Last week, my parents walked out of the doors of their workplaces for the last time.

My Mom… a  Church secretary of 26 years and my Dad a banker for over four decades… they decided that when it was time, they were going to head into this new season of life as they have done everything since 10th grade …

TOGETHER.

I’m so excited for them. I know they look to their blank-canvas future with a combination of excitement for all of the possibilities, and a little bit of pause that comes any time this kind of life change comes along. But knowing they have each other along the way makes me know that a lot of joy and new experiences are ahead of them.

I’ve been thinking a lot about them and the “work” part of their lives over these last couple of weeks. It’s no doubt that my parents have both had an influence on me as a person and as a parent, but as a working mom, both of their influences have definitely creeped in to the way in which I present myself in my career.  And these three things stand out.

KINDNESS LEADS
As a kid, I always overheard people talking about my dad as a “friendly” banker.   And every time I was in the office with my Mom, I’d watch her interact with every single person who entered the room or called her phone with a level of kindness that came from the depths of her authentically caring spirit.  That was something I felt very proud of as a kid… to know that my parents were known for being “good” people. In my own business, I have a standard with which I operate that I call “Human being first, business owner second.”  It’s about remembering to always treat people the way I want to be treated… a value I learned by watching my parents for so many years.

FAMILY FIRST
While working hard and remaining loyal to your work were always important to my parents, decisions were always made with the family in mind.  Sporting events were never missed. Phone calls from us were never “not” taken from us.  Career decisions were made based on how it would affect our family.  I always knew (and still do) that I was in the forefront of my parents’ mind.  And I fight every day to make sure my kids know this too.

YOUR JOB DOESN’T DEFINE YOU, YOU DEFINE YOU.
I just came to this realization in recent years going through my own career journey…. that while my parents have been phenomenal at what they do in their career, it has never been their identity.  So often we all put so much value on defining ourselves by the job title we hold or the money we make… that we put our life’s energy into focusing too much on THAT, and not the other parts of ourselves and our lives. And while my parents’ jobs were certainly a PART of who they are… it wasn’t everything.  I know in recent days a lot of people are sharing their experiences in working alongside them… but I’m certain that many people love my parents more for who they are simply as human beings.  Good PEOPLE… who care deeply for each other, their family and their friends.

In thinking about these things over this last week, I’ve realized how much of my parents I unknowingly have taken with me into my own career.  And because of that, I think about what my kids will learn from me when they eventually head into whatever path they will take for themselves.

And I can only hope that I make the positive impact on them that my parents did on me.

But then again… maybe I don’t have to hope. Maybe I simply need to “do.”

To simply LIVE these lessons that have been put in front of me all of my life … so my kids will take the torch and continue to that legacy too.

A legacy that I know was passed down to you, too, Mom and Dad… by four people who exuded this same sentiment of remembering that the people around you (and how you treat them) are what make a life. And you’ve made them proud.

And now it’s time to roll down the windows and feel that fresh, new air of this season of life on your face.  And reach over and hold the hand of the person beside you… and remind yourself what you’ve known since 10th grade… that you couldn’t ask for a better partner to be alongside you on this journey of life.

And we’re lucky to have you along as part of ours, too.

Written by Brea Schmidt

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