Thank You Mom: Lessons that Prepared Us for the Adult Working World


by Denise Sherwood

Reflecting on our childhood, phrases such as “you’ll thank me when you’re older” and “because I said so” make frequent appearances. At the time, it wasn’t apparent we were learning life-long lessons. Now, it’s obvious that mom always knows best. Some of the most basic rules that got us through our awkward teen stages are great to fall back on in the workplace as adults.

In honor of Mother’s Day, here are some of the most important lessons from mom that helped shape us as adults and prepare us for our careers.

Mind your manners. Be polite. Always send thank-you emails and notes, hold the door open for another person, make eye contact with others, and offer a helping hand. If somebody on your team needs extra help, be the first one to volunteer. Great things happen when you have great manners.

Focus on others. When meeting somebody new and trying to make a connection, ask questions and focus on them. Be naturally curious. People enjoy talking about their family, interests, friends, and life. By asking questions and keeping yourself engaged, you’ll be able to learn more about the person you’re speaking with. You can learn amazing things by asking questions and listening.

Take responsibility. If you mess up, fess up. People respect those who take responsibility for their actions. Accountability is key, especially in a company setting or on a team. Strive to have a no-excuses attitude.

Keep a positive attitude. If you have stinking thinking, you’ll have a stinky life. Your mindset becomes your words, which turn into actions, which can alter your entire life.

Cease the opportunity. Raise your hand and step forward. Don’t be afraid to take a risk and be comfortable with the uncomfortable.

Listen carefully to others. There’s no doubt you have some brilliant ideas, but others have dazzling ideas as well. Simply being polite and listening can be one of life’s biggest lessons. You can learn things you never imagined and spark new ideas.

The golden rule. Treat others as you would like to be treated. Be honest, play fair, be willing to help, and be kind.

Go the extra mile. Even at work, you don’t want to be a minimalist. When asked to complete a task, go for the surprise factor. Ask yourself, “How can I add value to this project and to this company?” Strive to surprise not only yourself, but those around you as well.

Use your words. If you’re upset about something, be direct and discreet. If you’re not going to address the situation face-to-face with somebody, then let it go. If you can’t move on or stop thinking about it, speak directly with the person whom with the problem lies. Rather than relying on your tone or your actions to show how you feel, use your words. If you need help, consider taking a course in conflict management.

Be true to yourself. Do what makes you happy and stay authentic. Follow your dreams, not somebody else’s.

Patience is a virtue. Waiting is hard, and it’s not fun. But if you take a breather and find something productive to do while you wait, it can be easier.

Chew with your mouth closed. As kids, this was annoying and a hassle. As adults, it is a necessary staple for life. If you don’t follow this rule as an adult, you’re likely torturing the people around you. Please, stop torturing us.

Work hard. Life isn’t fair; you have to work hard if you really want to get ahead. You have to mentally commit if you want to reach your dreams, but then you also have to work for it. You have to put in the time to achieve the outcome.

Not every lesson our mothers taught us was easy, but thank goodness they toughed it out! Mothers, thank you for your love, support, common sense, and life-long lessons. You were right, we did thank you when we got older.


Denise is an executive VP of Sandler Training, Sales Performance Plus, LLC. She is a co-founder of Inforum-West Michigan and serves on the board of directors for GROW.




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