Guest Post Article By Colin Wee, SuperParents Pty Ltd http://www.superparents.com.au
Ever seen someone in front of a video game? They sit. They stare. They’re drooling.
For all intents and purposes, they’ve been sucked into their little virtual game world. What you see is only their slack-jawed glassy-eyed expression. In their reality, they’re eviscerating aliens with armour piercing rounds and rocket-propelled grenades. They’re engrossed because of their suspension of disbelief – they’ve allowed their virtual world to become real. With each click of their joystick they get more sucked in, and lose themselves to a fantasy of a heightened sense of control over their environment.
When I think of hard-core gamers, I’ve got to try hard to hide my contempt for what I think is a pure waste of time. But that’s not the takeaway lesson here. That analogy was used because all of us operate in our own makeshift reality. The game worlds we engross ourselves in help us establish rules of play, effective game strategy, and a subjective scoring of your performance and progress. Yes, very much like a gamer – except we’re not in front of a monitor.
Of course the picture I’m trying to establish is that the corporate or business world, like a game, has distinct rules of play, strategy, and performance measures. Stick around long enough in that world, and you’ll find it harder to change hats out of the role you are in.
But that world in which you slave and toil has put blinkers on your eyes. That sales quota, the boardroom meeting, your KPIs, that almost-within-reach year end bonus, etc. Those are all good for one thing and one thing alone. They are there to create an environment to suck you in so you can wholesale your time to an organisation which seeks to only make shareholders richer.
I was part of that world. And I was knocked down from a CxO level position at a listed company by both a pink slip and a home pregnancy test strip. Fate came for me, folks, and it betrayed my own hidden and previously non-verbalised ‘corporate’ notions of the value of a person, stress tolerance, time management, and self-worth.
No, you don’t have to feel bad for me. Once I figured things out, I realised that being a stay at home dad was the most important thing I’ve ever embarked on in my life. I realised that the job I previously treasured wasn’t making me a better person nor was it all that important in the grand scheme of things. What occurred to me was that I couldn’t begrudge my children the solid emotional and intellectual relationship which I am convinced is so central to their future.
It did however take time for me to get to that point. What I suppose put me out of my comfort zone was foundering with the entirely foreign activities of clean poo-ey nappies, scooping puke, feeding, and enjoying cuddles with that little scrap of life.
My personal paradigm shift in childcare came whilst flipping through some parenting book. There was this nagging familiarity perusing that book through my sleep haze. Then it occurred to me all at once. That parenting book really was an all-in-one strategic management, human resource and organisational behaviour book in disguise!
That light bulb moment prompted me to look through my previous life and to resurrect my inventory of skills for a new highly equipped bag of parenting tricks. I was sure just re-applying that knowledge would lift my parenting effectiveness. And I didn’t stop there. I reached further back, drawing from my army training, sporting background, and the sketchy experience of dealing with small furry animals during my youth.
It was as though I was looking at the world through new eyes.
It was not that the world had changed all that much, nor did I really reinvent anything new as a parent. All I knew was that good management skills were more portable than I thought previously possible. And my wild expectations of having to become some different person to nurture a baby were unfounded.
From top down, a ‘simple’ organisation started to appear before my eyes.
- I was COO, and my wife, don’t balk, was CEO.
- My parents and in-laws became shareholders; some more outspoken and opinionated than others.
- My sister-in-law and husband were co-Marketing VP who I lobby for support and backup against shareholders.
- My sister had to be head of a different regional division with her own agenda.
- Playgroup was a separate business unit.
- The health nurse was the auditor, and of course …
- The baby was my customer; one who communicates without words.
On the ground floor however, customer relationship management took patience and dedication. It wasn’t that the customer wasn’t communicating to you, it was that you had to read every little nuance; everything was between the lines. But there it was in very simple terms. And because this is your only high net worth account, you are going to try your best to figure out what the customer wants. When you can read your customer, you can then decide how best to service the account.
So I’ve now travelled a bit in a circle. And I catch myself sometimes when I sit and stare at the bub. Engrossed. In the moment. And happy.
Colin Wee was a former business executive dealing with IT and E-commerce companies over three continents since the mid 90s. He is now engaged in a startup company SuperParents http://www.superparents.com.au focusing on parents and caregivers. You can find him and support him at http://www.facebook.com/superparents.
- Stay-At-Home Dads: A Recession Effect or Positive Choice? (zestnzen.wordpress.com)