One of the things I always struggled with as a working mom was whether or not I was doing the right thing for my kids by not being at home all day, every day. Being one of four kids, my mom had her hands full, and was a stay-at-home mom. (I grew up in the late 60s, early 70s, so this was pretty common at the time.) She stayed busy not only putting food on the table, clean clothes on our backs and keeping a spotless house for us to come home to, but getting us to and from dance lessons, football practices, cheerleading practices, swimming and diving practice, piano lessons, and the like. Then she made sure she and my dad attended and/or chaperoned every single game, meet, recital and performance for all four of us. I watched her do all these things, in what appeared to me, effortlessly.
When I first got out of college and started my first professional job, I did a pretty good job balancing a career, husband and making sure the bills were paid, food was on the table, clothes were washed and the house was clean. Several years later, adding a child to the picture made it necessary to tweak my schedule and change a few things here and there to still get it all done. My mom had set the bar pretty high to begin with, and adding a full-time job into the mix made for a challenge I was determined to conquer. I managed to pull it off, but it was exhausting. I always felt like rather than letting anything slide, I had to keep up the same standard I had been raised to expect and had maintained up until then. The biggest problem was that I could not seem to shake the guilt I think a lot working moms suffer from: Should I make some major adjustments and stay at home, or is it ok to work outside the home?
As my kids are older now, (two of them are in college, and one is in middle school), I have finally decided I made the right decision. I am proud of my family and the lessons we have learned from watching each other. I taught my kids a heck of a lot along the way, and I did it as a working mom. All three of my kids can cook, clean, do the laundry, mow the yard, socialize with adults and children alike, have manners and respect for others, and know right from wrong. In addition to juggling schedules and multi-tasking, my kids unknowingly taught me not to doubt myself and that that they really do pay attention!
I love sitting back, watching and listening to my kids. I love it when they repeat something I have taught them when I thought they weren’t paying attention. I love it when the girls call us from college to report great news about their grades or classes. I love it when my son asks me about a particular Bible verse that he can quote, but can’t remember exactly where to find it. I love that the girls call me to get recipes for a favorite meal because now that they have their own apartments, they want to make it for someone themselves. I love it when my son plays baseball and when he makes an amazing play, he acts the same as when he doesn’t. (Even though Mom and Dad are in the stands acting like obnoxious fools, screaming and yelling on the great plays, “Yep! That’s our boy!” He acts like he’s done it before. Yep, he keeps it classy even if good ole Mom and Dad don’t! Now come on---You know you do it, too!) On the not-so-great plays, he just smiles and goes back to the dugout until the next time. And I especially love that he draws a cross in the dirt every time he is up to bat, recognizing how he got there in the first place.
So what the heck does this have to do with real estate?
Well, a LOT of what I do in my real estate career, I learned by raising my kids, running a family household and working a full-time job at the same time. And a lot of what I learned in the business world I do at home and with my family. Balancing a family and all that goes along with it is similar to running your own business: There is a lot of responsibility, endless hours of work but the reward is completely worth it when you feel the unbelievable sense of accomplishment when you can sit back and see everything come together better than you ever imagined. But the most important thing I have learned is something that I tell my kids all the time: You never know who is going to be watching you.
A couple weeks ago, we were listening to the sermon in church. Our newly appointed pastor was asking each and every one of us to go out and set a good example, emphasizing that people see who you are by HOW you are. Then he said MY magic words: “You never know who is going to be watching you.”
Ah, cool! Confirmation that someone else, especially someone of high leadership and standard, says the same thing I do! If I have said it once, I have said it a thousand times: You just never know when someone is going to be watching you.
In baseball? You practice like you intend to play, and during games you play like the best recruiter in the country is attending your game. You always strive to perform better than even YOU think you can! In business? You are ALWAYS at your best because you never know when someone that can really make a difference to you is paying attention and is either going to be impressed with you or not, and take your business to a new level. In school? Just because it may seem like just another assignment doesn’t mean it won’t be the winning essay that gets you chosen to go on a three week trip to France! (This, along with playing like a pro in all your volleyball practices where the right person was obviously watching, can make a difference!)
I had a very dear client that passed away last Christmas. He was 94 years old. He was someone who was watching when I didn’t know it. I unexpectedly gained a mentor and friend as a result of him watching and paying attention to how I handled my business. I met him at an Open House several years ago. He ran into my broker one day and said, “You know that agent you have in your office, Janie Pugh? I want her to list all my properties for me when I die.” A bit blunt, but he was always very straightforward. I met with him later that week, and I became the Karate Kid: I would meet with him often, and in our conversations, realized I was learning from the best, absorbed every word, and put it into practice. He had amazing work ethic and work/life experiences that were almost unbelievable. During our first conversation, he told me he wanted to meet with me because after the Open House he attended where we met, he was impressed with my follow up and how I handled my business.
Consequently, I ended up selling him 2 houses and listing and selling 3 three he already owned. I completed a total of five transactions from one person in a period of 6 years. What I didn’t realize until much later was that had I not made a good first impression, I would have missed out on spending time with one of America’s greatest World War II Army veterans who consequently helped me develop and polish my business skills and practices.
So I will say it again: You never know who is going to be watching! Just as one shoe changed Cinderella’s life, one impression can change yours!