Updated: Nov 23, 2020

For all moms out there -- if you think labor pain was the worst part you'll ever endure being a parent, let me tell you that's just the beginning of the pain we must go through in the journey of parenthood.

Let's cut the chase...

Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, can be more painful than to see your child fail. What's worse is that if you're a level-headed parent, you know you have to allow it because it might just be one of the greatest lessons your child needs to learn and makes him that much stronger.

Teach my child to embrace every challenge, every failure almost seems hypocritical. The parent side of me is teaching to be strong, to turn adversity into opportunity.

Yet, the human side of me wishes I have a magic wand, so this process does not have to be as painful.

You would think it gets easier as your child grows older. It doesn't. On the contrary, your heart aches more as you proudly, and painfully, witness your child maturely handle the next challenge on his own.

Of course, it does not help when your child is involved in some sort of competitive activities such as the annual Drum Corps International (DCI) auditions. Thousands of dollars out the door just during the auditioning season leaves you no cash left for therapy.

Once your child is contracted (Yay!), your relationship and communication with your child would then heavily rely on Life360 while he enjoys this once-in-a-life-time priceless experience every second throughout the summer. Except this priceless experience runs between $3500-$5300. However, by then you're so proud of your child, you find yourself looking at the credit card bill with a huge smile on the face.

When Collin came home with his first D, we went for ice cream to celebrate. Why would a third-grade teacher giving young kids a D is another story. I am glad I did that. At a young age, it is instilled in his mind that failing isn't the end of world, and it does not define who he is. What sets him different is how quickly he picks himself up, finds humor in it, and move on.

I, as a parent, have not reached the ZEN level. I am not sure if I ever will.

Updated: May 28, 2020

...and just like that, my son started college in August 2019.

I recall as soon as Collin left on his first day of high school senior, I danced around the living room and even gave myself a standing ovation. I congratulated myself, "You did it! You did it! Last year of high school has arrived!"

Within a blink of an eye, he walked across the stage and proudly received his high school diploma from his Principal. Within a couple of days, he left home and toured with the Santa Clara Vanguard Cadets in California.

At the time, I was way too excited for him. Heck, it's been his dream to be contracted with one of the drum corps since eighth grade. Nothing makes this proud momma happy to see her child living his dream.

Fast forward, roughly three weeks after he returned home from drum corps, we loaded boxes and suitcases to the car. And just like that, he moved into the college dorm.

I also relocated to north Fort Worth area.

Then it happened.

Two weeks after I happily settled into the new nest, it hit me with absolutely no warning -- this isn't a new nest. It's a freaking EMPTY NEST -- the most despicable, unwarranted, and overactive term that I can't help but roll my eyes every time I hear or see people use it.

The truth is I spent the last 18 years prepping him for this day, and I completely forgot to prepare myself.

It's been the two of us since he was three years old. Summer break to him has always been just a weekend - last day of school on Friday, and the first day of camp on Monday. I had him memorize my phone number and our home address before he could write. I cheered for him at each tee-ball, soccer, and basketball game. Alone. I attended every single holiday concert, band performance, and drove him to each contest, from martial arts to drum corp auditions. Alone. I stayed up when he got sick. Alone. I advocated for him. Alone. I fought for him. Alone. Do you see where I am going with this? That's right, I should be the last person on earth being hit by the unfamiliar sadness when realizing I am now an official resident of an empty nest since I did everything ALONE.

Fortunately, by now, I've learned not to judge my feelings. I told myself I had every right to feel the way I feel, despite how much I hate it. And just like that, I let out all the tears and cried like a baby.

And just like that, I broke down in tears for the first time. I can assure you these weren't happy tears. These were what-the-hell-just-happened tears. These were I-change-my-mind, I-am-not-ready tears. These were first-day-of-kindergarten-was-only-yesterday tears.

I went through his baby photos and cried some more. I keyword-searched empty nest on YouTube and turned it off thinking "What the hell do these shrinks know!"

This empty nest awakening lasted roughly 48 hours, and I survived by allowing - allowing myself to be sad; allowing myself to miss my son; allowing myself to briefly feel sorry for myself; allowing myself to be a mom. And most of all, I allowed myself to be me. Being sad is part of me. The need to cry is part of me.

Allowing is part of self-love. Allowing is acceptance without further explanation and judgment.

So the countdown begins...

I look forward to Thanksgiving when he comes home for the first time. I will likely buy more than enough of his favorite food for his homecoming. I probably won't stop smiling during that four-day weekend.

Except that's another 9 more weeks to go. Bloody hell!

When asked Richard Branson if he could boil it down to just ONE valuable business advice to everyone, he replied:

“It’s all about finding and hiring people smarter than you.  Getting them to join your business and giving them good work.  Then getting out of their way and trusting them… And here’s the main thing… you must make them see their work as a MISSION.”

Your employees need to see their work as a mission.

When you witness low employee engagement and see most of your employees do not look for ways to maximize their contribution or even demonstrate initiatives, you know they aren’t seeing their work as a mission. 

That said, there are also cases when the employee is eager to do a great job and go above and beyond but ended up being frustrated as their efforts are being blocked by the upper management as they’re failing to see the bigger picture. 

I cringed when I see the large number of unhappy employees and formal employees reviewing their ass bosses on Glassdoor. 

So how can you provide a work environment filled with positive vibes?

  1. Set all of your employees up for success.  If you would like to get the best out of your talent, you’ve got to invest your time in them.  Would you feed your Pharaoh Hound or Tibetan Mastiff cheapest dog food? I didn't think so.  When you look at each employee, are you able to recall their strength without flipping through their resume?  You have to know them to help them grow.

  2. Make sure everyone is on the same page.  When was the last time you asked your employee company’s mission?  Before you jump out of your chair, please make sure that your mission isn’t measured by sales revenue.  When you set your mission to be revenue-driven, you are setting your company up for short term gain and long term failure. 

  3. Provide an adequate support to your employees. How? You ask.  It is as simple as to listen, observe, and ask.  Is it possible they are spending most of their day working on time consumed low-value work? Are you telling them what to do or utilizing their strength and skills?  

  4. To inspire and be inspired™.  Start each day with the positive mindset of looking forward to inspiring your team and be inspired by your team – both equally important.  This is the best way to avoid becoming an ego-driven leader.

I cannot emphasize the importance in building a healthy and positive company culture enough.  It is impossible to create such environment when you’re leading with ego rather than passion.  Utilize your employees’ talent – do not ask a bird to swim nor a fish to fly.  Happy employees create loyalty. 

A leader leads a mission-driven team while a boss leads a group of bitter employees. What would you like to be?