As we approach Mother's Day, it is natural to reflect on all the wonderful things that your mother has given you. At the very least she gave you life, and that is a pretty powerful gift.

Mothers come in all forms and personalities. Some are affectionate and doting, while some can be overbearing and controlling.

How was your relationship with your mom? We all know moms are important, but the root of your psychology and how you orient yourself towards success is more connected to your mother than you may realize.

First, think about your own success and approach to work. Then, take a look at these five critical things you should observe about your mother to get a deeper understanding of yourself:

1. Your mother's relationship with her career: Was your mom career orientated? Or did she give up her career or not have one in order to be a full-time mom? Or was motherhood her chosen career?

The bottom line is that your mother's relationship with her career is very telling of her commitment to both motherhood and career in itself. These are the messages that she unconsciously gave you about your own career. Dig into your past, and see if you can see yourself through your mother's career lens.

2. The messages your mother gave you about success: While you were growing up, what did your mother tell you about success? Were the messages tailored to your strengths, or were they a projection of her own view and potential fears?

Your own view of success could be a carbon copy of your mom's, depending on how forceful she was with you. Review her life, how she has lived and the choices she has made. Have you unconsciously adopted the same views?

3. Her behavior around achievement: Was your mom an achievement junkie? Did she seem more approving of your achievements than your inherent characteristics? Or was she doing the opposite? Your own perception of achievement has roots in what your mother's was, so figure out what that was and compare it to your own today. You may be surprised by the similarities.

4. The nature of her support: How did your mom support you? Was it conditional or unconditional? Did you have to be someone you were not to get her approval and support? Or did you have to just be yourself?

Look at how you currently support other people. Is it similar to your mom's behavior? How you were supported is embedded into your psychology, and becoming aware of this can be a fascinating exercise.

5. Her relationship to security: This a big one, based on Attachment Theory, which originates from the work of psychologist John Bowlby. He defines attachment as "lasting psychological connectedness between human beings." Your attachment to your mother is rooted in her own relationship to security. If she is secure and not fearful, you feel more comfortable being on your own and not worrying about her. If she is not secure and is fearful, she may have been overprotective or demanded more care and attention from you in order to feel OK.

The importance of this dynamic is that your own relationship to security has a direct impact on your ability to take risks and step out of your comfort zone, which are key components to being highly successful. Look to this key relationship as a way to diagnose your own relationship with security and potentially understand more about why you are more or less risk averse.


Often, we aren't aware of our psychology unless we have benefited from therapy or working with a coach. However, when it comes to your career and achieving your goals, knowing your psychology and unconscious associations with regard to success can be a game-changer. You can only become who you want to be when you know the depths of who you are.