How Being a Mom Made Me a Better Business Woman
Lucas’s volume has risen to ear splitting decibels with each punctuated request for my attention as we are driving through town.
“I love you.”
I sheepishly thank him and reiterate his sentiment. This particular interaction occurs multiple times a day, but this time, it was different. I realized something profound.
My sons were making me a better business woman.
Sounds rather outlandish, right? Usually, the role of motherhood is seen as the death of a career or at least a huge deterrent. I completely disagree. And here's why:
Delayed Gratification--Being a mom is all about delayed gratification. You get three minutes to yourself after the kids are fed, the chores are done, and you’ve broken up a fist fight involving a McDonald’s toy. When you think about it, parents really don’t get a return on their investment until their children are adults. It’s a long wait. It’s a marathon.
But so is owning a business. As a business owner, you are the last to get paid. You put in years of effort before seeing any return on investment. You wait in hope as your baby business grows and grows to adulthood. Being a mom has helped me to see the long term when it comes to my business. I know that success will not come overnight. It has helped me to have realistic expectations and pace myself.
Self-Sacrifice/Servant hood-- You do just about anything for your kids. You let them take your sleep, your money, your time…. Parents serve their children constantly. They model love through service and self-sacrifice.
This principle of servant hood and sacrifice has been so helpful as a business owner. I bend over backwards to serve my clients and staff. Servant hood is a powerful tool for leaders in business as it often leads to trust, respect and loyalty among staff, customers, and the employer. I’ve used this principle throughout my years as a business woman and it has never let me down. It’s not always easy. Not every customer or client is a pleasure to serve, but neither are my kids!
Patient Listening--My four year old is a serious talker. Meaning, he really never stops. I’ve had to learn (let’s face it, I’m still learning) how to patiently listen to his stories, his incessant, random questions and his requests. He is one curious soul.
Business owners and anyone working in customer service uses this principle all the time. Active listening is so important and again, leads to mutual respect, trust and loyalty. I’ve found after 8 years of patient listening to my sons, I’m well practiced and able to listen to customers, staff and colleagues. They have caused my ears and my heart to grow.
Balanced Compromise-- I’ve got two little negotiators in my family. Several times a day, I’m working on agreements and compromises. As a parent, compromise is really important because it is impossible to make it through the day winning every small battle. Plus, when I compromise and try to meet my boys where they are at, they are much more willing to let me win the big battles. Ok, you may have eat Cheetos for breakfast, but after you get some pants on for school. Compromise…..
Compromise is also key in building relationships with staff and customers and other businesses. You may have a particular idea in mind regarding a project or a certain expectation regarding performance by a team member, but compromise in certain areas may help bring a better sense of unity and cooperation when you can’t budge on other things.
Appreciation for the Mundane--It starts with the hourly changing of diapers and feedings. Then it turns into potty training, nightly bath and reading rituals. Then it’s homework and runs to soccer practice or band. These seemingly mundane tasks are the day to day life of the parent. They may seem small and unimportant, but each act builds and builds to construct a relationship and bond that is anything but mundane. These daily tasks as a parent have helped me to appreciate the boring tasks of business….bookkeeping, board gessoing, studio cleaning, tax prep, application submissions, etc. These are all part of the daily grind and since I know that small things have helped me build an amazing relationship with both of my boys, I tackle those dull tasks that I would rather dismiss because I know I'm building something great as a business owner.
Is being a mom and a business owner hard work? Absolutely. It's the hardest thing I've ever done and will probably ever do, but I can say with confidence and conviction that adding the title of "mom" to my list of roles has enriched my business life and has taught me things I would never have learned otherwise.
What do you think? If you are a parent, how has your role helped you in your business?