Lessons from Grandma

I don’t normally write about personal matters, but it somehow feels fitting and appropriate to share some important leadership lessons that I learned from my grandma.

My grandma recently passed away at the age of 92, while my family and I were on vacation. I wasn’t able to make it to the funeral, but I thought about her often during our trip. When recalling our memories together, I realized that I think about my relationship with her in three distinct periods.

The first is as a child. That includes time on the farm, playing in the sandbox, riding ponies, and my grandma always feeding me – snacks, meals, and (sometimes) sweets and desserts. One thing that sticks out for me during this time is that I have no memory of ever being scolding by her. I only have memories of generosity, kindness, encouragement, and optimism.

The second period ranges from my teenage years to young adulthood. In this phase, I remember one-on-one conversations, which were sometimes lighthearted and funny, and sometimes very serious and honest. Conversations about her past, her life – and about my life and future. I remember my grandma as a great conversationalist and a great listener during these years.

The third period spans the last decade. This is when I watched my children develop their own meaningful relationships and memories with their great grandma. This was also the period where I watched her decline in health – both mentally and physically.

On our trip, my family and I talked about my grandma a lot. We have determined that the best way to honor her is if we all aspire to embody the things we admired about her. That is someone who was always generous, kind, encouraging, and optimistic.

While this article is in many ways a short tribute to my grandma, I am writing it for my leadership blog. The reality is that I see the call to live out these attributes I just explored as equally important to leaders – may we all be optimistic, encouraging, generous to others, and most of all, kind!

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Randy Grieser, CEO, Author, Speaker

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