Building my company over the last 25 years has oftentimes been a lonely, frustrating road as I tried to figure out how to balance my life, be a good Mom, meet my revenue goals, bounce back from numerous failures, provide my team with a positive work culture, wow our clients, eat well, exercise, figure out who are my true friends and confidants, be competitive, survive through a divorce and stay totally zen by being spiritually grounded. Needless to say, that load was way too heavy to carry on my own and many times I crashed and burned on the couch of my neighbor, Alberta B. White.
There are people who come into your life for a season and completely change the course of your life. They pour their wisdom, heart, and soul into every fiber of your being and make you a much better version of yourself. Alberta B. White, or Mama as I called her, did that for me. Although she was my next-door neighbor for over 17 years, I knew she was my Mom. She called me daughter, and I was born in her heart. She coached me about everything in my life. I called/texted her before and after my high-stakes presentations regardless of where I was in the world and before high-pressure meetings with global CEOs We cooked for each other, she advised me on my relationship with my son and attended his school functions, was a rock throughout my divorce, and brought me to a new level of my faith walk with God.
As I officiated her funeral, I began thinking about the joy she brought to my life and how I can carry on her legacy, leadership, light, and love because so many of her life lessons made me a better leader.
Prepare for the difficult and inevitable; don’t avoid it.
There are some things in life we know will occur, yet we avoid them and pretend they do not exist: death, taxes, conflict, disaster. When I got the news that Mama passed, I was deeply hurt but at the same time at peace and overwhelmed with joy. How could that be? I was at peace because she was ready and the joy came from the honor I had of knowing her and being under her leadership. Even though she
was relatively healthy for a 78-year woman, Mama had all her affairs in order and had for quite some time. She planned her own funeral from the songs to sing at the service to the outfit she wanted to wear. Passwords and access codes were easily accessible and she had a how-to manual on what to do when she passed. This took a huge strain off the family. As I stood officiating her service, I thought about all the inevitable difficult things we all know we have to face but we avoid. How will your life be different if you did some preparation in anticipation of those difficult times?
You are nobody’s dumping ground.
How often do you find yourself complaining about people who waste your time, treat you unfairly or are filled with negativity every time you get around them. Their behaviors run counter to what you want and believe but for some reason you subject yourself to their presence. Whenever I would start a conversation describing something difficult in my life, Mama would look me in the eye and simply say, “You are nobody’s dumping ground, move away from that.” Simple yet true. What do you need to move away from? Stop catching the leftovers, throw-outs, and garbage that others spew out. You are nobody’s dumping ground.
Know your worth.
Everyone struggles at some point about recognizing their true value. Are you confident enough to ask for the raise, apply for the job, raise your prices, speak up for yourself, leave the company of toxic people? These are the situations that make you question your worth and have you up late nights rehearsing what to say and how to say it. Those are the things that make you curl up in a ball and cry silently because too often you do not feel worthy. My moments like these would be followed by a call to Mama and in her calm firm voice, she would say, “You are more than enough, you are God’s masterpiece” That was her way of saying, “Stop the pity party and get up and walk in your greatness.”