancakes and bacon or sausage on the others. Year in and year out I always had a great start to my school mornings. In addition, when we got home snacks were waiting while she was finishing dinner which we always ate together. The only day we didn’t have hot breakfast was Saturday cereal mornings which were perfect because I didn’t want any interruptions to the cartoon marathon.
Those hot meals and accountability kept me out of a lot of potential trouble. Her sacrifice was powerful and something I couldn’t understand until seeing it in hindsight. Thanks Mom.
The Art of Saving
As previously mentioned, we didn’t have much. Now we didn’t know we were poor, but we were. My dad and I love to go fishing but many times plans were thwarted because of the lack of money. I mean, you need gas money to make the trip (our favorite spots were at least 40 min away) money for bait, and snacks (which more often than not, we’d pack with us). I can’t tell you how many times Mom came through with a $20 bill (and a few dollars on the side for me to grab some candy) which blessed us with just enough to make the trip and most times with money to spare. Remember, gas was only .80/gallon so $5 in the tank went a loooong way. And many times the fish were kind to us and we were able to return home with some fresh fish which would become dinner and lunch the next day. Although I LOVED fishing and cleaning the fish I left the eating part to them and Mom loved some fresh fish. Even in our state of lack, she showed me that saving was still possible. There was typically money set aside for the rainy days, or in our case sunny fishing days. I have NEVER forgotten the impact of her doing that and I’m forever grateful not just for the lesson, but for the great memories and times I had with my father on our fishing expeditions.
This lesson has come in handy so much throughout life and business. Putting aside reserves to help with future opportunities and making sure that no matter how bad it looked there was a silver lining.
Time for Church
One of the most powerful and impactful things my Mom ever taught or shared was the intro to Jesus. At an early age, basically from birth, we were in Church. And when I say in it, I mean it. Like SUNDAY almost ALL day. Sunday school in the morning followed by snacks in the fellowship hall before Sunday service started which lasted until later afternoon. We had a small break for dinner and then it was back to Church for Sunday night service. Then there was bible study one night and prayer service another night. I basically prayed all year long for a snowstorm or something so we could get a break LBVS. And please know, going to Church was NOT an option (ask my sister who faked sick to hang out with friends but got caught when service ended early). But her faith and belief helped me to grow and desire a relationship with God of my own.
My mom is the only person I know that has never cussed, drank, smoked, or anything, what a superpower right?! Even when mad, she did a great job living out the fruit of the spirit (love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
I learned that I can get my point across without yelling or cussing. I can be effective without being mean. I can have fun without being intoxicated or high (doesn’t mean I didn’t have some learning to do in this area, but those are stories for another time). I learned that a soft answer does in fact turn away wrath. Quite uncommon, but it works. I have worked to incorporate so much of what I learned throughout my interactions with others in leadership and in business. Being Christ-like is a good thing. We are supposed to be different and that is OK.
I will never forget getting into situations in school and having the right mindset to pray first. I can’t tell you how many times I sat in school quietly whispering my prayers to God, desperately needing help. And He always came through. That foundation came from Mom and Dad. I still use what I’ve learned daily in business. I pray over my business and my interactions with others regularly. I pray for divine strategy and influence. Trust me it’s important and necessary.
There are so many lessons I’ve learned from one of the most minimalistic people I know. She has never wanted for much. Never traveled out of the US, but also never made a fuss about any of it. She truly learned to be content in whatever her circumstances. She lived in the same house for 48 years, 25 years alone after my Dad passed away. The many times we tried to take her on shopping sprees she always found a way to get the bare minimum. Truly selfless, patient, kind, and caring and when I look back at it all she has always been just the Mom I needed. The lessons I learned gave me the ability to handle success and move in circles that I might not have been able to do otherwise. They also prepared me to handle my low moments and defeats and to understand that I wasn’t a failure simply because I failed.
I’m so grateful that I have a chance to share with her just how much of an impact she has made on my life, my leadership roles, my business, and my roles as a husband, father, brother, friend, and even my future which is still a story in progress. I thank God for my Mom because HE gave me just what I needed. Mom, I love you. Thank you for being amazing, not just to me and my sisters, but to so many others that you “adopted”, loved on, prayed for, cooked for, and cared for. I’ve learned a ton and still learning and applying the wisdom I’ve gleaned from you daily.