In a recent interview with one of our skilled technicians, Shane, I asked who inspired him to start his work in the trades. He went on to tell me how he owes it all to his mother. I just smiled and thought about how my mom was the biggest influence on my career path too. I’m certain Shane and I aren’t the only ones in that boat!
My mom worked as a middle school teacher for over 40 years. She touches tools as infrequently as possible. Most folks who know her would agree that her mechanical aptitude can be described as “limited at best.” It’s safe to say I learned most of my technical skills from somebody else. Despite this, every skill I have that has made me stand out from others over the years WAS learned from her. And there’s nothing technical about them.
Career Lessons from Mom
Your technical skills get you hired but your soft skills are what keep you hired and allow you to advance. I’ve said that to every class at every tech school I’ve ever visited. I learned the truth of that lesson myself over decades working with people possessing far more “craft” than I do. However, I learned the skills themselves from a life spent as my mother’s child. I had no idea they would all be relevant to life in the trades as well.
Work Ethic – My mom never missed a day of work unless she was physically unable to work. She’s never paid another person to do a job she could do herself. She does extra so others can do less. And she never complains about it. Unsurprisingly, she’s consistently viewed as an indispensable team member.
Organization – No matter how many events, projects, parties, or tasks my mom must juggle she never drops the ball. Calendars on the fridge, post-its in her purse, and notes in her phone all help my mom keep her work (and life) properly prioritized and on-schedule. Her rigorous planning means she rarely wastes time or effort and is universally assumed to be always on-point.
Punctuality – Being late doesn’t make you a bad person but it can make for some bad problems – especially when it comes to your employment. Being early never cost anybody anything except a few extra minutes. Show up everywhere early with something to fill your time and you’ll always be there when it matters. Do it enough and people will notice. My mother’s adherence to this principle didn’t just result in a good reputation. Punctuality means she is never the one seeking out critical information that was missed, but frequently is the one dispensing it.
Communication – Sharing blood doesn’t mean that you share a communication style. That’s certainly true in my family. But whether my mom “speaks my language” or not, she still needs me to receive her information and provide mine to her in a manner we both can absorb. This means she’s constantly trying out new phrasing, imagery, and tools. She even got a Snapchat account to continue that effort with her next generation of communication failures (her grandkids). This commitment to communication has allowed her to understand (and be understood by) many generations of different ages, races, creeds, genders, etc. It has also kept her professionally relevant well into her fifth decade in the workforce.
Professional Pride – Whatever you do, do it to the best of your ability and then stand by it. This is true regardless of whether the final result ends up being good or bad. If you try your hardest and own your work, you will benefit by either an increase in esteem (external factor) or knowledge (internal factor). Both will always benefit your career. Knowing this has allowed my mom to change with the times to continue to provide the same quality of education to students today as she first did so many years ago, throughout very different eras.
This Mother’s Day I hope you all take the time to think about what your own mom has done to help form the person and professional you’ve become. Then tell her why and make sure to say “thank you”. She deserves it. If those of you who are mothers would like to further influence your child by getting them to think about a career in the trades, that’s a great idea! I can’t think of a better way to celebrate this holiday (and the trades) than by having a conversation with mom.