With Mother’s Day coming, I can’t help but think of the first leader in my life: Mom. She’s passed now, but I still think of her often, appreciating her more as I move through life. Every year on Mother’s Day, I reflect on some of the lessons she taught me. In many ways, what I learned from my mother has been more important than anything I learned at Stanford or in the ensuing years. Without her instilling in me her passion for learning there would not have even been a Stanford for me. I can clearly identify so many of my choices, direction taken in both career and personally, and my leadership philosophy all to the influence she had in my life.
As a parent, she wanted what parents commonly want for their child: happiness.
That’s a precious gift to give to a person. Knowing how to find happiness and how to keep it is simply priceless. There are many paths to happiness, as happiness is different for every person. But there are some guiding questions that I learned from my mother for which I shall thank her on this Mother’s Day. Here they are as she would tell them to me:
Is what you’re doing meaningful? The direction of one’s career must be satisfying and fulfilling. If you are not spending your days (and many nights) doing something that makes a positive difference in other’s lives you’re putting too much strain on your better self and when you look back, you will have regrets. No amount of money earned can equal the feeling of doing good work that you take pride in and is meaningful to you.
Are you taking care of the people who rely on you? Always strive to be the person I know you can be, especially when you find it most difficult. Treat the people who rely on you with goodness and respect, and do everything you can to make their lives better simply because they know you. It’s your duty, your responsibility, and your privilege to be that person.
What’s your legacy, Mark? Throughout your life I have always asked you that. Always be conscious of the impressions left behind. That goes for people and things…and it has nothing to do with bank accounts.
So what about you? The right job, the right path, happiness is out there. All you need to do is define it. Your life is every day. Your journey is every day. It is never too late to define what is right for you and to be the person you were always meant to be. Who that is…that’s up to you. These questions from my mother will go a long way in helping you toward a path filled with meaning and happiness. They have been for me.
Let me know if you’d like my help answering some questions!
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