Three Leadership Lessons I Learned From My Mom – by Joanne Samson

For over 30 years, my mom worked the graveyard shift so that she could be at home and available for my siblings and me during the day. She worked as a nursing manager in a trauma hospital overseeing both the intensive care and critical care units. My mom was really good at managing chaos and intense pressure, both at work and at home raising a family. I take from her some incredible lessons that have guided and inspired me in many of my adult roles: as a leader, a wife, and as a mom.

1) In Times of Chaos, Keep It Together. I’ve seen how my mom can become intensely focused during highly stressful moments. As a trauma nurse, she was great at communicating so people could take action and make things happen quickly in order to calm a situation. She could do it with incredible tact and diplomacy. She taught me that even when the pressure is high, demonstrating composure is important in order to provide clear direction and guidance to others. When it may feel like things are spiraling out of control, a leader helps change the direction to get others focused. I’m just now discovering that this same lesson applies when it comes to parenting kids.

2) Culture Matters. Growing up, the culture of our family mattered. My mom was all about family and gatherings. And it wasn’t just my parents, siblings and me; it included my extended family of aunts, uncles, and so many cousins. My mom was intentional about making the efforts around family gatherings be important and a priority to all of us. She was our family’s matriarch and worked hard to make sure we all participated and were authentically present at family gatherings. She showed me that when you make time to invest in your family, it makes the foundation for relationships strong. She taught me that the culture of your relationships – at work and in marriage – also requires an investment of attention and care. A leader, or strong partner, takes responsibility and time to nurture those relationships.

3) Take Risks and Try It Out. My immigrant parents had the courage to leave their home country to start a new life for their own family – in a new country not having too much of a plan about how they were going to make it work. They took a big risk in order to give our family opportunities. As long as I can remember, my mom embraces trying new things. She learned new skills to grow her successful career, volunteers on several international medical missions in her retirement so she can work with people she wouldn’t have had the chance to do so, and she started kickboxing at the age of 70 just because she wanted to try it out. She’s showed me that taking a chance and trying different things can be rewarding. While my mom’s caliber of risk taking is unique to her; her appetite to try new things, no matter what stage in life, encourages me to do the same.

Although my mom has retired, she continues to inspire the way I approach my roles in adulthood. She’s gifted me with incredible lessons of leadership, and I appreciate how she continues to influence the person I am today. Happy mother’s day to you every day, mom!

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