On my career journey, I’ve often wondered is it nature or nurture that drives who we are. Can we change/adjust, does life events alter our perspective/behaviours, or will we always revert to type?
To really understand this, I have gone back to my early influences, my Mum and Dad. As with many families over 30 years ago, my Mum stayed at home to raise my brother and me, and my Dad went out to work. Mum was the one taking me to all my after school activities, whilst I replayed them to Dad when he got home.
Reflecting on my personal and career drivers today, what has made me desire to have a career like my Dad, but be as nurturing and loving to my children as my Mum.
What I realised is that I was fortunate enough to have 2 very strong individuals guiding me.
My Mum had the strength to stay at home and raise 2 children, something I now realise is a really hard job. She gave me the strength of character, the emotional support I always needed, but also the work ethic. To ensure we could have a holiday every year, Mum would waitress in our village restaurant to save enough money to take us away every year. Something I know she was really proud of.
My Dad was pretty progressive. He was a cheerleader for women and always encouraged people to, ‘do their best’. No matter how long it took, or how much he had to travel for work, he would always take the time to help me with my homework, (ssshhh don’t tell my teachers), listen to how my day went and encourage me to try my hardest.
I saw my Dad leading a company, but always understanding what motivated people, and encouraged them to work harder for him; understanding what was happening in people’s lives and making the appropriate allowances, listening to everyone, no matter what level, to what wasn’t working in the business and being visible, walking the floor and holding regular all business meetings where people could raise any concerns they may have.
Throughout my life, my Dad pushed me to get the best grades possible, reach for that next role but never forget it is other people that can help you achieve this. The latter is certainly something which has taken me a long time to learn!
On reflection, my Dad really was my first mentor; honest, open, challenging and always willing to help.
It is only now he has passed away, I realise how much of an influence Dad’s are on their daughters. They set the first expectation of how girls/women see men treating them.
I therefore encourage all Dads of daughters to tell them they can be anything they want, support them in their life journey and show them that equality really does exist.