A few months ago I started dedicating my Saturday blog post to the Hustler’s Playbook, my ideas about the beliefs, attributes, and actions that lead to success. A lot of it is mindset.
Recently a friend told me he looks forward to the Hustler’s Playbook posts on Saturday, and I revealed to him that I that I began writing them as ideas I wanted to give to my children. After I’d written a bit, I decided to publish them on the blog and then collect them into a Kindle book.
That got me thinking about what I learned from my Mother, the source of much of what I believe. She raised four children by herself, and her mother raised five children alone, making some of the ideas that follow at least a few generations old. I sent my Mom a text message with these ideas, and she was happy with me sharing them here. Here’s a list of things I wasn’t allowed to do.
Things I was never allowed to do:
- Believe I could not do something: I was never allowed to believe that I couldn’t do something. I have no better evidence of this than her unyielding support when I was kid and started a rock band. I think she even let me borrow her eyeliner. When I decided to pursue it more seriously, she even supported my move across the country to form a band and play in Los Angeles. I have dozens of other examples. I was never allowed to believe anything was beyond my reach if I put forth the effort.
- Feel sorry for myself. Countless times I tried to feel sorry for myself. I wanted pity. If I heard this sentence once, I heard it forty-three million times: “Suck it up. Be a man. I’m more of an man then you.” At the time my Mother said this it was certainly true. Rather than being allowed to wallow in my self-pity, she made me get up and take action. I learned that I had the power to do something, to act, instead of feeling bad. The lesson stuck . . . not that I had a choice.
- Treat other people poorly: I was never allowed to leave someone out, to treat them poorly, to make fun of them, or belittle them in any way. Instead, I was taught that I was to treat people exactly as I would want to be treated were I in their shoes. The idea of emotional intelligence hadn’t yet been invented, but I watched my Mom model it in her life every day. When I crossed the line, I was strongly reprimanded. I can’t even begin to quantify how helpful this rule has been.
- No one goes hungry while we can feed them. I grew up in an apartment complex. I hung around people who didn’t have much. Many of my friends that didn’t have much to eat or a place to stay ended up sleeping on a couch in my basement. They ended up eating in my kitchen. Even though she didn’t make enough money to support the five of us, she still found a way to feed other people. She watched her mom (who had even less) do the same thing.
- Back down from a bully. Lest I give you the impression that my sweet Mother was somehow soft, let me dissuade you of that belief now. I was never, ever allowed to back down from a bully. I heard, “You hit them. And you keep hitting them until they give up and until they never mess with you again.” I got in more than my fair share of tangles with more than my fair share of bullies. Even though I was terrible at fighting, her advice worked every time; the bullies found easier targets instead of having to deal with someone who was relentlessly trying to fight back. I don’t think she was in a position to raise weak children.
- Hold anger or resentment towards people who harmed me. I have no idea how she did it, but she prevented me from ever harboring any anger or resentment at my Dad. She never let me hold anger at anyone. Still to this day, no matter the offense, I am still free of the burden of resentment.
- Feel unwanted or unloved. I was always happy as a kid (and still am now). I didn’t know I grew up poor until I was in my early thirties. I think the key to my happiness was that I was never allowed to feel unwanted or unloved. Even when we didn’t have any money, and even when the five of us lived in a tiny, three-bedroom apartment with one small bathroom, I never felt poor. We had love, and that was enough.
What values did your parents (or parent) instill in you?
What were you never allowed to do?
How have those beliefs shaped you?