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Three Life Lessons Learned From My Mother

My mother, who passed away in 1994, was no June Cleaver (the TV mother of Beaver Cleaver in the series Leave It to Beaver). Far from it. My mother had very little maternal instinct, and she was quite scary to my friends as she barely tolerated kids in general. Her motto was “Kids should be seen, not heard.” In reality, she was harmless, but my friends didn’t know that. I learned a great deal from my mother. Here I’ll point out just three of her many lessons.

  • When Confronted by a Bully, Don’t Back Down

While in grade school, a kid who was a couple of years older than me began bullying me. I told Mom about it, and she told me to fight back. “Don’t take his crap” (her words, not mine). So the next time I went toe to toe with the bully, I fought back. He then left me alone and started picking on someone else.

         This lesson has served me well over the years. I have had several bosses and clients who have been bullies. They purposely tried to intimidate not only me but everyone around them. I have learned the best way to approach them is not to back down. I tell them what they need to hear, even if I know they won’t like it. What I’ve found is, whether or not they follow my counsel, they at least grudgingly respect me. The problem with this approach in business is that you don’t advance up the corporate ladder this way. There’s a reason I’m self-employed — and I’m perfectly fine with it.

  • Life Is Not Fair, so Get over It

“Quit your bellyaching” was a favorite saying of my mother. She was not a nurturer. She was in short supply of sympathy and empathy. Having come through the Great Depression, Mom had firsthand experience with real deprivation, so she easily dismissed the trivial things I whined about.

         I remember early on how much more stoic I was than my friends when something went wrong. They would be blubbering, feeling sorry for themselves, and I would be rolling my eyes thinking, Suck it up.

         In reality, life is not fair. We all know that, but the sooner we come to that realization the sooner we learn to be thankful for those many blessings we do have. The alternative is to become bitter at every slight, real or imagined, that happens to us throughout the day.

  • Diplomacy Is for Sissies

My mom was an excellent judge of character. And although she was often too critical of the faults of others, she really was right on her assessment of the situation or the person. She did not “suffer fools gladly.” She had no problem telling people what she was thinking and with little consideration for their feelings. Unfortunately, I’m not much better in this regard.  I too am known for being brutally honest with people. I really don’t know any other way to be. It would be so much easier if I had the ability to tell those little white lies that smooth over difficult situations, but that’s not who I am. How many times in a week do I get a telephone call from a prospect who needs to hear that his property, as it stands now, is not financeable? He has called more people than he can count, but none have told him the truth. Instead, to get him off the phone quickly, they refer him to another lender or commercial mortgage broker, and he eventually ends up calling me, only to hear the honest truth no else was willing to say. Mom was flawed in many ways (aren’t we all), but in hindsight I am so grateful that she toughened me up to take on life’s challenges head on. And if she were alive today, I would sincerely thank her for that.

         Although my mom was at times a difficult person to be around, it was obvious she loved her family. She just showed it differently. I learned many important life lessons from her, and for good or ill, she has influenced me much more than my kindhearted, well-liked father.

The preceding is adapted from Mastering the Art of Commercial Real Estate Investing: How to Successfully Build Wealth & Grow Passive Income from Your Rental Properties by Doug Marshall, CCIM ©2019 by Doug Marshall, CCIM. and published with permission from the author.

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