Saturday, May 7, 2016

Alive. Because of her.

There are strong mothers. Then there is my mother. Widowed at 39, she was destined to raise five children on her own, her youngest, me, being only eight. 

Mothers are self-less. They sacrifice their lives for the betterment of their children. How can one human have so much dedication and love, I cannot fathom.

To watch what my mother, Haya, endured over the last 21 years, always makes me wonder if I'll ever be half the woman she is. 

"Have you become CEO of Medtronic yet?" One of her daily questions to me at lunch time.

"No mom, not yet."

"Then when?" 

"Soon," I answer with a smile. 

Her encouragement definitely got me where I am today. 

For this Mother's Day, I wanted to take a few moments to reflect on some of my favorite teachings from my own mom. 

Repetition Counts

Ever since I can remember, my mom would start my mornings with the same words of wisdom. By the time I was 13, I was able to repeat word-for-word, her daily lecture to me. It consisted of messages around education, trust, and chastity. 

Of course as a teenager (and even now in my twenties), the messages were getting quite annoying. However, when challenges occur and I find myself standing in the eye of the hurricane- her words are the only thing that can break my thought to support me on my next move. 

A senior Vice President of Medtronic always said you had to repeat something 37 times for it to stick with people. And with the decades that passed before me, I found that true with my mother's teachings. 

Aged Worthy Advice 

One of my many fears in ever becoming a parent is how to best teach and influence them to take the "right" path. Simon Sinek tells us to start with why. Well, if you've ever been around five year olds and ask them to do something, you get at least five whys before you get the result. 

Reflecting on my leadership career, I wondered how I developed key traits that make me who I am. And it was from the daily lecture my mom gave me. However, what I didn't realize until recently is how even though the message never changed, the words did. 

How can you teach a five year old about trust? I recall my mom telling me that if I ever missed my bus, to not get in the car with anyone, even if they said they knew my parents. It was always an odd statement. Like, if they know you, isn't that enough? But it worked because it helped me over time to develop an understanding of who I would or wouldn't trust. 

Timing For Words

So you can't necessarily tell your eight year old daughter that your father just died. Even if my Mom had, what would that mean? 

"Baba (dad in Arabic) went far away. He went to the sky." I would look up and wonder why he left. And I developed a passion for flying because I always thought I would be that much closer to him. 

With the notion of knowing how to tell people things, it is just as important as when. 

My favorite thing about my mother, is that she never told anyone off. But she never let anything slip by her either, to end on this final lesson. 

If someone tried to argue with her, she stayed calm, being the wiser and stronger person. However, when the timing was right, she would close the loop and normally with the minimal amount of words. 

This is so powerful and definitely memorable. I always wondered how she did it. At first, I thought she was being weak and even thinking to myself "my goodness, she is just going to take that?!" I never realized how she was preparing her response and delivering it when it was appropriate, if she decided they deserved one. 

My mother put her five children before her. Being a single parent, she had to develop a way to raise her children to be leaders with strong morals without pushing them away. 

The timing of her lessons is why it was always easy to make them resonate with me, no matter how repetitive she was. This post can no way be a measure of how much I thank and love her for who she is and thus who I am. It's just a way to jot down some of those lessons. 

Happy Mother's Day, Mom. It worked. 

*Haya in Arabic means living or alive

Circa 1987 

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