Women have worked and led societies for thousands of years. Leaders such as Artemisia of Halicarnassas, Cleopatra of Egypt, Elen Luyddog of Wales, Lei-tzu of China, and Olympias of Macedonia just to name a few. In the modern world and in the promotion of women in work, were the Daughters of Liberty, Abigail Adams, Victoria Woodhull, and Frances Perkins. While improving the disparities in pay and respect have been hard earned, the contribution and value of women is indisputable and immeasurable.
I grew up watching a hard-working leading woman, my mom, Linda Stokes Owens.
My mom began her career in her twenties working for a medical group in Georgia. She met my father and within two years started her career in running a household, raising two boys and serving communities. When I was a middle-schooler, she began to take college courses to build her skills and after we moved to Texas, she became a realtor and property manager. Twenty-seven years ago, she began working at Texas Dairy Queen Corporate where she fulfilled countless roles for nearly three decades.
Next week Linda will retire just before her 76th birthday.
I’ve watched my mom lead and labor all of my 52 years and I have learned countless lessons from her example as I can image those working close to her have also learned and benefited.
The most important lesson I learned from my mom’s years of work is how to manage relationships in the workplace. She’s very intentional about building relationships and being aware of what is going on in the lives of others. She looks for opportunities to encourage and support those with whom she works. She encourages those around her during their struggles and difficulties in life and she celebrates their successes.
Even when people are difficult to work with, or for, she is committed to setting a good example and never displaying anger or a negative response. She prays for those she finds difficult and continues to look for ways to meet needs in their life if something arises.
My dad would offer me needed practical career advice while my mother offered me encouragement and steadfastness.
She is a lifelong learner. She is not afraid to go back and take classes, to step into new roles, achieve new certifications and licensing, and to adapt to ever changing software and processes. When she started her career she used a typewriter and she moved along into the web applications and software tools of today. She’s never been afraid to learn and adapt to new tools.
She set the example of working hard. Her offices are in the mid-cities and she starts her day in the four A.M. hour to take care of tasks around her home and to get to the office early before traffic builds. I’ve watched her work countless weekends. She cared for my father in his last weeks alive while working from the dining room table ensuring she did not shirk any task at the office and did not miss a moment with dad. Running a home and a career she remains committed to her church community and neighbors. First to serve and never to complain.
She never makes excuses. Tired, under the weather, or just needing a break are not reasons she stays home from work. She has kept the same driven pace all the way into her 70s. Her career was full of ups and downs, but she remained committed to the people and tasks before her out of a care for others and loyalty to those she serves.
My father instilled in me salesmanship while my mother instilled through her example: commitment, service to others, patience, and an eternal perspective and purpose to our labor here on earth. When I reflect, my mom had the greatest impact on setting my working patterns and affecting my career.
Linda Owens has set the bar high for all of us as we consider how we not only move through our careers, but the entirety of how we should live. I still have more work to do to achieve a greater level of application of these lesson she taught.
We now have the opportunity to learn something new from her – how to use our time in retirement. I am confident she will be a tough act to follow.
Congratulations Mom on an amazing career and thanks for providing such an amazing example. May the next adventure be full of wonderful experiences.