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Leadership Lessons from Mom

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Today is Mother’s Day here in the United States and in many countries around the globe. Since my mom passed away a few years ago, the holiday has become a little bittersweet. But the day has always reminded me how fortunate I am to have had a mom who gave me the tools I needed to succeed in life and also in business.

My mom didn’t have an MBA or work in corporate America, but she very well could have given the abundance of leadership lessons she dispensed to my five siblings and me during our upbringing in the Midwest.

Though dad was a two-star general in the Army Reserves, Mom was the true general when it came to the six Gorsky kids. She definitely adhered to the proverb that if you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day; teach him to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime. Rather than doing everything for us, mom instead taught us how to do things for ourselves.

From a young age, I was expected to do my part around the house. When my clothes were dirty, I did the wash. If my shirts were wrinkled, I took out the iron.

Mom could be tough, but her approach undoubtedly helped each of us develop our independence and become self-reliant. Like a great leader, she knew how to bring out the best in each of us and taught us to recognize our own unique talents and skills. In turn, we wanted to bring our A game to everything we did to make mom proud.

With six kids, there was a lot to juggle and a lot of different personalities to manage for sure. But mom had an uncanny ability to connect with each of us in a personal way.

She inspired us to set goals for ourselves and work persistently to achieve those goals. When I knew at age 12 that I wanted to go to West Point, my mom became my biggest cheerleader throughout middle school and high school. She encouraged me to not only study hard, but helped instill in me a true love of reading and continuous learning. She cultivated my curiosity and encouraged me to ask why and, perhaps more importantly, to ask why not.

If having six kids wasn’t enough of a full-time job, my mom also managed to have a career as a special education teacher while raising us. Mom was a master of time management and setting priorities.

But as busy as her schedule could be, I always felt like a priority even as the third born in the middle of six kids. She made my brothers and sisters feel the same way.

Great moms, like great leaders, believe in you, but more importantly they inspire you to believe in yourself.

Thanks, Mom. And thanks to all the moms around the world. Happy Mother’s Day.

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