Bridging the Past and the Future: 8 Lessons

Every day brings a new beginning. New beginnings can signify leaving the past on the way to the future. We've all been there, and while it's exciting, it's also scary to travel the bridge that takes you from your yesterday to your tomorrow.
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Every day brings a new beginning. New beginnings can signify leaving the past on the way to the future. We've all been there, and while it's exciting, it's also scary to travel the bridge that takes you from your yesterday to your tomorrow.

Whenever I'm about to embark on a journey, or whenever I close the door on an important era in my life, I look at a painting on my wall by a very special artist, my mother.


Bearing the words, "Never forget the bridge that brought you across", this painting signifies so much. My mother, Ellie Nazemoff, is the strong, fearless, president and CEO of her own successful business performance consulting company, Acolyst, in the Washington DC metro area.

As her birthday approaches, I am mindful that it wasn't always like that for her. At one point, she found herself at the edge of a bridge. A bridge called New York City.

Originally from Iran, my mom came to this country in 1977 to get an education. When she arrived at JFK airport and saw it alive with women rushing by in business suits, filled with energy, she knew that the US was the place for a woman with dreams. Despite the fact that English wasn't her first language, her ambition and drive kept her going, helping her complete college and later open her own business, which is still thriving 25 years later. All the while, she taught my brother and I the importance of love, having the right attitude, working hard, being dedicated, and approaching every endeavor with passion and commitment. She has always said to me, "success is defined by the people that believe and trust in you and the positive impacts you make and leave behind."

At times, we all find ourselves at crossroads between our past and our future and need a little nudge to keep going. The good news is that we're not the first ones to need inspiration and we won't be the last. I hope you'll be able to benefit from some of my mother's lessons, as I have.

Bridging the Past and the Future: 8 Lessons

#1 - Heed your spark. My mother felt a spark when she landed in New York for the first time and she listened to it, deciding to pursue the business world. Do what ignites you.

#2 - Your life is not a checklist. Others don't define you, you define yourself. My mother faced much pressure to live the life that her family dictated based on what they knew at that time. Despite the fact that she did not have a master plan, she knew it was important to go out on her own and create her own opportunities, even if that meant being a single mother, fighting for what is right and raising two amazing children (I add with a big smile) on her own - with the support and love of her mother, my grandmother.

#3 - Push through roadblocks. When applying for small, woman-owned business status with the government, my mom was repeatedly challenged due to the fact that she did not have the documentation to "prove she was a woman." Finally, she brought my brother's birth certificate to the Small Business Administration (SBA) and declared "No man has delivered a baby as of now. I am a woman and proud of it!" Don't let the annoyance of unnecessary paperwork, processes and procedures bring you down or halt your progress forward. Stay focused!

#4 - Own your voice. There is so much pressure to say the right things, own the right clothes, and make safe choices. But, when you copy others you lose yourself. Comparison is the thief of joy. Who are you? What makes you different? What makes you special? Own that. In today's world, the only way to stand out is to be authentic. As my mom says, "If you want to make a difference, you must be different yourself."

#5 - Uplift others. Take care of the bridge that takes you from yesterday to today, for you are not the only one who will travel it. Leave it a little better than you found it. Create opportunities for those who follow you. Remember the times when you were in need and how people opened the door for you. My mother was fortunate to have several mentors who helped her transition to her new life and she seeks to "pay it forward" by doing the same thing for others.

#6 - Surround yourself with the right people. Connect with people who share your vision. Surround yourself with those who will grow with you and support you. Sometimes people get in the way (including family) because they have a different mindset and vision. Respectfully acknowledge their opinions, take stock, and continue on your journey.

#7 - Never stop learning. "Maintain your passion and continue to learn new things so you will always be a step ahead of the latest trends and technologies," my mother advises. Many years after receiving her college degree, she followed another spark and got her PhD in alternative medicine. Now she infuses her business with a holistic view, which renewed her passion and excitement for her work.

And, the last, and possibly the most important lesson that I learned from my mother's journey...

#8 - Be truly grateful. Without all of the bumps, friends, challenges, and opportunities that arose during your journey, you would not be the person you are today. So, be grateful and take time to reflect on the bridge that you are crossing over. Be grateful for the experience, no matter how tough.

We all traverse different paths. But there is comfort in knowing that many came before us and many will come after us. Happy travels and enjoy the moments of each endeavor!

Valeh Nazemoff is international bestselling author of The Four Intelligences of the Business Mind, as well as a coach, business consultant, and co-owner of Acolyst.

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