Friday, 1 August 2008

(Not So) Sharp Shooter

I used to regard myself as being quite sharp, and perhaps, on my good days even, in the words of Alan Sugar, drop-dead-shrewd.

My forte was finding better solutions, or simplifying systems and processes effectively.

That and negotiating pay rises with someone who wasn’t as skilled as me in that area.

I wasn’t a world beater by any means, but I’d forged a very successful career as an operations manager of a medium sized, yet rapidly expanding UK business.

While my laid-back and humorous approach to life meant I wasn’t always taken that seriously out of the work place, many respected, and often courted my opinion on all things business.

Now somewhere along the lines I’ve become a smidgen blunted.

I had put all that down to grief.

Being unable to focus on any matter for a sustained, or useful, amount of time.

Not being able to see the importance of any matter that wasn’t of life or death proportions.

These facets don’t bode well for efficiency experts.

But, last week a friend was brave enough to challenge my philosophy.

“It’s being a parent, and a full-time one makes it a thousand times worse,” they enthused.

In part I have to agree, being a parent, or more specifically, being a parent that takes an interest in their child, does have an impact upon one’s astuteness.

Even as part of a near perfect family unit I lost focus on my job terribly easily.

I didn’t want to go back to work once my son was born, and it was probably then I realised I was doing something I was good at, rather than having any interest in.

And detail, albeit sometimes having a monumental effect on the profit and loss account, or staff morale of the business, became just that, detail.

Detail I didn’t really give my full and proper attention to, or a monkey's toss about.

As time, and the job, have elapsed, I guess I’ve not needed to be focused on the blue-sky-thinking tat, and I have never really touched-base on anything anyway.

The more I think about my incisive rating, the more I think this has made me a better rounded individual, and will probably mean I would, technically, be able to be even better at this type of job than I was before.

I don’t imagine it would be long before the rust from the relevant cogs in my brain was brushed away.

Not that I ever really hope to be doing anything like that again.

OK, there was some stuff I enjoyed, aside from being paid.

I liked seeing people grow, and I took pleasure from implementing systems or procedure, that virtually made some parts of even my own job redundant.

But none of that matters compared to watching my son’s delight at singing at playgroup, or running from a lively cow, unable to control his laughter.

So if I have to take a while, or a lifetime, or nearer zombie-ness, that is absolutely fine with moi. Share/Save/Bookmark


Tismee2 said...

So tell me, were you just a tad OCD with lists and having everything colour co-ordinated and in it's place too? I am told I am good at setting up systems and managing things.

Like you though, now I have kids, I go to work to earn money to make the family happy not because I get a lot of self fulfillment from it. I am quite happy to clear my desk at the end of the day and walk out with nothing but time for my family.

No photos of the lively cow and laughing child (was it Laughing Cow to?)

Single Parent Dad said...

Tismee - Not so much OCD and lists. I used to run an ongoing to-do list, but I was always trying to get rid of paper and extensive procedure wherever I could.

All the images are in my brain cavity, perhaps they put too much presure on my sharpness bit.

Roads said...

I'm full of admiration for you, Ian, for taking the brave decision to become a full-time Dad. If business skills are defined as focusing on the important stuff, then perhaps you hit it right there.

I chose to keep working. In part because it made life easier from a financial point of view, and in part because I wanted to retain that essential part of me as an individual which work provides.

In many ways, difficult as it was in the early days, work provided the one reassuring constant amongst the shifting sands all around me.

More than this, I was desperate to prove that my life would not be defined by this one event, however large an event that was.

Perhaps that was also the result of my stubborn anger, riling against the hand that I'd been dealt. It might well have been an emotional and selfish decision, then, as much as a thoughtfully considered and considerate one. I was determined to stick two fingers up to the fates and say 'I'm bloody well going to carry on being me, whatever these new realities might suggest.'

These are difficult decisions for single parent Dads, because there aren't many role models for lone fathers to look up to.

According to the latest statistics that I could find, 56% of lone fathers are in full-time work, compared with 21% of lone mothers.

Hats off to you for proving that another kind of approach is both practical and enormously rewarding.

Single Parent Dad said...

Thanks Roads, but it's horses for courses. My child was much younger than yours, as I recall, and you just do what suits you, don't you?

I almost saw it as an opportunity for me, to have an even closer relationship with my child, while re-visiting what I wanted to do for sustenance.

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