A while ago, I read Richard Branson’s 5 Lessons I learned from my Mum
Ever since then I’ve been inspired to write my own version of what I learned from mine. My mother was a stay-at-home mom, at least for most of my growing up years. She belonged to a generation of Indian women who weren’t expected to have a full-time job or career, despite her college education. They were expected to support their husbands in their careers, and bring up their children while the men when to work. And that’s exactly what Ma did too. And she did a fantastic job at it. Bringing up three children, with a husband who was aggressively building up a company for the initial two decades of their married life , was no mean feat. At least, now that I look back in hindsight, I realize what an unsung hero my mother was. No certificates, no medals of appreciations, no material compensation. Yet, day in and day out, she put in her mind, body, heart and soul into her household and domestic duties, pushing all her boundaries to excel at them. And she never got paid, promoted, and applauded. To me, the more I think about it, the more I marvel at her internal motivation to be a better wife and mother, every single day of her life.
I on the other hand, grew up in a generation where women were clamoring for equality to the male counterparts in, every sphere of life. Which meant I always grew up knowing I wanted a career. I grew up admiring women who’d made in big in the corporate world, as entrepreneurs, and as global icons. Yet after almost half a decade of being out in the real world, I realize now that some of the invaluable lessons of life came from my stay-at-home. In her tiny lessons of life, lay teachings that have served me incredulously well in my professional life.
- Frugality & Budgeting – Frugality was always a core value growing up. And my mother reinforced it, constantly. ‘Money doesn’t grow on trees’, and ‘Daddy works so hard for all of us’, I remember her saying all the time. Minimizing wasteful expenditure, buying only what you need, and above all, respecting the value of money, were ideals she emphasized. She would give us pocket-money, and encourage us to write down in our little diaries, how much we were spending. These tiny habits today have translated into me being very careful about budgeting, keeping track of expenses, and storing resources for a rainy day.
- Attention to detail – My mother’s eye for detail never fails to astonish me, even today. Her ability to spot even the tiniest speck of dust on the kitchen counter, or the littlest crumb on the floor, or the faintest stain on our clothes. Even though I haven’t inherited even half of her well-trained eye, I do believe that I get my love for detailing from her. One that shows when I proof read my emails twice before I sent them out.
- Planning & Organization – My mother’s organization skills could seriously give Marie Kondo a run for her money. ‘A place for everything, everything in its place’ was, and remains her organization mantra. Right from her kitchen where every utensil, every spice container and every piece of cutlery had its own shelf and drawer, to teaching us how to fold and store our clothes according to occasion and type, to neatly storing my father’s work files in alphabetical order. And at work, I’m only learning to be more and more organized with each passing day. With my files, my documents, and my assignments. Because a little planning goes a long way. And the opposite too.
- Gratitude – Ma taught us to not complain. To be thankful for what you have, rather than what you don’t. She taught us that if something annoys you, you either change the situation, or you leave the room. Anything but sit and complain. And I carried this lesson with me to the workplace. When professional setbacks, situations or even colleagues got me down, I stood up and tried my best to do something about it. Rather than sit back on my chair and cringe about how unfair the world was.
- Patience & Silent strength – From my mother, I learned that good things come, not only if you work hard for them, but also if you wait for them. She taught me the power of resilience. The ability to face every situation with grace and poise. A virtue that’s becoming more and more respected in the boardroom.
Ma remains, and will remain my most important pillar of strength. Because in her little actions lay principles and values I’m certain no degree could ever teach me. And even though I don’t say this enough, I am indebted and thoroughly grateful to her. In the ultimate analysis, all I can say is ‘Thank You Ma’.