When you talk work, do you talk it up or play it down? What if you have 2 jobs? How I talk about mine depends on the situation and which I think will land jargon-lite on the ears of the listener.
Sometimes I’ll say that I’m a university study skills teacher, working with adults with specific learning differences (SpLDs, like dyslexia, dyspraxia, ADHD, or an Autistic Spectrum Condition (ASC), such as Asperger’s or HFA). If I haven’t drawn a blank look with this, I might go on to explain how, aside from the teaching element of my role, I also screen for learning differences, as well as register students with the uni’s Neurodiversity service. If the colour hasn’t drained from my listener’s face by now, I can go on with details of collaboration: in others’ teaching and learning environments, too. We’re usually talking happy endings, where my consultancy helps academics make their lectures and seminars more inclusive spaces for learning.
In moments of whimsy, I think of myself as a miner. Not the sort of miner that politically took on Maggie T, her curly helmet, and her brick dressed up a handbag. I’m a talent miner; looking for the shiny seams in people. Where their unique and priceless value lies.
I’d like to think that as my own guvnor, I still do just that. I run my own private practice as an executive coach, with a special interest in championing the talents of neurodivergent employees and students. Recent developments within my neurodiversity specialism prompted me to train as an executive coach. I’ve found that the most natural to me of all the models is the solutions-focused approach. It seems to work well with work sponsors, but just as importantly, boosts what the coachee already has to offer, by building on their internal ‘foundations’. This way they use their skills to find solutions within reach, through my listening intently and posing the smartest questions I can.
Ultimately, though, my mission is to connect individuals with their talents. This is no fast-track to complacency because we also spend time locating areas for development. I aim to hardwire neurodivergent employees and students to where they work or study, in my role as catalyst in awareness-raising, either through consultancy, coaching or mentoring parties involved. Without doubt, through this work I link organisations with different faces of innovation, new ways of working and fresh approaches to problem-solving.
Having 2 guv’nors does more than just make me earn more. I learn too. Like how much the question ‘what do you do’ makes my face crumple. One woman; two guv’nors – it’s harder than you think.