This post was originally written for the Student Leader Collective, a community of student leaders sharing ideas on how to become more awesome, in May 2014. The Student Leader Collective no longer exists, so I am reposting this here.
If I thought for even one second that I became the leader I am today all by myself, without the help of anyone else, I would be sadly and sorely mistaken. Friends, fellow students, co-workers, mentors- they’ve all helped shaped the person I am today. More than anyone, my mother has been a crucial force in raising me to be a leader. Without further ado, here are six ways my mother helped me become a leader.
1. She taught me the value of sharing. First it was sharing my toys with my brother, and then with my other toddler friends. Then it was sharing things I’d been given in limited quantities, such as food. Then we moved on to sharing my talents, and helping others when I could. Finally, she taught me how to share my to-do list- that one’s still my favourite!
2. She acted as my chauffeur. The activities I was involved in growing up helped me become the leader I am today. From soccer games, to figure skating lessons, to band practice, Girl Guides, and 8 million school clubs, these activities helped me develop the skills that I still use every day as a student leader. My participation in any of these activities would not have been possible without my mother acting as my chauffeur at all hours of the day and night.
3. She was always there when things went wrong. When everything is going wrong, a mother is always the one person you know you can turn to. Maybe there’s a lot of interpersonal conflict on your team, maybe an event you planned bombed big time, or maybe you’re being heavily criticized for a decision you made. If your mother is anything like mine, she’ll listen to you rant, provide you with advice, and encourage you to never give up.
4. She was always there when things went right. She’s the one who buys you roses after your first stage debut, a cake to celebrate your graduation, and has a hug and a “congratulations” ready whenever you reach even the smallest of milestones. She’s taught me the power of recognition, and I’ve learned to pass that on.
5. She taught me the power of negotiation. As a young child, parents are pretty much the only way to get anything you want- the newest toy, a mid-day snack, a trip to the park, or a later bedtime. Sometimes simply asking and providing a good reason was enough, but more often than not, I had to offer her something in order to get what I wanted- “I’ll sweep the floor for you if we can go to the beach later.”
6. She taught me that hard work was necessary. If I didn’t do my household chores, there was no way I was getting my allowance. If I didn’t practice my multiplication tables, I was never going to win “Around the World.” She never did my school projects for me, and I quickly learned that the only way I was going to get anywhere was to do the work myself.
My mother has taught me so many leadership lessons, by encouraging habits and skills within myself, and by emulating these habits and skills herself. Happy Mothers’ Day, Mom!