My daughter just excitedly, and with a little trepidation, shared that she scored 5th highest in the class in a recent maths test. I decided to be express happiness for her “success” knowing full well that there would be more to the story. I expressed happiness outwardly because that is what we do in our house, being a house blessed with Asperger’s as a permanent guest. Then came the rest of the story. She was 5th in the class, highest among “normal peoples grades”, there was room for improvement, some kids got a very low percentage while some like her got around the appropriate passing mark, and her frenemy got a very high grade. I asked if she’d tried hard and studied and she replied in the affirmative, and reminded me that this result was 14% points higher than her last test result.
Now, here’s the rub. I wanted to tell her off for only getting an average grade. But, she’s chosen to enter in to a male dominated industry as her career choice and I’ve witnessed one persistent observation time after time in my work life. It is this….
Men blag it.
They just make it up.
They spin the story time after time.
They just make up why this result is the best that could possibly have been achieved under these circumstances and how heroic they are to have entered the arena and look at how brainy they are, even when the evidence points to the fact that this may not be true. All The Time. They are invited to apply for jobs for which they are not qualified nor have experience and they go for it and learn on the hoof. They give it a shot and in doing so go a great deal farther a great deal faster.
So, I’m giving Missy a few opportunities to test her wings in this method. She has to have the backup of study and application, she has to be improving, she has to have a great attitude, but I’m giving her opportunities to hear her own voice even when I want to go all womany and tell her that there should have been greater effort and application… there will be time for that… she knows that her grade wasn’t perhaps as great as we’re saying.
I am going to let her spin her story and know that she has to work harder next time. I hope that this continues to imbue a thrust toward constant improvement. But really, in the grand scheme of things, that’s not really my problem. I am here to develop with her the skills necessary to succeed and provide for herself in the workplace. If talking about why your product is something that the other person really should need or want, or talking about why your company should be selected to win the contract is to continue to be a desired skill, she will have started to test the waters of Spin in the Whyte House as a teen.
She’s a great kid, she studies a great deal, she’s overcome a great deal and she’s applying herself. I’m here to help her continue to improve and be able to articulate the validity of her efforts and attainments as we go along. She’ll be great. If one middle of the road passing grade helps her find her “how can I break this news so that they’re still pleased” skill set, so be it.
To be clear, I’m making up this parenting of a kid thing as I go along and the jury is out but we’ll see how it pans out over the next 20 years. Fingers crossed.