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What do you do, Mummy?

(This blog was written at the time of UK Covid-19 lockdown)


I'm not a doctor, a delivery driver, a teacher or any kind of 'key worker' in this brave new world... I'm not any of the jobs my daughter recognises. So, what exactly is it that I do?

7pm, as any parent knows, is the time that all small children wheel out their killer questions; the ones that can't be quickly deflected but demand a thoughtful response that will inevitably delay bedtime. Questions range from "What will happen to me when you die?" to "Why is the moon there?"


A few months ago, one of my curious, kind and clever daughters looked up from her pillow with her almond-shaped, earnest eyes. She noted my tardy return home (commuting almost seems like a quaintly nostalgic notion now), stroked the belt of my work coat affectionately and asked, "Mummy, what do you do?" In essence this translates as "what is so important that you need to be away all day from me and come home when I'm about to go to sleep?"


I am late home. I engage my brain, forget I am hungry and in need of the bathroom and dig deep on this long, long day.


So how will I explain my role to a 6 year old? Today I wrote some emails, made some calls and created pictures and words on my laptop to tell other grown ups about ideas I have had. I talked to lots of adults about how they can communicate more effectively with other people and learn how to be great leaders. Hmmm, maybe I should give her the elevator pitch. Under the honest scrutiny of an inquisitive child, nothing vague or waffly will pass the test.


I want my daughter to know that work is not a chore or somewhere parents have to go. That whilst it is often challenging, it is enjoyable. I want her to know it's important and satisfying to do a job well but that I have felt conflicted when it means leaving her and her sister for periods where I just can't be with them. I want her to feel that what I do counts.


More accurately, I realise I want to feel that what I do counts.


I love my job but something has been bubbling for a while that's telling me it's not the perfect fit it was. I've grown. I head up Learning & Development for an award-winning Great Place to Work in the UK, designing and delivering experiences that help people to lead brilliantly and win business. I know it makes a difference to individuals and to the business. I've realised I want to spend more of my time doing the parts of the job I love most, do best and that go to the heart of why I'm in this field. It's the one-to-one coaching, getting into the most fertile ground for change and helping people break through thinking barriers to find new insights and possibilities that transform their ability to reach their goals.


I know what I want to do when I grow up. In fact, I am already doing it but I can do more of it, more often, with fewer distractions and more on my own terms. There is a change I need to make. More on that to come.


I tell my daughter I help grown ups to talk about what matters most to them, to learn (or sometimes remember) how to listen, be kind and honest with others and themselves, to engage their teams' hearts and minds and to create a clear sense of purpose. I help people fulfil more of their potential, making it ok to learn, try new things and get even better at their jobs.


I think I've lost her, tying myself in knots finding the words I don't yet have to explain what I do and what I want to do more of.


"Oh, you mean you help people have a growth mindset, Mummy?"


That will do.


 

Georgie Rudd is an accredited Executive & Leadership Coach. She runs her own practice, Rudd Coaching Ltd, splitting her time between 1:1 coaching, group coaching and facilitation of leadership development programmes. Georgie often works on leadership impact, self-belief and the inner critic, managing healthier work/life rhythms, effective delegation, building relationships and career transitions. She is also co-founder of Think Perspective (www.thinkperspective.com), running The Listening Lab to help people at work unlock the power of listening and have higher quality conversations everyday.

Contact georgie@ruddcoaching.co.uk for more information.

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