Shermon Braithwaite on Motivation, Mentors, and Moms

By: Ken Streater | Passion | Purpose | Blog

“I could not have made it without him.”

“Behind every successful man is a woman.”

“Teachers create all other professions.”

“Because of you I did not give up.”

Throughout time, successful people have offered insights into what helped them realize their goals. More often than not, the biggiest influence was someone who lifted them up and encouraged them through words or by example to do their best.

American Grit contestant Shermon Braithwaite did not hesitate when asked who helped him fuel his drive, who gave him the strength to be fiercely independent: his mom.  American Grit, FOX television’s series about ordinary folks seeking to become extraordinary people by overcoming personal and motivational challenges, gave Shermon a chance to shine. He recently shared his perspective on mentors and his mom:

I got my independence from looking at my mom raise three children independently, working long hours, making sure she find a way to provide a roof over our heads. She showed me that single mothers are warriors, fearless, and brave. That’s what I had seen my whole life, my mother doing things on her own to make sure her kids are good. As I grew up I admired how strong and independent she was and is. She never gave up, probably broke down couple times, but still got back up. That’s what I call grit! So for me, seeing that gave me a new perception on life, if I need to get things done.

Other successful people credit mentors and moms for making them who they are:

For Oprah Winfrey, it was a teacher.  "I know I wouldn’t be where I am today without my fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Duncan." Mrs. Duncan believed in Oprah and made her feel smart. "My fourth-grade teacher, Mrs. Duncan, was my first liberator. She validated me”

Richard Branson got his mojo from a relative. “There have been countless occasions in my business career where everyone urged me to make one decision and I have gone in the opposite direction.” Branson gives credit to his eccentric Uncle Jim for his ability to take huge risks. He imparted the idea to Branson that when everyone thinks your idea is crazy, you might be on to something. His Uncle Jim had an unusual habit of eating grass in the army. This oddity eventually led to him teaching other soldiers how to survive on grass and nuts in battle.

Arianna Huffington credits her mom for her achievements. “I was brought up in a one bedroom apartment in Athens, Greece. My mom made me feel that I could aim for the stars. And if I failed along the way, that is okay. Huffington’s mom taught her that failure is not the end. “Failure is not the opposite of success, she used to say, it's a stepping stone to success.”

From Arianna to Oprah, Branson to Braithwaite, mentors and moms make a world of difference as you work your way up.