The most important job you’ll ever have
I’m a fortunate man.
I’ve been privileged to have the opportunity to work in some extraordinary environments and organisations for over twenty years. I’ve learned a lot, and continue to learn more.
What humbles me most is that hundreds of high-calibre people have entrusted me with their own development, and from them I have learned the most.
To do all of this work, I’ve accumulated both qualifications and experience. I have a list of academic qualifications from various universities. I’ve worked in different countries, in different roles and I’ve banked the proverbial 10,000 hours in my present profession.
So, if you’re hiring me, or my business’s services, you can see that I’ve got a track record of achievement and I’m ready to do the job.
That’s the way the world works, right?
Well, what about the most important job any of us will ever have? Do we have the qualifications or experience required for that?
What am I talking about?
The most important job any of us will ever have is that of a parent.
There’s no post-graduate qualification in being a Dad. Nor is there a requirement to register as a Dad before bringing a new human being into the world.
We ‘just do it’.
We learn by doing, learn by what those around us are doing, and from what we experienced ourselves in our own family environments.
Is it any wonder that we struggle?
This is humanity’s greatest blind spot. We have not developed a sustainable method to improve our performance as parents.
The consequences are serious. We struggle as parents, our children don’t get all they might from us, and the cycle continues.
In the 21st century, we have become wonderful parents in many regards: we are world-class consumers — we buy all the gear and all the stuff, we fit into the systems and schedules of schools, childcare and organised activities, we provide the latest entertainment experiences.
But there’s no school for Mums and Dads, no place to go when you need help, no obvious place from where to seek counsel about our own feelings.
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A few years ago, I met Val Mullally. She introduced herself as a parenting coach. My immediate reaction was to do an internal eye-roll. In the way of the modern cynical world, my internal dialogue was “FFS, there are coaches for every f**king thing now”.
As I heard her speak, and began to discover her approach, connections started to form in my mind. I could see how a coaching approach would indeed have benefit for a parent in the unfamiliar circumstances of raising a child.
Over time, I was delighted to see Val develop her own work to the point that she went from appearing on radio, TV and the press to writing her own book. Fascinated, I got my hands on it, and I found it transformational.
In summary, it introduced me to a mindful approach to parenting. Rather than trying to change situations or the kids’ behaviour, it made me realise that I could control was my own response. I’m a happier person since reading it, and I hope a better parent too.
This year, I had the opportunity to attend one of Val’s workshops. There was no slideshow on Top Tips for Avoiding Tantrums, or any superficial stuff like that. Instead, I was forced to reflect on my own actions, my own thinking, and how I was holding myself back as a parent.
Special people like Val Mullally are at the forefront of a nascent movement to build some form of means for us to develop our skills as parents. I’m certain that in a century from now, people will analyse the early 21st century and wonder how humanity showed progress given our haphazard approach to the most important job we’ll ever have.
Val has also developed an online course, which can be accessed easily via smartphone, which I also recommend.