The beautiful little boy in the picture is called Austin. His parents are called Paul and Vicki. At the time of writing (May 2018), Austin is crawling up on four months’ old. Literally.
Paul and his brother Danny (who has 19-month old twins, a boy and a girl) run a very successful recruitment company called Liquid Recruitment, you may have heard of it. Before Austin rocked up, Vicki was an Executive Assistant at a successful property firm. Now she’s just a mum.
‘Just’ a mum? JUST A MUM? Are you kidding me?
Notwithstanding Vicki’s permanent covering of someone else’s bodily fluids, she cleans up after the little one, prepares his meals, washes his stuff, makes sure there are no sharp edges on the coffee table and she has put those plastic things into all the plug holes. In the next few years, she will also know the scripts, by heart, of every Peppa Pig, Thomas the Tank Engine and Fireman Sam episode ever written.
There’s more of course. The list is endless and on rotation for, like, ever. We all know what mums do and if your mum did for you what Vicki does for Austin (and millions of her peers do for their own children,) perhaps you won’t leave it so long between phone calls…?
What Changes After Baby Arrives?
Everything and nothing.
Let’s take Vicki as a case study. Before Austin arrived her job was stressful, she worked irregular hours, she had a thousand things to deal with, organise, sort out and firefight, she had busy bosses who were unrelenting in their demands and she had very little time for herself.
After Austin arrived her job is stressful, she works irregular hours, she has a thousand things to deal with, organise, sort out and firefight, she has a busy boss who is unrelenting in his demands and she has very little time for herself.
In a practical and logistical sense, not much has changed. She is under the same stress but instead of it coming from a perfectly capable 50-year-old executive, it now comes from an utterly helpless four-month-old child.
What does change – for some, fundamentally – is the mindset.
A switch is flicked in the brain.
We spoke to Austin’s dad, Paul. ‘I won’t deny it. Pre-kids, my brother Danny and I were typical recruitment consultants – work hard, play harder. We didn’t behave outrageously by any stretch but we spent our money on things like cars, holidays, clothes and varying degrees of bling but since our kids have arrived, the mindset has changed more than I could have ever envisaged.’
Instead of leading what was essentially a (fun) hand-to-mouth existence, a more long-term outlook has taken over.
‘Work to us was – and for millions of others still is – a means to an end. Now, we’re looking past payday at the end of the month. As employers and parents, we’re far more focused on growing the business organically and in the right way. We’re more invested in our staff, not just materially but emotionally. We’re looking to leave a legacy for our children.’
But How Does Having a Baby Help You at Work?
To be clear, this isn’t a critique on family life, more of an observational piece on what we’ve learned being parents and running a business at the same time. The skills, are, perhaps surprisingly, completely interchangeable.
Responsibility Taking ownership of a child’s welfare is like taking ownership of a task in the office. If you’re going to do something, do it properly. No-one likes the guy that does half a thing and doesn’t see it through to the end.
The Big Picture Living day-to-day, month-to-month can be exciting and fun but when baby comes, that stops. The same with work. A career is better than a job. Look further than your next holiday.
Patience Do you get stressed at the small, inconsequential things? The girl in accounts who slurps her soup? The marketing guy who wears too much aftershave? The kids who don’t say thank you when you let them cross the road? A baby teaches you that time itself is largely inconsequential. They will fall asleep when they want. They’ll eat when and as much as they want. It can take you two hours to bring up a burp. Be patient. Be calm. Be more Zen. If you are, those around you will be.
New Perspectives Seeing a new world of wonder and amazement through the eyes of a child is one of life’s true pleasures and can reinvigorate you. So can a fresh perspective at work. Try something you’ve not done before. Speak up in a meeting. Think about ways in which you can really contribute rather than going through the motions every day.
Kicking Habits Having kids forces you to reassess almost every aspect of your life and for many, it’s an amazing opportunity to kick out some unwanted habits. You will have to learn lots of brand-new things – changing a nappy, coping with very little sleep and preparing a day’s worth of bottles at 2am. The same things happen at work. Learn new things. If you do, it will be noticed. Don’t get bored or stuck in a rut. If you do, it will be noticed.
Have you had an epiphany, pre- or post-children that have helped you in the workplace? Drop us a line and as always, kudos if you send a fax.
Catch you soon.
The Liquid Team