Lessons From My Mother – Entrepreneurship Starts at Home

Lessons From My Mother –  Entrepreneurial Training Begins at Home

My mother had me when she was 17.   She used to say, we grew up together, and at times it was very much like that.   As most mom’s do, she gave me so much more than I can ever thank her for, and there are some lessons that completely shaped who I am today and the kind of person I try to always be. 

We were very poor when I was a kid.  I did not realize that until much later in my life.  It was not until I was in middle school that I noticed a big divide between what other kids had and what I had.   I never noticed people treating me differently until I was about 7 when I was not invited to parties at school, or when I could not go on field trips because they cost money.    Ten years later, she was a world class Casting Director in Los Angeles, ultimately, being awarded an Emmy and Golden Globe for her work on Thirty Something and the Band Played On, respectively.

There are so many lessons in being effective; how to treat people; and never giving up; that if I shared them all this article would be a book.   So I will share with you the ones that I use most. 

Here goes!   

Lesson #1:  Never Listen to Anyone!

My Amazing Mom

What it takes to make your way in the world as a creative entrepreneur takes enormous courage and grit.   It is not hard but it can be intense.   To make it worse, everyone has an opinion and when you are working your butt off and eating potatoes and tuna fish twice a day, it can be very tempting to cave and listen to those boohoo’ers who say you should give up and get a job!   Don’t Do It!!  People always have opinions and always will.  About what?  Everything!   About what you should be doing, what is good work, what is too hard… from everything and anything.  People have their ideas about what is too risky and too threatening.   

What they are really telling you, from their profound love of you, is what is too scary, too risky, too threatening for them!    Don’t listen to anyone because they cannot walk in your shoes or speak from your lips.  And most certainly, they don’t see your vision.   Only you can make those choices and you are sometimes going to be wrong, and you will get through it.     

It means doing your own homework to find out what works and what doesn’t.  It means making choices that are not always comfortable and being out on the skinny branches more than most.   Let me remind you that that is where the fruit is! 

When I started opening businesses, (I opened my first business when I was 6 and it was an art gallery in a fifth floor walk-up in NY), I found that people had lots of ideas about how I should do business.   

The benefit of this incredibly critical lesson has been that I trust my instincts and do my own homework to learn what works and what doesn’t.   Other people’s fears are not going to get in my way and I truly hope they don’t get in yours either.   If they do, go to lesson #2!  

 

Lesson #2:  You Can Do Anything You Set Your Mind To! 

I was privileged to grow up with a super young (17 when I was born), super smart, artistic mom who read a lot.   Edgar Cayce was one of her favorites and she said a lot of things to me like, Mind Over Matter, and Make It Happen! 

I took this to heart at a very young age by learning to include my strong emotions and physical sensations that frequently accompany big adventures (like starting a dream business) and new activities, like speaking in public or travelling alone.   This took a lot of practice and still does.   Not having my fears overwhelm my other commitments took so much at times that I would feel faint, or not be able to stop crying.   You know what I did?   I cried through my introduction in front of the room.   I learned to have my emotions and bring them along with me, but not stop me.   At times they were not light, and with practice they travel more lightly now, but at times still get me.  

The benefit has been growing through what would have been crippling shyness to be a speaker and leader in my field.   When I first started leading programs and doing talks, I always had another leader in the back of the room, just in case I really did die in front of the room (as my imagination told me I would)!   I used to tell people, because it was true, that there was a time I could not lead 3 people in silent prayer.   Within a few years I was leading programs for hundreds of people at a time.    This was a dream and it only happened because of these 2 lessons…

Lesson #3   Respect:  Treat Others As You Would Like to Be Treated (my add on – As You Would Treat Your Best Friend’s Mom)

This is a more complex lesson, mostly because it unfolds in many ways.   

One, I learned to be kind to other living things and let them be the way they are.   Cats should not go in bathtubs full of water and sisters may need more hugs than I do.   Learning to respect others’ space and their natural ways allows me to be patient with other people’s learning and to be patient with myself as I make mistakes and clean them up.     We are all human and all life matters.   I strive to treat everyone like family.    

Two, I learned that relationships take time and attention.   I learned to take a beat before rushing up to a dog to say hello.  Dogs are not all friendly and meeting them takes real attention.    As a young child, I also connected this to people.   You cannot rush across the playground and just barge in to others kids who are playing.  You have to meet them, get invited, and play well with others.  I learned to take it a little slower than my heart desired.    

Three, respect everyone, not just adults or authority.   I used to think that respect is a two way street.   And it is in one way, but the big discovery was that I was being foolish to withhold respect until someone respected me first.  This was particularly noticeable in my teenage years when I so wanted to be more grown up than I was and wanted to be listened to by adults.  Same goes for small children.  I listen to them as if what they have to say is important (because it is!).  If you ever try this you will be amazed at how crystal clear they can be.    As the mom of 5, I can confidently say that almost all tantrums are from children who do not feel heard.   They just want to communicate what they want or what happened.  Sometimes they just want to share something with you.   (They might still cry when you say no after listening, but the fury can be diffused).   Adults are not much different.    When not listened to, or misunderstood, conflicts and hurt feelings get in the way of getting your goals achieved.  

The benefit of learning to respect others entirely,  has been being trusted.   Earning trust is not to be taken for granted and it takes being trustworthy with other’s identities, their things, their trust, and their concerns.    People say it takes a lifetime to build trust but only 1 moment to destroy it.  

This may seem entirely contradictory to Lesson #1, but not really.   When I say don’t listen to anyone, I mean don’t believe everything you hear.    Just because someone has said something does not make it real or true, or real or true for you and your future.  

You can listen and disagree, go your own way, and carve out your future.   Building a life of your dreams, living where you want, with who you want, doing the kind of work that really inspires you and turns you into the super hero in your dream…. This takes focused attention and a lot of personal development.   

Leaders are built from the heart out.

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For more reading on Causing Breakthroughs read: Dealing With Frustration and Despair

I started my first Creative Business when I was a single mom with four tiny children.   That was 25 years ago and I started Business 101 for Creative Entrepreneurs to give back.  I am so grateful for all the support did get while I was getting started, but more than anything I wished I had some business support, some mentoring or guidance.    I want you to know that I get how hard, confusing, and challenging it can be to be alone and have real questions with no one to ask.

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