When you work with your dad...

It seems an appropriate day to share a story about my dad.

Soon, I'll fill you in a bit on why there's been two weeks of silence... but right now it's a space for a story about my dad.

Or rather, a story about my dad and me.

Of both of us, of a period of 15 months where we were both father and daughter, and boss and employee.

When I first graduated, I worked for my dad for just under a year and a half, and in that period we learned a lot about each other and about ourselves.

Not only were there new boundaries to navigate, and the need to establish that line between work time and family time, but I was in a period where I was struggling.

Towards the end of university was when my anxiety first decided to properly rear its head, and the Sophie that was working with dad then was not the Sophie of now or the Sophie of six months before.

I was cautious. I was apologetic, I had forgotten what my talents were, where my strengths lay and how strong I could be.

We were trying to figure out how to negotiate this period as a family and as a business, and trying to learn where on earth the turning point could be.

At one point during this period, he did a bit of a fatherly 'coaching' chat, and told me to write down ten positive adjectives to describe myself and my abilities.

I struggled to come up with even a few.

He turned a page to show me his own list. I was ambitious, hard-working, intelligent... ten words that sounded like a person I wanted to be. I had forgotten I was that person.

Fast forward a few months, and we were at an exhibition in Liverpool.

My counselling sessions were starting to have an effect, and as a family we were continuing to work through both my anxiety and our working relationship.

I was anxious on the car journey, but when we arrived the event started to remind me what I'm good at. That exhibition atmosphere, busy and crowded and intense and long - all things I had been so carefully avoiding - is also an atmosphere in which I thrive.

My previous experience in similar settings was shining through and I was happily manning the stand, approaching anyone and everyone and chatting easily about our work.

My dad spent the time attending talks and networking, safe in the knowledge I was overseeing the stand. When we got back to the office, we realised our roles and our strengths.

That couple of days had shaken us up and distributed us into our positions. It was a moment of clarity for both of us.

More important to me than that journey, though, were the things I learned about my dad while working for and alongside him.

Here are the five which were the biggest and best, in my eyes:

1. He will always get the job done. However long he has to work or however many people he has to get to step in and help or however boring the brief may be, he will always deliver work of the highest quality.

2. He might work last minute, but the adrenaline works. My dad is the man who you will find on his laptop at 5am because he's decided to get up early and finish that presentation he's giving at 10. For me, that sounds stressful, but for him it works. Bonkers as I sometimes think he is, there's something about that pressure of the deadline that makes him work.

3. Running your own company is hard. I always knew this, but during this period I SAW it. There's no one but you to chase those invoices, keep those jobs rolling in, make sure work is done to the best standard. It gave me such a deep understanding of exactly what my dad deals with daily, and has done for over twenty years. I can share his pain and celebrate his successes even more, because I know what went into getting there.

4. Clients (and fellow workers) can be a nightmare. Really, this is true everywhere, but I learned it here. Sometimes, you have to work with people or clients who are downright tricky. I could use more colourful language but I won't. The point is, it's a life lesson, and one that dad of mine copes with well.

5. He's the best dad in the universe. Whether work was going well or badly, whether we were at work or home, whether things in my personal life were making me happy or sad, and when my anxiety was making me an absolute pain in the bum, he was there. Always has been and still is now. I think since working together our relationship has just got even better.


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