My mom (my original life coach) is, to state it plainly, badass. She taught me what it is to be a strong, loving woman in this world. Even though I’m a “grown-up”, I freely admit that when the chips are down, I call Mom. Here’s a story about one of those times.
I was working for a startup on a shoestring budget and my job was to spend this treasured budget to acquire new customers. I came to dread the Tuesday marketing meetings where I would be relentlessly questioned by the CEO about the latest numbers, strategies and tactics. I would stammer answers and feel incredibly defensive and victimized by his “attacks.” I wanted to quit, but since I didn’t have another job to go to, I felt stuck.
I called Mom. I told her my tale of woe and mistreatment over lunch. I noticed she was looking at me like, “who are you?” She was frankly a little mystified that her strong, talented and extremely capable daughter was allowing herself to feel attacked by anyone. It was then that she looked me right in the eye and from a place of complete love and belief in me, delivered a message from the core of her being right into mine:
Remember who you ARE.
Whoa. I felt like I snapped back into myself. My response was, “Oh YEAH.” I immediately calmed down and was able to see the situation from a completely different perspective.
I hadn’t been speaking up because I was afraid of getting in trouble or getting fired. I realized that by not speaking, I was creating a worse-feeling situation than getting fired. I had nothing to lose by not speaking up and that I certainly was not going to allow someone to bully me in a meeting. I also realized the CEO was stressed because he was on the hook for the company’s success and I just happened to be in charge of one of the major outgoing expenses. His intensity on the topic was a reflection of his level of stress; it had nothing to do with me.
Tuesday rolled around and I was much calmer. The intensity ramped up as the CEO leaned toward me and asked the usual questions. Then, I did something different. I leaned toward him and appropriately but strongly reminded him of the importance of keeping a civil tone in meetings. (The body language of the other meeting attendees would’ve been hilarious if the situation wasn’t so charged—they all looked like they wanted to bail out through a trapdoor in the floor.) An amazing thing happened—he immediately sat back and calmed down. It seemed as if he too had forgotten who he was. Later we met privately and were able to have a very open conversation about how to better communicate.
I still left that job—this was the beginning of my own career transition—but I was able to leave on very amicable terms with the CEO and more importantly, with my self esteem intact.
On this Mother’s Day, I would like to say thanks Mom for making sure that I remember who I am and for providing a loving reminder when I seem to forget.