My mom entered the workforce in 1972. She was a newly single mom with two grade-school children and a mortgage to pay. She was probably scared to death about how she was going to make ends meet. I was too young at the time to pay attention to what she was doing, much less how she was feeling, but I remember thinking it was pretty cool that my mom had a job. I was going to do that too someday!
As a young girl, I loved visiting the shop where she worked as a bookkeeper and playing with all the staplers, hole punches and erasers strewn around the office. I thought it was so cool that she had her own set of keys and that the owner trusted her to come to the office even when it was closed.
At some point, I came to realize that my mom was constantly worrying about money and she was a lot more tired at the end of the day than I remembered her being the year before. But the two things my mom never lost were her sense of humor and her belief that people were doing the best they could and everyone had something to offer. I’m sure these were just part of her nature, but I suspect that her sudden life shift to being a single, working mom gave her an added sense of understanding and compassion for people, and a deep need to see the comedy of life.
My mom did well for herself and found bigger opportunities that gave her a nice, long career. But what stands out to me is the decency she’s always shown others, even to those who did not have her best interests at heart and tried to block her from advancement. She doesn’t believe in matching a person’s bad behavior or retaliating because that would mean she’d become precisely what she thinks is wrong. That’s not to say my mom’s a pushover, on the contrary, she can fight! But she’s never mean-spirited and she’s never intentionally hurtful.
As I navigated my own career and found opportunities to advance, I encountered many people who helped me, and others who stood like giant boulders in my lane. I learned a lot from both about who I wanted to be and didn’t want to be, but the biggest thing I saw was that at the core, people are just people, doing the best they can with what they know and have learned. They have backgrounds and stories, and many people might do things a lot differently if they could go back and do it again.
It’s because of this that I became a career coach. I like knowing people’s stories, learning who they really are, and helping them create their ideal career path. I’m certain that if we all listened to ourselves more closely and honestly, we’d feel much more comfortable pursuing what we truly want to do and being who we truly want to be. We all have so much to offer and contribute in big and small ways, even when we don’t know how to do it.
So, thanks, Mom, for showing me there’s nothing wrong, and everything right, with listening and being kind to others, helping people when they need it, and showing them that we’re all doing the best we can.
Julia is a Career Strategist and Gallop-Certified Strengths Coach based in the Bay Area. She helps career-focused professionals showcase their unique abilities and talents in order to amplify their presence in their chosen fields and when re-entering the job market. Julia uses her extensive leadership experience in executive management, business development, team building and recruiting to help her clients have the career they always wanted. Learn more about Julia at www.JuliaHolian.com, www.LinkedIn.com/in/JuliaHolian, https://Twitter.com/JuliaHolian (@JuliaHolian) and www.Facebook.com/JuliaHolian.