Three Leadership Lessons I Learned From My Mom – by Alex Bjerk

Throughout my entire life, my mother has always been a rock in our family for my sister and I. She has always done everything in her power to provide for us and make us happy. She did so all while holding a plethora of different jobs, from a factory worker, to owning a beauty salon, a manager of a liquor store, and many more–eventually securing a position in medical administration. Here are some ways my mom displayed leadership characteristics to me throughout my life.

1) Determination: There are many times throughout my life that my mom has shown great determination. Here are a few examples to paint a picture. When my sister and I were young, my mom quit her job at the factory in our small town to go back to school to become a beautician. At the same time, she worked nights as a bartender to put food on our table and ensure our needs were met. When I was young, I didn’t realize the gravity of this situation and the determination that she had to better not only our lives, but also her own life. As I reflect on this, I couldn’t imagine how difficult and scary it must have been to follow through with a decision like that, especially while caring for a six and three-year-old. In the last five years she has decided to go back to school once again, determined to better herself. She has earned numerous certificates and degrees pertaining to medical administration. As my sister and I have both left home and started lives of our own, we look back upon and use the determination and tenacity that our mother instilled in us to lead successful and happy lives.

2) Hard Work: To say that my mother is a hard worker is an understatement. This relates to my previous leadership characteristic of determination, but the sheer work ethic of this super hero that I call mom is worth mentioning. Starting with the days she used to work long hours on the line in the factory, to the crazy long hours she put in at the salon she owned, and last but certainly not least, holding a full-time day job while putting herself through school. The work ethic that she has shown me from not only preaching it, but also leading by example is a big reason why I am the person that I am today. I credit the majority of accomplishments in my life to good old-fashioned hard work. She has definitely been a true leader in showing my sister and I what hard work means and what you can achieve with it.

3) Fight Through Adversity: Beyond the day-to-day of raising children and working to put food on the table and clothes our backs, my mom had to overcome massive feats of adversity in her life. When she was just 27 years old, she suffered from a ruptured brain aneurysm, which according the Brain Aneurysm Foundation, are fatal in 40% of cases, not to mention that roughly 66% of those who survive are left with some sort of permanent neurological deficiency. She overcame this obstacle, made a full recovery, and continued to care for her family. When she was in her early 30’s, she was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, which is a crippling joint disease with no cure, only treatment of the symptoms. Yet she pushed forward and continued her life as a hard-working mother, determined not to let it slow her down. When my mom turned 40, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and received surgery and treatment to try and rid her body of this far too common disease. After 5 long years, she was declared cancer free from her doctors. Once again, this amazing woman had beaten the odds and fought through the adversity to fight another day. This lesson is the most important one I have learned from my mother that no matter what the odds or the situation I can emerge as a better person on the other side.

I find myself using these lessons on a daily basis not only in my professional life, but also in my personal life. It doesn’t matter if it is a problem at my job or if I am going through a personal situation that I need to fight through to make myself better. I think a lot of people take for granted the lessons that our parents, especially our mothers, teach us throughout our lives. So, I would like to challenge anyone who may read this to take some time this month and ponder on the things you have learned from your mother, and maybe tell her thank you. Thank you to my mother who has molded not only me, but also my sister, who is about to become a first-time mom, into the people we are today.

Thank you to all moms for sharing their valuable lessons and insights on what it means to be a leader.

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