Alex Malley, CEO of CPA Australia once shared that all of us have childhood experiences that shape our views on life and leadership. He told a story about his life’s first deep experience. It was when he was just a 12-year-old and his mother was severely sick. She was hospitalised.
In countries like Australia and Japan, children are expected to take care of themselves from quite young an age. It is likely that you will see 6-year-old kids in Japan, taking the tube to travel all by themselves. Alex recounts his first visit to the hospital all by himself. He was quite apprehensive. Walking down the corridors, searching for the right room and finally finding the room was an overwhelming experience.
When he entered the room, he saw his mother sleeping. He wasn’t sure what to do. A janitor came to clean the floors. He saw this 12-year-old boy looking very lost and unsure of himself. The janitor put down his stuff and came over to him. He looked at Alex and said, “You must be Alex.” Alex was surprised and quite taken aback. The janitor continued, “Your mom told me a lot about you. She is very proud of you. Her health is not ok. However, what is important is that you should know, she loves you very much.”
With that, the janitor smiled and left the room.
This sharing by the janitor conveyed a powerful message that stuck in Alex’s mind forever. He learned very deeply, in no uncertain terms, how much his mother loves him and believes in him”. This lesson stayed with Alex ALWAYS. He always wanted to make his mother proud of him. That was his driving force in life.
What a lovely thing for the mother to do even when she is hospitalised. Wow parenting, isn’t it?
If you were in place of that parent, would you speak with the janitor about how wonderful your child is? Would you share how proud you are of him/her? Forget about the hospital, wherever socially acceptable and possible, would you spread good words about your child?
Do you think Alex’s mother did the right thing?