Waddling slowly but absolutely, definitively, surely towards motherhood, (which, by all medical accounts is due to begin in two days’ time), what I set to be my ‘personal leadership opportunity’ as I sat in Cambridge with my cohort six months ago, all of a sudden seems rather alien to me.
Perhaps this is my fault for being too linear in my thinking back then. I considered my opportunities within a purely professional realm. I forgot that life is more than just what we do for a living and I might actually have some influence in other aspects of my life. In every day life, I barely use the terms ‘leadership’, ‘drive’ or ‘stakeholder’, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t relevant and that they’re not at play during ‘down time’.
So, I sit here staring at my personal leadership opportunity that was set back in September – to influence integration of sustainable value factors into how a FTSE 100 company buys its products and services – and know that in the next 12 months, my time and energy are not going to be focused on that at all. I’ve set the trajectory for achievement, I’ve engaged the relevant stakeholders and I believe I’ve manged to influence and engage those with a role to play so that it will continue in my absence, but I won’t be sure and I don’t feel able (or indeed willing) to focus my energy on assuring that happens.
What I can do, and what every bone (not that I can see them any more) in my body is urging me to do, is rest, nuture and focus entirely on the small person who is about to enter the world. This will be my new leadership opportunity. It can’t really be anything but.
As for the scope of this blog post, I hope that the questions relating to why it matters, and what it means to me would be self-explanatory. It matters because the small person will rely entirely on the support of me and my husband for, well, everything. What it means to me is a point far too lengthy, complex and personal to attempt in a word limited blog post.
There are endless questions that I have about impending parenthood. Some expectations, some hopes and a whole list of concerns, but what I’m most excited about is the opportunity that it presents. In his book ‘Eating Animals’, Jonathan Safran Foer talks about new fatherhood by explaining that ‘everything seemed possible again, the world itself had another chance’. Put in that context, it is surely the greatest leadership opportunity of our time – whether we are parents, friends, aunts, uncles, godparents or teachers, our interaction with the newest members of our population will help to form their own view on the world. Our behaviour will shape theirs, our opinions influence their own and our passions may drive what they themselves spend their life pursuits.
So, how do I intend on using this leadership opportunity for good? At this point, survival is the number one aim. Once we get used to that, I hope to focus on instilling a sense of respect for the world and awe for the environment around. With everything being new, this should not be too difficult. I hope to demonstrate, without fear or concern, that our planet is a delicate thing, one that can and will provide us with everything we need and everything we desire if we treat it well, treat it as a gift and do not take anything, any product, service, smell, sound, touch, or vista for granted. With that baseline understanding, I hope they will take every opportunity to explore, to adventure and to learn and when they get older, take every chance they get to try and make it a little better than how they find it. I’ll promise to lead where I can, and where I can’t, I’ll be sure to follow!