Friday I attended Southern Colorado Women’s Chamber networking breakfast where we did the usual “Hello, my name is…” elevator speech with a twist. Each person added one piece of advice their mother gave them. I admit at first I thought it was schmaltzy. I was prepared for a lot of “unconditional love” and “do your best”, but the folks in this crowd really got me thinking that there’s a place for those tried and true statements. There were some unique suggestions that I realized really can help us all do better in life and in business.
Be Kind: This originates in the phrase “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” Attributed to Plato, Ian MacLaren, and others. I admit this is one of my personal favorites and if my kids are ever in this position it is probably the message I send to them most often. Recently I joined the board of The Sue DiNapoli Ovarian Cancer Society. In that roll I am talking to many of my colleagues about sponsoring. I am saddened by how many reveal they have battled ovarian cancer or have lost someone to cancer. It is touching, but drives home the fact that we know so little of one another.
I Will Survive: Perhaps this mom came of age in the 80’s, or perhaps she just knows that life throws us a lot of challenges and we can all handle more than we give ourselves credit for. Either way, I love the indomitable spirit behind it and the realistic message that life will be difficult at times. Difficulty is to be expected, but we can survive it.
Every Person has a Story and Deserves a Listener: I loved this advice because it goes beyond the original phrase and calls for action. It doesn’t call for rescue or repair, but compassion and active listening, two hallmarks of my most successful clients. It is one thing to be aware that we all have a story, but it is an additional level of awareness to believe everyone deserves to be heard. Are you truly listening for the stories your clients have to tell? What about your colleagues or your staff? Listen to those around you to build stronger client relationships and a more cohesive team.
Embrace Playfulness: Life will throw you some curve balls, that is for sure. But life will send you some hilarious moments that are to be embraced and reveled in. Take the time to play, to enjoy the silly things that life brings your way. You will find this adds to your resilience in the tough times.
Don’t Forget Your Manners: The phrase used what “There’s never an excuse to not be a lady”, but I want to apply this to all of us. Whether you are in client meetings or a networking event there is always room for good manners. I have gotten so excited about seeing a contact at an event that I just barge in and interrupt! So rude! But I fall all over myself apologizing. Unfortunately, I could really lengthen this blog with my tales of accidental rudeness, but hopefully each one has a tale of apology and learning from my mistakes. You won’t necessarily be remembered for being polite, but you darn sure will be remembered for being rude. When you accidentally err on the side of rudeness, apologize. That in itself is another form of good manners.
If You Do Good It Comes Back to You: Call it Karma if you wish, but I truly believe in what goes around comes around. Always approach your relationships by behaving not just as you would hope other would behave, but going above and beyond. By sending good out into the world you can rest assured that at some point the good will circle back around and be done for you.
Treat Others as You Wish to be Treated: Ah, The Golden Rule. I realize these two tips from Mom are very similar, but I include them both because you cannot go wrong if you always put yourself in the shoes of your clients and treat them as you would want to be treated. In business we can lose track of the fact that our client doesn’t know what we know. It can be scary to be the client needing to admit your area of ignorance, neglect, or mistakes. Perhaps treat others as you would wish your mother or grandmother to be treated. Imagine whomever you need to on the other side of the table or other end of the phone in order to provide the most compassionate service possible. Do not treat others as an expert in your field would wish to be treated, but rather as a person utterly new to your area of business and intimidated by your expertise would wish to be treated.
If You Are Going to be A Woman in Business, BE in Business: This advice came from a woman born in a time when not all women were in business. She threw the concept of “It’s a man’s world” out the window by adding the phrase, “but it doesn’t have to be”. Approach your business strongly, confidently, and with a firm handshake. Do not expect the world to hand you anything, be prepared to do the work to get it.
Don’t Lose Track of Work Life Balance: Oy, this is just an intro to another blog post! If you are a solo entrepreneur or a small business owner the constant struggle can be to turn off work. Use your technology to help you. Set times for when your phone reaches you, set business hours and don’t check email outside of those hours. Set your clients’ expectations on email and phone call response. Each business owner will have their own ideas of a perfect balance. I won’t tell you what your ideal it, but I want to you really think about what you want your life to look like and make a plan to let that happen.
Author’s Note: Apologies to my editor whose services I skipped in order to get this out. Any poor phrasing, bad grammar, or other editing issues are all my own. But hey, advice from Mom can’t wait!