The Achievement Shift

The Achievement Shift

You’re a high flyer at work. You get sh*t done. You’re known for doing whatever it takes to get projects over the line. Let’s face it, you’re good at achieving.  Then along comes this bundle of joy, with not a care in the world. No concept of time and space. Just a pure existence.  An existence that consumes your energy and your time and in return offers you pure love. You catch glimpses of enjoying this love and for the most part, you’re thinking I need to do stuff. There’s important stuff I’m not doing because the nappy changing, clothes washing, feeding cycle never seems to end.  You find yourself finishing off dinner, doing the bed and bath time routine, then falling into an exhausted slump on the couch and find yourself asking what did I actually achieve today? So many executive parents find themselves at a loss after having a child because they can no longer relate to their pre-child achievement criteria of being in control of: Getting a project done on time.Getting through a task listGetting feedback on your progress and performance After a child is born it’s the polar opposite, things are often out of your control. They rarely run to schedule, the task list gets bigger and no-one gives you feedback on your progress and performance. “You cleaned that bottom meticulously today, well done” – yeah right!  Feeling like you’re not achieving leads to resentment, frustration and can also lead to anxiety and perceived lack of self-worth, like you’re never doing enough or never get enough done.  Redefining achievement post children comes down to feeling...
Aligning Family and Work

Aligning Family and Work

If you don’t yet know who she is, Jacinda Arden is one of the greatest political leaders of our time. In the aftermath of the Christchurch Attack, as prime minister, she has navigated the community with empathy, love and political grace.  She has requested other world political leaders to focus on peace and empathy for their muslim communities, as she leads the way on how to do this in New Zealand. She is a powerful, peaceful force to be reckoned with.  But what has this got to do with working parents? In an interview with Waleed Aly, she is asked the question, “Have you had time to be with family?” She has a 9-month old baby. She replies, “No, not much.  Actually, at the moment my time with them probably wouldn’t be quality because I feel such a draw to be focused on doing what’s needed for those who have lost loved ones” (An interview worth watching). She responds with conviction and congruency that her nation needs her presence more than her family right now. A few short months ago, she made political history by taking her baby to the UN and in an interview at that time when asked what made her take her baby, she replied that her baby needs to be fed to keep her alive. Amen to that! How often do you find yourself torn between work and family? How does Jacinda manage it all? Now of course not all things are equal – Jacinda has a great deal of support and flexibility in her role as prime minister. However, she demonstrates what is fundamentally...
A busy parent’s guide to raising awesome kids

A busy parent’s guide to raising awesome kids

As time poor parents pursuing full careers and creating amazing childhoods for our children, we have our work cut out. When you first found out you were having a baby, no doubt you read every book or article you could get your hands on and attended classes to prepare. Once baby arrived, you knew your life would never be the same again and you would love the miracle that lay before you in a way you never previously imagined. What you didn’t know and couldn’t prepare for was how much you’d be required to change to accommodate this baby, this person. And as much work as it is, you wouldn’t have it any other way. Add a career to this picture and there is a reality that kicks in, logistics of child care and school (when they are of age), the carers and teachers to connect with, other parents to catchup with and then the paperwork – who knew there’d be so much paperwork?! On top of this you find out all sorts of things about your partner that were OK to handle before a child, after a child – not so much! Come on, be honest..or was it just me? And in amongst all of this reality, nowhere once are you taught how to thrive in amongst the sheer volume of responsibility. It’s not a question of reducing your career (which is an option some choose), it’s a question of how do I do all the things that make me feel alive and ensure my children and family thrive too? Now, let’s be clear this is a conversation...
Why are parents forgetting to invest time in the most important leadership role of their lives?  By Jenny Vanderhoek

Why are parents forgetting to invest time in the most important leadership role of their lives? By Jenny Vanderhoek

Throughout my last 10 plus years in corporate, I attended minimum 2 leadership courses or conferences a year. I always came back feeling refreshed from the learnings and ready to kick off the next project with some of the newfound skills that I had learnt. When I was pregnant with my kids, I spent a lot of time reading bookings and getting information from new apps about the different milestones of pregnancy and labour. I did this because my doctors, midwives and friends suggested it. After I had kids, I just went into survival mode and even getting through the day was an achievement. I was constantly googling every time my child and I met a new milestone that I didn’t know how to manage yet… tantrums, sharing, biting, fussy eating, hair pulling, whinging- you name it! Once my kids hit toddler age, friends in the same position would often reassure me that the tantrums were just normal, and this was referred to as the ‘terrible twos’ or and was simply a natural progression of growth. What I didn’t recognise, was how much the ‘terrible twos’ affected me. I felt lost very often as to what to do. I was tired, frustrated and felt guilty that I didn’t seem to be nailing this parenting gig. I was worried that my kids behaviour might have been due to my poor parenting. When you talk to other parents about it, you would often get recommendations for books or articles or gurus to follow on social media. However, I must admit, not one of these solutions ever truly resonated with me as...
Sharing the mental load

Sharing the mental load

The concept of mental load was popularised recently by french comic, Emma. Emma, accurately depicts the multiple things we do as parents whilst doing something as simple as inviting a friend over for dinner. Whilst preparing a meal for your friend, you are also ensuring the kids are eating. When they are not, you are encouraging them to eat and in between trying to have a conversation with your friend. Meanwhile, the food boils over and you are now cleaning that up. You get the picture… That’s just ONE dinner. Then add to that the mental load associated with one child: nurturing their hopes and dreams, ensuring they are polite, that they wash their hands, they have a balance of activities and the food they like to eat. Drop off and pick up arrangements from day-care, school and activities. Quality time with grandparents, self-esteem, blossoming friendships, dealing with the kid with mean behaviour in the playground. The list goes on. The mental load increases for more children with differing needs. Contrary to popular belief, it is not only mums that feel the burden of the mental load it is dads too. It is the main carer who often bears the brunt. But what happens when both parents work and both parents are the main carers? Whilst in most families, both parents are working, women are still doing the lion’s share of the work. Census data clearly shows Australian women spend, on average, 5 to 14 hours per week in unpaid domestic work, whereas men spend less than 5 hours a week. Women also spend an additional hour a day looking...
You family vision

You family vision

A strong vision of success is essential to great leadership as a parent. Without a vision, you may have great ideas of how you want your child to be, however without the focus and the discipline on what matters you can get lost in myriad of things you do each day and lose sight of the bigger picture. Without a vision, daily tasks can feel hollow and operational, rather than practical and meaningful. “If you are working on something exciting that you really care about, you don’t have to be pushed. The vision pulls you.” Steve jobs I recently took my parents through an exercise to create a vision for their family. Whilst myself and my older sibling are very much leaders in our own families, my younger sibling is mentally disabled and is heavily dependant upon my parents. Up until now my parents have been managing the day to day – getting by and dealing with whatever comes up next. However, this is the first time in 40 years they have stepped back and been able to articulate their vision for my brother. In their words this has meant, “Clarity on what needs to be done” “Focus on what matters most, despite the day-to-day things that come up” “A general direction, rather than meandering” “Feeling like we have some control over the future” It is so often easier and more appealing to carry on and just get through the day. Walter Mischel is a researcher and author of the Marshmallow Test, a study carried out on the effects of delayed gratification. If a child was offered a marshmallow immediately...