What do I remember about my mother and her influence on my life?

You may remember that she had a huge influence on what extracurricular activities I pursued when I was a child. She wanted me to be athletic, and put me in ice skating and dance. I was finally able to convince her that swimming was my sport and that I excelled in it.

She was a very strong willed woman. If she would have lived in a time when strong women were in leadership positions she would have been a CEO of a company.  As it was she always worked for the top man of the company or division as an executive secretary and office manager before those titles meant anything as they do today.  She ran those offices with an iron hand and a velvet glove.

Thinking back on it she was an amazing woman.  Imagine this, you sit in an office and take dictation.  This was done via the Gregg method.  Very few people today even know what that is, much less use it.  My husband uses Dragon to dictate his legal pleadings and correspondence. She would then transcribe it with 4 copies.  Again, there were no copy machines except maybe a mimeograph machine (what they used to use in schools to make copies for tests in classrooms).  She would use carbon paper to make carbon copies.  Remember, if a mistake was made, it had to be corrected, not once but 5 times.  Correspondence could be relatively short, but she worked at a research facility which turned out research studies of 20 pages or more.  These would include charts and graphs to be made without software.

Let’s think about edits and spell check.  If the researcher decided to change even one word, it usually meant retyping some if not all of the paper.  That is 20 pages to redo.  This I can imagine doing with a smile on my face.

Yet she was a top secretary.  She was so good that she often was finished with her work and took on the work of other secretaries in the office.  Even that did not always keep her busy.  She was given other responsibilities that would never have been assigned to a secretary because of her competence.  She was loved and respected by her peers and bosses alike.

For me, she represented a woman who could have it all.  Mom had a family, small but mighty as I was an only child.  She was an accomplished crafter with perfection in her blood that did not stop her from completing my entire sweater wardrobe in high school.  She had the most beautiful garden that she tended every weekend.  Plus, as you can see, she had a full time job.

She took leadership roles in the community as well.  She was my Brownie and Girl Scout leader which took our troop all the way into high school.  She always had just the right project to work on the perfect badge for each girl.  Then, too, she was the chair of the altar guild in our church.  When I was in 8th grade, we had an altar in our room as we were studying for confirmation.  Each week we dressed the altar as the one in the church was dressed and discussed what the colors meant.  During the week between Palm Sunday and Easter, I remember changing the altar almost every day and several times on Good Friday.  She was bold and daring, something not expected in the Ozzie and Harriet generation.

She also had to deal with the conflict within the family between my dad, myself and my grandmother.  She was definitely caught in the middle.  So, I did not really get to know her intimately until very late in her life and for me after college and after I no longer lived at home.

What I experienced of her and what I saw influenced the type of the career I went into, the successes that I have had, and the leadership that I now utilize with my tribe.  I reflect on the example my mother set me and that is how I lead others.  Because of her, I seize any and all opportunities to lead because I am passionate about leading women to realize their ability to dream and have what inspires them.

There are influential, strong individuals in each of our lives who have given us the experiences that shape us into what we have become.  As a leader, I take you through experiences that will define for you a future that you have only dreamed about.  If you haven’t defined that dream, then take my ultimate dare to dream and let’s get started!

Tell me about that most influential person in your life.  How did that person make you who you are today?