Life Lessons Learned from my Mother

Key Takeaways:

  • Develop tactics to overcome significant challenges.
  • Learn to deal with the unexpected.

What thoughts are conjured up when you look at the above photo? This snapshot is of my mother and my sister, and it was taken in 1955.

My mom was at one of the happiest moments of her life.  She had been married for just over a year. She and my father had just moved into their first house in a new development, and she had given birth to a beautiful baby girl. She had everything she had ever dreamed of.  If you look closely, you can see my father’s shadow as he is taking the picture. They were on top of the world.

Now a reality a check.

Less than four months after this lovely picture was taken, my mom’s beautiful little baby girl died of leukemia. My mother was absolutely shattered, as any mother would be.  But being the strong person she was, even from tragedy she gleaned lessons that we can all apply to business and to life.

Here is what my mother taught all of us from that experience.

No one is promised tomorrow. While it may seem like we have an eternity in front of us, no one can count on tomorrow. The key to having a life worth living is to live only in the present. Be fully attentive to the business and the person at hand. As the Buddha suggests, “If you are not living in the present, you are missing your own life!” Don’t let an opportunity of a lifetime slip by simply because your mind was somewhere else and you missed it.

Life (and business) is not fair, and anyone who expects it to be will be sorely disappointed.  There is often no rhyme or reason as to why some people have to experience some really horrendous situations at no fault of their own. There are a number of different ways to deal with such circumstances when they arise. Some people convince themselves that everything happens for a reason. Some people look for the great lesson to be learned from it. Others simply put their head down and continue to plow ahead and work their way through it until it is resolved. The key is it doesn’t really matter which approach you take, but you must deal with it in the very best manner possible.

Get in the game. The best way to win at the game of life is to play it! While there is much to be said for studying, learning and preparing ourselves for what may come, the best teacher is life itself. If you want to be a writer, WRITE! If you want to be a great salesperson, get out there and SELL! Whatever it is that is important to you and whatever that one thing is that you really want to be good at, the best and surest path to success is to do it. Do it today, do it tomorrow and do it with all you heart.  Don’t simply watch the game, don’t read about it but get in the game and play it! Actions speak louder than words and they deliver far greater results.

Seize the moment. Trust your first instinct and actually follow it. Many times, when an opportunity presents itself, your first reaction is to move forward and act.  If you’re like most people however, you will often hold yourself in check, or think maybe you should wait or say to yourself that maybe now is not the right time. As a general rule, instinct is the far better judge than reason.  Act when your heart tells you to do so.

All of life is temporary. Learn to understand that nothing lasts forever. All we really have in life is each other and even that is only temporary. Spend your life on those goals that are important to you, spend your time with people that mean the most to you and give the very best to the world that you have to offer.

My mother lived to be 86 years old; she always had a huge Irish smile on her face and truly cared about people she did business with. She actively sold real estate until her 80th birthday. She would be so happy to know her life lessons continue to help people achieve their goals.

Now, as my mom would say, “Don’t just sit there; go do something special!” 

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May 20, 2021 at 9:53 am
Dan Link

Thank you for sharing Gary. Very valuable insight that honors your mother's legacy.

May 21, 2021 at 6:47 pm
Gary Wakeford

You are very welcome, and thank you for taking the time to leave such a kind note. Very much appreciated.

May 29, 2021 at 9:11 pm
Ellen Wakeford Banks

Wonderful Gary- and most definitely my dear Aunt Maxine inspired! Valuable lessons and so true. Great article! Love you !

June 1, 2021 at 7:54 am
Marc Brooks

Thanks for sharing Gary, I’m sure you’re Mom is smiling that huge Irish smile.

June 8, 2021 at 11:42 pm
Elizabeth Goldstein

Thank you Gary for sharing, a loss of a child is difficult, your mom must have been one amazing women, working until her 80's. What a legacy she left for her children/grandchildren. Wonderful unforgettable memories. Thank you for always being a humble and kind person with a heart of gold.

July 12, 2021 at 4:38 pm
Gary Wakeford

You are very welcome and thank you for the kind words. Truly appreciated.

All the best,


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