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Eight Success Lessons from My Mom

As my mom receives treatment for a lingering illness, I can't help but think about what she has done for me and our family. As a young boy, my father used to remind me that without Mom, our family would have crumbled. "In every good family, there's always a good mother behind it," he emphasized.

I can't forget those words coming from my dad, but my young brain couldn't fully appreciate it at that time. While I was growing up, Mom never talked about any success principle. However, through her attitude and actions over the years, I have realized that Mom is indeed the strength and foundation of the family. In fact, she has instilled in me life lessons important to success.

* Be Enthusiastic

My mom has always been enthusiastic. She was enthusiastic as a teacher, as a businesswoman, and as a mother. You could feel her presence because her positive attitude was infectious. Her smile, speech, and gestures showed a woman full of confidence in doing her tasks.

A relative once commented that my mom was "a woman in a hurry" and "always busy." And yet you could always find a smile on her face, even during stressful times. She would tackle her task with ease and gladness. It was her positive attitude and enthusiasm that helped her develop long-term friendships and business relationships all through the years. * Pursue Your Priorities

When she got married, she committed to raise her family the best way she could. Mom was always there for us, always willing to provide her precious time. We prayed, went to church, and had fun together as a family. Moreover, she gave us the necessary tools to do well in school. Many times, she had to swallow her pride just to borrow or rent Boy Scout uniforms or formal attire so we could participate in school programs.

Early on, she made us aware of her mission. Her priority was to provide each of us with a college education regardless of her financial circumstances. She considered education as the only way to prepare us for the future.

When the family business was thriving, she used the additional income to buy properties as investments. Her intention was to save for her children's future needs. So when I was in medical school and money was tight, she never hesitated to sell them just so I could pay my tuition fees and other school expenses.

* Develop a Strong Focus

My mom worked hard. She used to wake up early (around 5:00 a.m.), despite going to bed late (around 1:00 or 2:00 a.m.), to prepare the store for the day. Aside from her day job as a teacher, she was a full-time businesswoman in the evenings. She took care of her small restaurant and barbershop after work. During the day she would bring products to sell in a school store. I saw her rush to school, not just with a lesson plan but also with products in tow. On weekends she spent her free time with the customers and buying supplies, such as flour, bread, and meat, in nearby cities. Through hard work and focus Mom and Dad expanded their farm and grew their small business.

* Establish Your Integrity

My mom's coworkers and friends have always talked about Mom's integrity. Her words were consistently followed by appropriate actions. In short, her words were her actions, and vice versa. No wonder she gained the trust of her friends, relatives, and customers.

Even lenders trusted her with their money. Each time she needed money, lenders would not hesitate to give her what she needed. Because of her integrity, some friends and relatives had asked her to borrow funds for them from "difficult" lenders or to serve as a guarantor. She had helped many families through these unselfish actions.

* Believe in Your Abilities

Mom has always made us believe that we're capable of achieving our goals. I was only 10 years old when she would announce to everyone how "intelligent" my siblings and I were. To prove her point, she would even ask me or my older siblings for suggestions about family or personal matters.

My mom has always been proud of us. She values us. She focuses on our strengths and appreciates our efforts. She frequently reminds us that we each have a bright future. Because of her praise and positive expectations, we have confidence and strong belief in ourselves.

* Practice Self-Reflection

As a teenager, I was rebellious. I used to share with her my unconventional ideas about morality, religion, and politics. Instead of making comments, she would listen intently and made sure she understood me. Even during those times when I made mistakes, she never argued nor gave advice. Her infrequent and minimal comments would instead focus on the fact that I was "smart enough" to know what was good and appropriate.

But I realized later that her "quiet" response was more powerful than any argument or advice in the world. Her unexpected response allowed me to analyze and criticize my own thoughts and behavior during my quiet moments. Likewise, it allowed me to learn from my mistakes through self-reflection.

* Be Generous

All her life, my mom has always been generous. She gives even if she has little. I remember as a young boy when she had to borrow money so she could give to a relative or a close friend who required urgent assistance. In addition, she sent some of our poor relatives' kids to school. She liked to help because she experienced the harsh reality of poverty when she was young. Her intention was to help stop the cycle of lack in those families through education.

Moreover, she never hesitated to help a friend or a relative in need of basic necessities such as food and clothing. Her mindset was to serve others even if it meant sacrificing her own comfortable existence. It was, however, this profound sensitivity that endeared her to the hearts of others. * Have Faith

Like any woman who has had to deal with an unfaithful husband, she suffered from sleepless nights and emotional pain. When my dad eventually left her for a younger woman, her only refuge was prayer. I saw her endure from that ordeal. She wept. She lost weight and had some restless nights. And yet, through constant prayer, she maintained her equanimity and survived the worst storm in her life.

Her faith was tested yet again when my grandmother was suffering from the complications of dementia. For at least 10 years she was the only caregiver who was in my grandma's presence to meet her needs 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Through her unceasing faith, she faced the challenges of caregiving and provided for her mother's care without complaint.

Now that she faces another adversity--her own serious medical illness--she will remain strong as she has always been. For sure, her character and her faith will once again shine. Life has handed Mom its wonders and hardships, its opportunities and challenges, and its surprises and disappointments. No doubt, she has embraced them all with acceptance and firm resolve. My mom, who rarely gave direct advice, has proven that role modeling is crucial in teaching young minds the life lessons of success.

About the Author: This article was written by Michael Rayel, M.D., contributing author to "101 Great Ways to Improve Your Life: Volume 2." Dr. Rayel, CEO of Oikos Global--the maker of emotional intelligence games and educational products--has helped others learn emotional intelligence through his award-winning invention, the Oikos Game Series. For details, visit http://www.oikosglobal.com and http://www.oikosinsights.com