John Addison: Call Your Mother!
Today I’m going to take a break from sharing insights about leadership and getting ahead in your professional life. Instead, I’m going to impart a simple message for your personal life: Call your mother.
In the last year, I’ve had a lot of changes in my professional life. I retired as co-CEO of a financial services company, took on roles as a public speaker and leadership editor at SUCCESS magazine, and I published my first book. These have been such monumental times in my life—times I know would’ve made my mother proud—and as I celebrate each one, I find myself wishing she was here to celebrate with me.
My mom and I were incredibly close. Even as my career took off and I earned more responsibility, I still made sure to talk to her every day. Sometimes, she’d call to tell me something that was going on with the family or in our small hometown. Sometimes, it was just to tell me something funny. She had a great sense of humor. She had this amazing knack for making everyone who came in contact with her walk away feeling just a little bit better.
A few weeks ago, when I was back home in Covington, I took a copy of my book and went out to my mother’s grave. I visited with her a little bit, and told her what I’d written and how I’d give just about anything for her to be able to read it. I know she’d be proud of what I’ve accomplished and that gives me comfort. But I still miss her.
Remember Pandora’s ad campaign from last year? They blindfolded several children between the ages of 3 and 9 to see if they could pick their mom from a group of women, using only their sense of touch and smell. The ad, in addition to being a hint to significant others to buy the “unique” woman in their life a Pandora bracelet, was an experiment to test the bond of a child with his or her mother. Time and again, the kids, no matter how little, were able to pick their mother from the group. It was a little bit of a tearjerker, and it did prove that a bond between a mother and her child is stronger than just about any other bond in the world. And that’s not a bond that ever goes away.
I’m always amazed by the things people can remember about their mothers, even after they are long gone. The way their hands felt, the way their perfume smelled, or the sound of their laughter. I know a lady whose mother wore Estée Lauder Youth Dew perfume. Even though her mother has been gone for almost two decades, she says anytime she gets a whiff of that perfume, she still looks around, expecting her to be standing there, wearing one of her homemade dresses and the bright red lipstick she wore until the day she died. Like me, she’d give just about anything for her mother to really be there when she turned around, to smell her perfume, or feel her soft skin and to have more time with her.
If losing my mom has taught me anything, it’s to cherish the moments you have with your mom while she’s still around. We don’t like to think about losing our mothers, but life is fleeting. She’s not always going to be there, and anytime you screen a phone call or don’t take an opportunity to visit with her is a moment you will never get back. Once she’s gone, you’re going to regret all of those missed moments. Because no matter how old we get and how independent we think we are, we always need our mothers. That bond is just too strong.
As I sit here missing my own mother with every fiber of my being, my biggest advice to you is this: If you are fortunate enough to still have your mom, pick up your phone and dial her number right now. Don’t text her or send her an email. Take a few minutes out of your day to have a real conversation with her—where you hear her voice. Tell her you love her. Tell her something funny or interesting about your day. Ask her about hers. Thank her for being your mom and for everything she’s done for you to make you the person you are today. And then make it a habit.
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No. 4: Do it early and get it out of the way.