Our mothers give us so many gifts. They give us the precious gift of life, of course, but they also leave treasured lessons that can guide us along our journeys even when they are no longer with us” – Maria Shriver
My mom has been a source of inspiration to me. She has proven that one can be successful in both career and family. Watching her while growing up, I used to wonder how someone could be almost faultless. I have come to realize that she didn’t just become that near-perfect sweet mom that she is now, she deliberately worked on herself and now all I can see are results of almost 6 decades of labour.
Successful people are self aware and totally committed to lifelong self development strategies. It takes discipline to stay committed, and committed people are successful people. Understudying my mom, I gleaned these secrets underlying her successful life:
Secret One: Delaying Gratification
“The ability to discipline yourself to delay gratification in the short term in order to enjoy greater rewards in the long term is the indispensable prerequisite for success” – Brian Tracy
My mom is a woman that has mastered the skill of delaying gratification. She sacrificed a lot for us as a family. She understands her values and priorities and focuses on them. For me, I went to one of the best universities in Nigeria, Covenant University. This was a lot of financial commitment from my mother. I realize she could have saved more than 90% of the money to indulge herself, or send me to a less expensive school. The emphasis here is on her commitment to give me the best education, despite the challenges she faced at the time. She chose to invest in me with all she had, despite the odds. Now, she sits back and savours the fruits of her labour: I graduated with a first class, my siblings have good careers and are settled in their respective homes, and there are many more rewards to come.
In career or personal life, immediate gratification can be very tempting. But while making a choice, we need to consider the opportunity cost in order to make the best choices. For instance, rather than spend that money now if you don’t have to, maybe you could save and use it later when a need such as an emergency arises.
But it is not an easy task – ask my mum, she would tell you! When your mate lands a new job with a robust package, but you remain in the same organization where you are being underpaid because you want to get experience or because you are pursuing your passion, it is not easy to remain focused on your path, and not make haste to secure similar gratification. The pull to make money your immediate and sole career focus could be insurmountable at times like this. But every successful person would tell you that at different points in their life they had to sacrifice temporary pleasure, close their eyes to distractions, even cut off from interesting relationships, just to get the best reward in the future.
Secret Two: Humility
“True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less” – C.S Lewis
Humility is an unspoken inner strength that my mom possesses. She is self aware and that has made her secure. She understands her strengths and weaknesses, and therefore she is able to help others with her strengths without being arrogant and also able to get help from others by being teachable.
Those who think they know all things actually know nothing. Humble people are teachable; they are open to learn even from the least person in the organization or environment if they have to. Humility is a very important key to climbing up the ladder of success. It takes humility to remain accessible when you are at the top, it takes humility to acknowledge ignorance in certain areas and allow yourself to learn, and it takes humility to teach others the secrets to your own success. The crux of humility is self-confidence/security. Successful people don’t make noise about their accomplishment, they let it speak for them.
Secret Three: Gratitude
“Gratitude turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity…it makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” – Melody Beattie
My mother is the most grateful person I have encountered so far. She is ever grateful in plenty and in scarcity. She is grateful for the people around her. She has this principle: once you do her a favour, no matter how small, she remains grateful for life. Regardless of what the individual does afterwards that could undermine or severe the relationship, she remembers the favour and remains grateful. I find this really fascinating because it is very easy to forget the good people do to us, we tend to put them in their place when they offend us. But that is not so for my mother. She has created a magnetic atmosphere of gratitude that attracts success to her.
It is not uncommon to find very ungrateful people around us. They complain about everything and see no reason to be grateful. Such people are toxic and should be avoided. Being grateful shouldn’t be dependent upon experiencing the good side of life. Cultivating an attitude of gratitude in all circumstances is an essential secret to success. Grateful people are always joyful. Their joy is not tied to external factors but is internally generated. Such persons are able to weather the storms of life faster. In fact, they are thankful for the storms because it makes them stronger.
Secret Four: Value relationships
“People were made to be loved. Things were made to be used. The reason why the world is in chaos is because things are being loved, and people are being used” – Author Unknown
The importance of relationships cannot be overemphasized. In today’s world, it is getting more difficult to build great relationships. There are many sycophants who stick with you only when the going is good. Also, in our world today, society seem to give tacit approval to value personal accomplishments and wealth over relationships. The question is, when the chips are down, or when it’s time to draw the curtain on life, what would matter most at that point in time: your accomplishments and wealth or the people in your life?
My mom treats everyone with kindness and respect regardless of age, race, and social status. There was a time she had an accident and I was amazed at the number of persons that came to the hospital as soon as they heard about the incident. Even after she was discharged, many came to the house with lots of gifts and also gave her the support she needed at that time. She received immense healing feeling satisfied that she had people who loved her that much.
It may seem like wealth and accomplishments are all that matters to people, but in reality, on individual level at least, people care more about the accomplishments of sensitive people than mean or selfish people. Put in a different way: nobody wants to know how much you know until they know how much you care. Without people to affirm and acknowledge, what use are accomplishments? You don’t want to get all the awards and recognition with no one to share the joy with.
“It is lonely at the top” applies when we focus just on ourselves, failed to help others climb up, and do nothing to nurture and maintain healthy relationships. Contribution to humanity is the legacy we leave behind and ultimately what we are remembered for, and not accomplishments.
Secret Five: Grudgeless
“Holding on to anger, resentment and hurt only gives you tense muscles, a headache and a sore jaw from clenching your teeth. Forgiveness gives you back the laughter and the lightness in your life” – Joan Lunden
It is very hard to offend my mother. She appears to have built an impenetrable wall around her mind that prevents offences from passing through. She hardly takes things to heart. This is an uncommon trait. I remember there was an issue sometime, and I told her: “mom you have to take this up.” Her response was epic: “it is not necessary, allow yourself to be defrauded…” Wow! How on earth could I let things just slide? It does not seem just or even fair to me. It also comes across as weakness. Getting even seem more satisfactory, therefore more appealing. However, my mom taught me that forgiveness actually puts me in a position of strength than weakness. It takes maturity not to hold grudges.
Being grudgeful makes us bitter. Bitter people can never be successful people because their emotional status determines the worth of their life. The truly wise people run away from grudges because it is a trap. It is human to be hurt by what someone did or said. But emotionally intelligent people do not dwell on it. Rather than allow resentment, hate and anger, they forgive.
Why waste precious time and energy resenting someone and plotting payback when you can channel it into something that would advance your life?
“Successful people do daily what unsuccessful people do occasionally” – Dr. Mike Murdock
Success is not for those who know its secrets but for those who are able to unlock these secrets and do them consistently until they become a habit. Knowledge is not power; consistently applied knowledge is power.
What success habits have you learnt from your mom? Please feel free to share in the comment box below.