Authentic always – a leadership lesson from an unlikely source.

Today is Mothers Day and sadly, the 5th Mothers Day my Dad and my four siblings have spent without the physical presence of our beloved mum, who succumbed to pancreatic cancer in September 2012.

So why am I motivated to write a LinkedIn blog on Mother’s Day? Because it was in the final days spent with my Mum that she (I’m sure unknowingly) passed on a significant life lesson – words I carry with me every day and that serve me well in all my professional and personal relationships and endeavours.

Our mum Marina had no formal education beyond year 9 and no professional career. She finished school at 15 and worked on her parents’ farm until she married my dad and became a farmer’s wife, and then mother to five children.

As we anticipated and prepared for Mum’s passing, and the occasion of her funeral, we had the opportunity to reflect on Mum’s many talents and strengths – she was an amazing baker (pavlovas and cream puffs her specialty), a talented gardener of both vegetable and floral varieties, she could turn her hand to floristry, she could sew (often matching outfits for my sister and I) and she was a loving and supportive mother and Nan to all of her 5 children and 12 grandchildren. Mum was secretary of the local chapter of the Red Cross, president of the ladies guild at her church and ran the canteen at the local Football Club for many years. She single-handedly catered for all of our 21st birthday parties and ALWAYS wrote the perfect words of congratulations or comfort on a card for someone who needed it. We soon realised, there wasn’t much our Mum couldn’t do.

During her last few days with us, I had the opportunity to tell Mum how proud I was of the way she had faced her final battle. Her response was simply, matter of factly: ‘I was just being me’.

No doubt, in true Marina style, she had no intention of being profound nor would she have realised the impact this conversation would have on the rest of my life.

These are now words I live by. At all times, in every situation, just be yourself.