My interview series looks at other neuro speech and language therapists. This new series explores people outside of the profession who inspire my working life.
On my dad’s 70th birthday it’s fitting that he is the first person to feature. He was my earliest role model of someone who is not afraid of hard work and his work ethos sticks with me very strongly today.
My dad when I growing up:
I am the 3rd of 6 children (4 girls and 2 boys). Despite my dad being a very traditional person on paper, in reality he treated the girls no different from the boys. I used to beg him every weekend for ‘wood and nails’ and he would bring out all his scrap pieces of wood and his tool-kit and let me and my sister make whatever we wanted. He taught us to mow the lawn, do DIY jobs, take stuff to the tidy tip etc. I had not heard of the concept of ‘blue jobs’ and ‘pink jobs’ until I was older and I was horrified! However my two girls have strong ideas of girl and boy jobs, even at their young age. Thanks to my dad, my husband and I try and instil in them the fact they can do anything they put their mind to- they don’t need a prince to come along and rescue them. We know there is a huge problem of a lack of women in science, particularly areas such as engineering. (As an aside – I love the book Rosie Revere Engineer as an inspirational book for girls). If more dads did what my dad did, then the science gender gap might have closed a bit more!
My dad on my school work:
My dad didn’t expect academic excellence but he did expect that we performed to our potential. He was particularly hot on our handwriting being the best it could be, and taking the time to do our work properly so homework wasn’t a ‘sloppy job’. Recently he handed me a folder full of my reports and certificate he had kept throughout my school life. In the folder was a copy of a letter he had sent to my year 9 form tutor. He had asked my form tutor to make sure all my teachers were pushing me as he felt I had become lax in recent weeks. I’m sure I was mortified at the time but my dads attention to detail and need to do things properly has always stayed with me.
If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing properly
My dad on working life and managing other people:
The advice that has stayed with me the most is
‘don’t be a jobs-worth’.
My dad taught me to embrace any work that I did as an opportunity. As a student I did many jobs I did not enjoy very much (retail, cold-calling, car sales, dental nursing to name a few!). I have tried to live by his advice to not say ‘that’s not my job’, but rather ‘let me see what I can do’. He is right, it has opened many more doors and opportunities for me.
The other piece of advice that has always stayed with me relates to management of others:
‘Praise in public, chastise in private’.
My dad as a support:
My dad has always been there to help me (and my siblings). He will be the first to say ‘What can I do to help you?’ or ‘Let’s look at this together’.
Once when I was going through a tough time with a very young baby (6 months old) a three year old, husband away and no sleep I phoned my parents for a bit of a moan. I was having to drive a 3 hour round trip twice a week to see a client and that was a particular killer. I was needing so much coffee to keep my eyes open on the road. My parents called me back a few hours later and offered my dad to be my chauffeur for a few days! I didn’t take them up on it but the genuine offer made all the difference to me and I was able to get back on track.
My dad and his interest in me and my siblings:
My dad is so interested in the six of us and what we all do (wide and varying careers and interests). He is so supportive of every new venture we do and shares it among the family in his monthly family letter or via whatapp voice messages I often wake up to in the morning (he is an early riser!). One day I noticed a hit on every page of this blog, and sure enough it was my dad having a good read as he fed back to me later that day (thankfully not correcting my spelling and grammar although I know I do sometimes make mistakes!).
(My dad and me 6 years ago)
So, to my dad, on his 70th birthday, I want to say thank you for the work ethos you have inspired in me. It will pass on through the generations! I love you very much xxxx