Life doesn’t come with a manual, it comes with a mother. Which begs the question—where would we be without our mothers? They lift us up and keep us grounded. They stand by our side, cheer us on, and push us to reach our full potential. But above everything else—their love for us is unconditional. Here are a few things I learned from my mother that actually stuck.

Watch Your Manners.

Say please, write thank-you notes, and be polite. People notice and like being around you when you do these things, which is really important.

Travel and Explore.

Put yourself out there and try new things. Everyone in the world doesn’t do things the same way you do. Take a salsa class, go rock climbing, run a marathon or learn to speak a new language (or two)—and do it for yourself. Open your mind and see a situation from another’s perspective. When she dropped me off at college, she only said three things between the tears—study hard, laugh a lot and keep your honor.

Do Your Homework.

You have to learn the basics before things get interesting, so learn as much as you can as fast as you can because when you become the best at something, that’s when the real fun begins. There’s no substitution for paying your dues.

Respect Your Elders.

You may not like those who came before you but you must show respect to their position. You can learn something from everyone (both positive and negative), so listen to their stories and learn from their experience.

Honor Who You Are and Take Care Of You First.

Believe in yourself unapologetically. All work and no play is not a sustainable long-term strategy, so always make sure you leave time for some fun in your life, too. Take vacations, save room for dessert—life is short, so enjoy something in every day. Keep your tank full so you can be present with the important people in your life. Which brings me to: 

Be Careful Who You Let Into Your Inner Circle.

People show you who they are. Be clear on what attributes you value in others and keep firm boundaries with your closest friends. Do not divulge too much to those you do not hold in your inner circle and keep it positive—nurture those relationships. Recognize those that don’t hold your values. If someone shares gossip with you, consider that they could they be gossiping about you, too. 

Be Financially Independent.

Understand your finances and use your brain to figure out how to make a living while also making a difference. Don’t spend money you don’t have. Get in the habit of saving a little bit from every paycheck.

Hard Work Pays Off.

People see this and will know it about you. It helps to discover what you truly enjoy doing and do it passionately!  That thing you love and enjoy doing will fulfill you immensely. When you get tired of it, go find the next thing you love to do and do it as long as it fires you up inside! Her best piece of business advice was “Son, even if you win the rat race, you are still a rat.”

You Can Do Anything.

Mom always told me that I could handle anything life threw at me. My mom encouraged me but didn’t fix my problems. She had faith in me that I could handle anything from friend drama to professional choices and education decisions. So far so good.

And…Always Have Clean Nails.

And clean behind your ears. Cleanliness is next to Godliness and so on. As Muhammed Ali said, “if you look good, you feel good, and if you feel good, you play good and when you play good, they pay good.”

This Mother’s Day, hug your mother, give her a kiss and remember the little things she gave you.