5 Things I Learned From My Mom About Living an Exceptional Life

An ounce of mother is worth a pound of clergy.
~ Spanish Proverb

It isn’t anywhere near Mother’s Day but that shouldn’t be the only day when we think about our moms. And I’ve been thinking about my mom a lot lately and mothers in general. And to show a debt of gratitude that our moms deserve, I want to share with you these 5 lessons if you will about what my mom has taught me about leading an exceptional life. I hope that these might resonate with you. If nothing else, I hope that they make you smile and head on home to give your moms a hug.

1. Take Your Time

Mom has taught me patience right from the get go. I’m enjoying watching my sister grow as a new mother as my nephew inches towards his first birthday. With a teenaged son, I’m engrossed in the newness of this small being’s development and my sister is helping give me renewed respect and appreciation for moms.

It takes 9 months to nurture, develop and give birth to a human baby. Nine months is a long time. Mom took her time with me then to eat right, stop smoking and drinking so that I would have every opportunity to achieve and exceptional life.

When I put things in perspective, it motivates me to accomplishing more in 9 months or one year. And even though much seems inadequate compared to bringing forth a child, we can all achieve great things if we take our time. If each day we choose one task to accomplish and accomplish it well. If we eat well and take care of ourselves each day for nine months like our moms did, we’d accomplish much. Just one thing completed each day is over 270 items scratched off our to do list.

Just think of the potential if you just take your time. One page a day is a novel written in nine months. One mile run or walked is over 10 marathons completed, more than 1 marathon a month. As Confucius said, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” We’ll be almost through a third of that journey in nine months.

Take your time.

2. Learn to Crawl Before Running Off

Have you noticed how patient mothers are? Mothers are saints really aren’t they? You can build a house in less than 9 months. Pregnancy is an exercise in patience that perhaps prepares moms for the patience required of nurturing souls.

Babies aren’t the most patient beings. They don’t come out skilled in Zen ability. But we can learn these Zen superpowers. If we’re patient. If our mothers show patience to us we can learn to crawl before we run off madly into the world to accomplish magnificence.

I notice how frustrated my nephew can be when he can’t reach things he wants. When he can’t walk over and pick up that curious bright colored object that is so enticing. But it was only a couple of months ago that he couldn’t even crawl. Now he is mastering the crawl and soon will be well on his way to walking and then running.

To learn to paint well we first have to learn to draw. And in order to learn to draw well we have to learn to scribble. And in scribbling we have to learn how to hold the pencil. Anything exceptional that we wish to achieve requires that we first learn to crawl before we run. We first must be the novice before becoming the master. My mom taught me patience. To try and try again in order to achieve mastery of oneself.

Learn to crawl before running off madly.

3. Reach for the Stars but Watch Where You’re Going

There is a quote that has been attributed to Leo Burnett, one of advertising greats that has him saying, “When you reach for the stars you may not quite get one, but you won’t come up with a handful of mud either.” That might not be quite true if you don’t watch where you’re going. You could trip and fall into the mud!

Moms encourage us to reach beyond ourselves and stretch our skills and curiosity more than we might think we can. My mom helped me believe in myself. She nurtured my creativity and humanity and empathy. She encouraged me to reach for the stars but to also watch where I was going.

I think that reaching for the stars is just dreaming. Like a zombie with our arms outstretched towards the heavens and our head tilted back we could end up walking around in circles or walking into lampposts.

To achieve a life filled with excellence you need to watch where you’re going. If you can’t see where you’re going you won’t get there. But if you aren’t reaching for some destination you’ll likely end up anywhere. Thanks mom for showing me how to reach for the stars while still watching where I was going. I’m getting there.

Reach for the stars but watch where you’re going and you’ll find excellence.

4. Holding Hands Helps

When I first started learning how to walk I needed a helping hand. A hand to hold onto and steady myself. Watching my son learn to walk filled me with joy and trepidation. Life can be unsteady for new bipedal naked apes. So I held his hand and it helped him gain confidence.

Just like my mother held my hand as we walked out in the big wide world. We’re small when we’re little and holding hands helps you feel more confident.

Some of us wave goodbye by folding the fingers to the palm and opening them again and again. Are we perhaps trying to hold hands with the person leaving? A last attempt to keep them with us? Or perhaps to send them on their way with the gesture that we’ll hold hands again? I think so.

Holding hands connects us to the circle of life. We recognize our small role in this big world and the impact that we can have connected to one another. We can hold hands as my mother showed me to lift us up from a fall and to swing us higher than we’d ever been before.

Holding hands helps.

5. Kisses Heal Owies

I know this one is the real deal. And all of you who are parents, uncles, aunts, grandparents or even just aware of the small people around you know this one is 100% true. Kisses do heal owies. My sister healed her son’s owie with a kiss just today.

When I was growing up, in kindergarten they’d give us little candies when we hurt ourselves or got knocked over. They helped. But when I skinned knees because I was reaching for stars when not watching where I was going, the only salve that healed those owies were my mother’s kisses. A magical balm.

And the magic is in how well kisses heal the owies of the spirit and of the heart. Mom’s kisses are magic, but even dad’s hugs can help. Indeed, these kisses that I speak of are the hugs and the nods and even just the listening ear of empathy from those around us.

Love is the secret sauce that will keep humanity from annihilating ourselves or our beautiful planet. And there are many owies out there and lots of opportunities for us to put our empathy and love to good use. Isn’t it magical and amazing how even the kind words of a relative stranger or the hug from a friend can turn our world right side up again?

Kisses do heal hurt and pain.

We can all live exceptional lives by following the lessons that moms teach us. Moms, you have power and magical abilities that make Superman weak at the knees. Help us live lives of excellence.