Monday, May 2, 2011

Lessons from Mom...

Lessons From Mom…

Sunday, May 8th is Mother’s Day.  So this one’s for the Moms…especially mine.

I’m proud of my roots having grown up in Grayson, KY, and I’m so very proud of my loving, wonderful, and beautiful mother.  She was an educator for nearly 30 years in her career as a teacher in Kentucky public school system, and she has taught me many life lessons for 31 plus years. 

For the OneMoreStep thought this week, I’ll share a few of my favorite lessons from my Mom.

Make it About Others, Not You

She probably started teaching me this lesson when she was my Kindergarten teacher way back when…she probably continued teaching me this lesson in my pre-teen years in middle school…I’m pretty sure she reiterated this lesson throughout my high school and college years…and I’m pretty sure it went in one ear and out the other.  Now older, wiser, and after experiencing the implications of making it about me…I get it now.  Every single time we take the focus off of “us” and redirect our energy to create value for others…good, positive, and magical things happen for them and for us.  “They” get the benefit of the value we create for them, whatever that may have been, and “we” benefit from knowing that we have just made a difference. 

“Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent” – Eleanor Roosevelt

Mom loves this quote.  Her daddy, my grandfather, Nick DeSantis, reiterated this to my mom as she was growing up…and Mom has instilled this in me and so many other people over the years.  When people talk down to you, belittle you, and make condescending remarks Mom has a great way to address it professionally and tactfully – she says to simply turn to the person calmly (key word – calmly – my red headed temper is sometimes a challenge, but I continue to work on it) and say, “I don’t speak to you that way, and I would appreciate the same respect in return.”  Direct.  Simple.  Professional.  Tactful.  People get the picture, realize they’ve overstepped the line, and even if they never admit it…they know it.  Moreover, they then know that it’s simply not okay to speak to you that way…period. 

If You Can’t Say Something Nice…Don’t Say Anything at All

Simple lesson; difficult to practice.  Like Marshall Goldsmith says in his book, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There…the older we get it becomes less about learning what to do in order to make an impact, and more about what to stop doing in order to make an impact.   

Sometimes the impact and OneMoreStep is to simply keep your comments to yourself, especially if you really have nothing positive or “nice” to say about a particular situation or person.  I’m embarrassed to say that I fall short on this one all…the…time.  It’s certainly an opportunity for me to improve, but a great lesson from Mom nonetheless.  I’m not sure who originally came up with it, but naturally it’s quote from Disney’s full length animated classic, Bambi…when Thumper’s Mom reminds him of this lesson in a “teachable moment”. 

Look at the Big Picture

Cool thing about my Mom and this particular lesson is that she used to teach First, Second, and Third Grade children this concept…she’s taught me to always look at the big picture as well.  We’ll have great days and bad days.  We’ll crush it in some cases, but we’ll fall short in others.  Just because we fail at something doesn’t necessarily mean we’re a failure…Mom says to always look at the big picture.  What did you learn?  How can you improve?  What were the positives that inevitably came out of the situation?  Though a situation may not have turned out the way we might have hoped, does it really matter in the long run…think OneMoreStep beyond the situation at hand…look at the big picture.  I’ve found that when I do this…stop, take a deep breath, and look at the big picture…more often than not, things aren’t so bad after all.

Keep Being You

My favorite one…keep being you.  I’m sensitive.  I admit it.  We all are, even though some have a hard time admitting it.  I’d be willing to say that every single person in the world has experienced heartbreak, disappointment, and/or hurt feelings.  When we work hard, devoting our heart and soul into something or someone and it doesn’t work out quite like we planned, we begin to doubt ourselves.  We doubt our effort, our approach, our affect on someone or something, the impression we may have made, and the impact we “thought” we would make but maybe for whatever reason…we doubt if any impact was made at all.  Great lesson from mom, and my personal favorite – keep being you.  Your own style, personality, knowledge, and beliefs…in conjunction with doing the right thing at all costs, in any situation truly makes an impact.  People may not show it.  They may not admit it.  They may even be so insecure that their jealousy prevents them from being nice to you.  Just be you. 

People make fun of my passion for making magic and they make comments about my love for Disney magic.  Some executives and coworkers talk down to me, and frankly disrespect me.  Sometimes the girls I want to date aren’t interested in dating me.  Sometimes things don’t work out the way I would prefer.  Mom’s advice is always…keep being you.

"The most important opinion is the one you have of yourself, and the most significant things you say all day are those things you say to yourself." - Zig Ziglar

Quick lesson from Mom…for the road

Have you ever sat down at a nice, elegant dinner with multiple plates, glasses, and silverware arranged beautifully on the table…and you have no idea which is your bread plate, your glass, or your dessert plate?  It can be embarrassing  to take the wrong one at an important work function or even worse at a nice dinner with the girlfriend or boyfriend’s parents…

Mom hooked me up with this one when I was younger, and I pass it along to people all the time.  It always gets a laugh. 

With both hands, take your index finger and thumb, and make a circle…fully extend your middle finger, ring finger, and pinky on each hand.  If you look closely, your left hand is now in the shape of a “B”, and your right hand is in the shape of a “D”.  So as you face your plate…on your left is your BREAD plate, and on your right is your DRINK.  Now you’ll never forget which is which…pass it on. 

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.  I love you.  Thank you for the many lessons you’ve taught me. 

Now that I think about it…this entire blog…past, present, and future posts, along with everything I do in life, striving to do the right thing…can all be traced back to LESSONS FROM MOM.

When you think you’ve done enough…go OneMoreStep.



  1. Way to go Mom! I miss my mom! She was right in line with the if you dont have anything nice to say dont say anything at all. And my wife hates it when she says, "what do you think of this?" and I reply with silence. Thanks Mom!

  2. Tay this is such a wonderful tribute to my best friend- your Mom. As long as I have known her- she has always been the one to focus on all that is positive. I've learned so many life lessons from her. She is so proud of you- as am I. Your gift of this tribute -( to the gracious person that she is- her genuine love of people and that incredible way she always makes a person feel so special-) is absolutely priceless. She has touched and blessed more lives- especially children- and you are following in her footsteps.