I was at a dinner party the other night when someone posed this question: Who has influenced your life the most? I thought for a minute and said what no one else said, “My mother.”
You see, when I was 4, my dad died. At the time, it seemed like we were on top of the world. My dad was making good money and we were living in the biggest house in one of the most prestigious country clubs in Seattle. Then my dad was diagnosed with cancer and was gone in six months. That’s when we found out that my dad didn’t have great life insurance. My mom and I went from the upper bracket to the lower middle almost overnight.
As I reflect back on my life, most of what I am today I learned from a tough-as-nails woman who went to work and busted her tail to get me ready for life. I realize now how many success principles she displayed while living out her life.
The following success principles, though they can be and should be applied by all of us, are dedicated to all of those single moms out there. You are doing a tough job. Keep plugging away, be tenacious and love your kids. They’ll see your life and turn out all right.
1. Don’t whine during tough times. You know, my mom got a bad deal, but as I look back on it, I cannot ever remember her complaining about her lot in life. That spoke volumes to me and has been a lesson ever since. Two people working, one whines, the other makes the most of the situation and works harder—who do you root for?
2. Be creative. My mom immediately went to selling real estate. She did all right, but she also bought old houses and fixed them up and sold them. We would move in and she would hire the workers from the real estate office to fix up the house on the weekends. A couple of years later, we would sell the house and pocket some much needed extra cash. I moved a lot, but you do what you have to when your back is against the wall.
3. Sacrifice for others. I know we didn’t have much growing up, but my mom always found ways to give me the extras. We would cut back here and there so that we could take a trip to Disneyland or get new athletic shoes. Finding purpose by sacrificing for others is one of the highest calling in success.
Successful people live not only for themselves but for those around them as well.
4. Be independent. My mom didn’t cut corners or get a leg up in anything. She worked hard for what she got. And she taught me to do the same. I can remember being taught to do things on my own that other parents were doing for their kids. Many of those kids still need their parents to get the job done.
Successful people don’t rely on others to do for them what they can do themselves.
5. Believe in yourself. When I would say I wanted to do something but didn’t think I could, my mom would ask me, “Has anybody else ever done it?” I would say “Of course, lots of people.” Her reply? “Then you can, too. You are smarter than them!” Well, I probably wasn’t smarter than them, but point well taken. If someone else has proven it can be done, then you have a chance.
Successful people believe that they can do it!
6. Have a dream and pursue it—even if it takes years. My mom kept a dream alive and pursued it on the side as I grew up. The year I graduated from high school, my mom graduated from college. She was 54 years old. She kept her dream alive and worked at it bit by bit and finally it happened.
Successful people dream big dreams and then complete them no matter how long it takes.
7. Stretch yourself. I can remember my mom taking me to business and real estate seminars when I was a 12-year-old kid. Not because she couldn’t find babysitting, but because she wanted me to learn something. Most parents wouldn’t even think that their 12-year-old could learn something there. Mine did.
Successful people stretch themselves.
8. Experience is the greatest teacher. My mom used to pull me out of school all the time and take me on these wild trips and journeys. I would say, “Uh, mom, shouldn’t I be in school?” She would always answer the same way, “Chris, we can’t let school get in the way of your education!”
Successful people understand that going to school can get you some knowledge and a degree, but nothing beats actually doing it.
9. Some things are worth more than money. One of the greatest sacrifices my mother made for me was when I began high school. I did well in sports and played in the evenings, so my mom quit selling real estate, which takes up a lot of evenings, and took a lower-paying job as a secretary at the university. She rarely missed a game all through high school.