How Mom Taught 5 Pro Skills That You Need For Survival

How Mom Taught 5 Pro Skills That You Need For Survival
Come Mother’s Day and most of us joyfully recall the great relationship we have with our moms and the superb life lessons we have picked up from them. But for me, it has always been a little different. The days I have spent with her invariably remind me of the experience people have while going through a gruelling professional course at a top B-school. The only difference is that it’s not a 2-year programme, which could be easily written off if you choose to do so. With a mom to handhold you at the most impressionable age, the professional skills you are taught at the ‘homegrown B-school’ are likely to guide you for good.

Survival is a crucial concept in today’s dog-eat-dog world. I come from a middle-class Asian home and hold average degrees from government-run institutions – not exactly a suitable launch pad for a fabulous career. People fret too much nowadays if they can’t show off MBA degrees from top-tier B-schools and one can’t blame them either. During the great recession of 2008-09, people who were two decades younger than our group but hailed from the same background, were often at a career dead end and felt desperate. That’s because they don’t have the GMATs or the top grades to sail into premier management programmes or top jobs. Even now, majority of the Gen Y in India can’t pay tens of thousands of dollars for the kind of global education that will land them a great job, even though the country is home to 54 of the world’s biggest and most powerful companies.

However, a lot of older women like us plodded on painfully, getting a few pink slips here and there, but still managing to survive with a resilience that surprised all. Looking back at the roller-coaster professional ride many of us faced over the past few years (to say nothing of a troubled personal life that often results from financial insecurity), it suddenly dawned on me what pushed me ahead and helped me survive even in these turbulent times. It is the impact my mom has on me throughout a journey that was difficult at times, but vastly enriching in retrospect. Of course, you will come across people like her almost every day – a home-maker, a part-time teacher when she had some spare time, but most essentially the voice of reason, inspiration and courage that could shape young lives bit by bit.

Thinking about it, I feel immensely lucky to have been groomed in her homegrown B-school, learning the values that make work-life a meaningful experience till this day. Most moms train us in these skills pretty early in our life but in case you need to have a relook this Mother’s Day, here we go.

1. Learn and learn; every bit counts.

In a recent job interview, the interviewer casually observed that I had been through too many industries which were diverse in nature and went on to ask what my personal strength is. “The ability to learn,” I told him confidently. In every industry I worked, I picked up something new that added to my strength. For instance, I got my first taste of Web writing when I was developing content for an e-commerce portal. It’s not easy to get out of your comfort zone and do something new. But it’s got to be done if we want to advance in life.

However, the root of it all goes back to my failed attempts at cooking at the age of 15. When I grumbled that I would be a career woman and ‘girlie job’ would not be my forte, mom said quietly, “Learn all you can. Every bit counts.” That makes sound sense, even today. After all, which top company won’t welcome an employee with expertise in multiple domains? And in case you want to start a venture of your own, the more you know about things, the better your chance to succeed.

2. Give more than your 100%; keep a tab on your work.
It all started with my daily ritual of watering the plants at home. In the beginning, I used to put too much water or too little, and most of them sickened and died. “Do remember they are your responsibility…,” mom said after a month or so. “You need to do better than your best and you need to find out where you are going wrong.”

No excellent worker can let go of this principle if he/she wants to thrive. Not all jobs will give you an adrenaline rush or help you achieve great feats. But staying focused and working hard have their own rewards even when you are doing the most mundane task that no one else wants to touch with a barge-pole. It’s easy to perform well when you are in the limelight. But would you feel equally enthusiastic about a backstage job without which the show can’t go on? Keep reviewing your work and keep improving. No manager can outshine you when it comes to self-assessment for excellence.

How Mom Taught 5 Pro Skills That You Need For Survival

3. Opportunities won’t come your way; you have to seek them.
As a kid, I was fond of acting but never got a scope to prove my prowess although most of my classmates appeared in a show or two. I was complaining bitterly about it but mom pointed out that it could be my fault. “You can’t wait a lifetime for a lucky break. But you can definitely show your mettle and gun for every opportunity,” she observed.

I never got a chance to act in the school drama, but keeping in mind what she said, I had never let go of an opportunity for lack of persistence. It could be a top job or a big customer or an innovative product development. And the task in hand may look quite intimidating. But don’t give up without trying really hard and don’t be scared to take calculated risks. If you are passionate about the things you want to achieve, you are bound to win the game.

4. You don’t win all; but that’s no reason to run away.
At school, I was poor at gym and ashamed of my puppy fat. But mom stood her ground and would not let me skip a single PT class, try as I may. She arranged for some extra lessons, so that I become moderately good at it, but I had never been the star performer that I wanted to be. “That’s okay, really,” assured mom. “It’s important to know that everyone has a serious limitation in life. You can only do your best and accept the shortcoming with humility.”

That’s perhaps the most difficult thing to do – to be on-field and trying when you know you are not even the second best. But believe in yourself and never falter in your conviction. One day, you may achieve what your fellow-humans never even thought of. Meanwhile, it teaches us valuable patience and a much-needed lesson in empathy.

5. Give back more; nothing works better in work or life.
Giving back to society is not an exclusive corporate responsibility, but a commitment we should all support. I went to a school where volunteering was mandatory and mom tried to instill that spirit of giving pretty early in the day. However, it’s a practice that can connect us all across our personal and professional lives. And it need not be always materialistic in nature. Have you ever tried giving a warm word of praise to an overworked team-member, showing your genuine appreciation? A firm handshake to show you are there for your co-worker? A sympathetic hug to show you understand that your colleague is passing through hard times?

In this tough game called Life, we are bound to win some and lose some. But what matters most is the respect we should have for others and the sense of camaraderie that we should develop for a strong human bonding. Once you instill a sense of self-worth in people, the survival skills won’t be difficult to learn and the road to success won’t elude them.

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