How Becoming a Father Changed My Perspective

Martin Cooperwaite - 21/06/2019

When we started the business, it was just the three of us – Cam, Chris and myself. We were all young, in our early twenties, and It seems terribly shallow now, however my life revolved pretty much around working hard, and playing hard. I didn’t really have any family commitments.

Looking back now, I think the things that were important to me at that age would have unfairly influenced my perspective of what I’d be okay with at work with my team. 

For example, if people had family issues or something they had to deal with, I didn’t really get it. Sure I’d say I accepted people requiring time off for a family matter such as a child with a cold, but was I really, authentically ok with it? 

I’m ashamed to say I probably wasn’t.

If I’m honest with myself, there was this underlying air of “c’mon, you’re letting the team down” lurking back then, over two decades ago if we’re counting. However, while having this unsaid eye roll around family issues, if someone had a massive night out and came to work late because they had a hangover, I’d be like “cool, you had a great night, awesome!” and somehow that was more ok. Can you believe it?!

I did not get this unfairness until I went through the experience myself and became a father.

It’s ridiculous when I look back on it, but that was the kind of immature mindset I had and therefore put forward. It wouldn’t have been anything said directly, it would have been indirect, passive aggressive disapproval. Yuck.

Now, as I’ve gone through the family journey myself this mentality has completely changed. 

I now embrace people to focus on their family and have built-in flexibility for when stuff happens without any underlying passive aggression. Now I’m 100% “I get it, I understand, we’re in the same boat, go do what you need to do.”

In addition, I learnt to assess people in my team more ‘holistically’. There will be times when people are going through stuff, there will be times when people are challenged with things, and there will be times when people are not that productive. You can’t assess on a day by day basis, you’ve got to step back and assess over a longer period. 

Just provide the tools, support, and flexibility, and then people do amazing things despite whatever they’re dealing with at home.

So I just want to say sorry to those I may have been too narrow minded and self-centred to, as a brand new leader 24 years ago. If it’s any consolation, I’ve grown a lot and I’m driven to not repeat the same mistakes in the future.

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