While I was swimming today (yes, swimming is my exercise of choice along with golfing, and I’ve included a golfing update at the end of this blog post) it occurred to that I let the biggest holiday go by without comment. First of all, please accept my Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers out there. What makes this the biggest holiday for me is simple, it is a day of celebration for everyone, a celebration for all the mothers and a time for all of us who have mothers to say thank you.
I am a very lucky person because both my Mom and my wife, Peggy are outstanding role models as mothers. A big thank you to my Mom for everything you do for me. I also want to thank Peggy for being a great Mom and demonstrating for me valuable leadership lessons as I watch your phenomenal parenting skills.
Balancing sympathy with empathy. I’ve watched untold number of times when the kids, (and I’m talking about adult kids at this point) would bring their latest slings and arrows of problems home. As a good Mom and leader, Peggy always patiently listens to the kids’ stories and at the appropriate times would sympathize with them: “I’m sorry that happened, I’m sure it was difficult.” Then she expertly looks them in the eye (Peggy always has the kids look her in the eye), repeats the concern back to them indicting that she really did hear them and was truly trying to understand. Like a great Mom and leader she shows sympathy but quickly moves to being empathic, showing understanding. Finally, the most important piece in these conversations was the absence of leaping to any sort of judgment.
Leadership moment: Listen and understand without being judgmental.
The art of tough love. In all disclosure tough love has never been a strength of mine and at home Peggy is the king and queen of tough love. As I noted above, when the kids came home with a problem, Peggy would listen, try to understand and not pass judgment. If, however, the conversation turned to asking advice: “Was I wrong? What should I have done? Now what do I do?” Like a great Mom and leader, Peggy provides insights and specific examples of action often times based on her experiences. And she will be honest with them; she challenges them to do better, to reach higher and to expect more of themselves.
Leadership moment: Challenge and provide direction while focusing responsibility on the individual.
Trust. Peggy and I have five kids, and it seems that the more kids you have the greater the opportunities for positive and negative parental experiences. We’ve been very lucky, we have great kids. This doesn’t mean we haven’t had our special challenges: “Did that really happen? You’ve got to be kidding me! What were you thinking?” What I learned from Peggy is that her first impulse has always been to trust her children and believe in them. I’ve learned so much about the need to listen and trust and not jump to conclusions. Because she begins with trust, I find it quite remarkable how open the kids are in talking with her and sharing things that I would never have shared with my parents and in the end, Peggy really has a special relationship with and understanding of our children.
Leadership moment: Trust leads to honesty, openness, and loyalty.
This is why Mother’s Day is such a great celebration, many thanks and with love to Peggy and Mom.
This is a big old shout out to my golfing buddies, especially Donna S.: I got a hole in one on March 30, hole 2, 146 yards, downhill, three hops and in. I really thought I was going to run out of years to get my hole-in-one. This was another teachable moment; great things can happen as long as you keep showing up.