Owning who you are – Positive Self-Reflection in the Workplace

“You really bring the wider picture when you come to work with us.”

” You are a true inspiration, I really feel your passion (for the subject of safeguarding) “

These are a couple of things that have been fed back to me in my travels this week. For those who know me, you know I’m no shrinking violet, but I have noticed that I have started to listen more keenly to what people are saying and I am also taking ownership of it:
Yes, I am committed and passionate about the safety and welfare of children. Yes, I do truly believe bringing respect to the way that we relate to children, their parents and each other as professionals,makes the difference to our success. Yes, I accept that I and my team do inspire a real interest and passion for the work.

So, what’s the point here? Well, what I am talking about is a ‘live’ capacity to reflect on ourselves and to look at what we bring to our work. Children, their parents and fellow practitioners know if we like them or not – but do we like ourselves and appreciate our skills, capacities and very personal qualities? If we are fully aware of them, we can truly harness them and bring them as tools to our trade.

So, ask yourself, what do people say of you when you are not there? How are you known?
• Are you the deeply thoughtful, quieter but very insightful team member, who encourages questions and active debate?
• Are you ‘Sensitive’ ? You pick up the feelings and emotional content for people, even before they realise it themselves, (like one of my team members)?
• Or are you the central pin in your team? You unite and harmonise the team?

Are you like the Educationalist in the secondary school sector I met this week, the person that brings insight to the lives of Young People looked after in care? This person spent sections of their own childhood in care and is a committed advocate for those who traditionally have been left behind in Education. They bring a deep spiritual drive to their work in a large school and actively enquirs not only about about the happiness and interests of Young People ‘looked after’ but also about the ‘left behind, withdrawn or non-demanding pupils’. This person has self-reflected and dealt powerfully with the effects of their own past and fully ‘owns’ the passion and commitment to their work.

In my travels ‘out east’ this week I met the representative for Early Years Services on a Local Safeguarding Children Board. She owns her commitment to having an uncompromising stand for the vulnerability of the youngest children and babies to be recognised. She and her equally committed team, have played a key part in 80% of the Early Years settings in the area assessed by Ofsted as good or outstanding. This woman – ‘Lady C’ as I will affectionally refer to her – has, ‘muscled’ her way onto the Safeguarding Board (in the nicest possible way) and is transforming professional services respect for the Early Years Sector. Lady C, I celebrate you and your heartfelt passion for the protection of small children in your area, for the inspiring team you have built and for the success of your endeavors. Your gentle, but straight approach will exist in the area, well after you are no longer there.

So, I invite you to look to yourself …. what do you celebrate and own in yourself? And after we have looked at ourselves, look outside of you. Who are you inspired by? Who are you modelling aspects of your work on? Tell them and let’s celebrate the amazing people around us!

I am not suggesting we are boastful here, but truthful, in owning up to who we really are and the difference we can make. Let’s get talking.

Oh, by the way, I came home to a copy of the Jan/Feb copy of Nursery Management Today, last night. It includes one of my most recent articles. I am proud of myself for finding the time to write!

Catherine Rushforth