I owe every accomplishment I have ever achieved to three things my mom instilled in me from a young age. She was relentless, frustrating at times, but looking back I know it was out of a deep love for me and my future well-being.

Always do your best

Most of the time my grades were good. But I never got in trouble for bad grades, unless they were a result of not trying. Every time I brought home a paper with a bad grade, she’d ask me, “Could you have gotten a better grade?” Most of the time, the answer was yes and I knew I had been lazy. If I really had done my best, my mom praised me for the effort I put in, and encouraged me to prepare for next time. As long as I did my best, she was satisfied.

Now, in my professional life, a job isn’t done until I’ve done my best. Even when something appears to be done, I dig in and refine, refine, refine until I can honestly say I’ve done my best work.

Never be satisfied with the status quo

I was a rockstar speller when I was in grade school. I’d look at a word, write it out once or twice, and then it would be in my head forever (or at least until the next spelling test). My mom caught on to my abilities, and wouldn’t let me stop at the lists of 5-letter words my teachers gave me.

To this day, I try to push myself into uncomfortable territory. The only way to better yourself is to step outside your comfort zone, and now I have twenty-some years of practice thanks to my mom.

Be a life-long learner

Our family vacations were primarily about spending time together, but they were always educational. We wouldn’t just stop and look at the sights to see, we would read every sign and soak up all the information we could get. Even our destinations were educational. I learned all about wildlife, caves, the Cold War, and cutting-edge scientific research on our vacations.

Every once in a while, when I feel like I’m just drifting through life, I’ll go learn something new and it gives me just the pick-me-up I need.

Thanks, mom, for always encouraging to do my best, to not be satisfied with the status quo, and to be a life-long learner. Happy mother’s day!