Last Thursday, I told my office I would be leaving early.
“But I’ll still be working,” I said, “So you can still call or email me.”
My son was running in his school’s cross country that day, and had suddenly decided that I must be there to see it.
Never mind that it was a twenty-minute event that I would only see the very start and the very end of. But I went – cheered for him as he took off and as he crossed the finish line – and in the meantime sat around with the other working mothers (mostly) and fathers answering emails and making calls.
It was all worth it to see that extra bit of pride in my son’s face when he saw me supporting him.
“I wanted to smash it because I knew you were there,” he later told me.
I was proud and he was proud of himself. Sure, I missed a couple of hours of work between the drive there and the drive back, not to mention the inefficiency of working from a phone screen in the glaring sun.
I suppose this could be an article about the difficulties of being a woman with a family and a career, and although I couldn’t help but notice that lots of the parents who were roped into attending were, in fact, mothers – it wasn’t my biggest take away from the day.
For me, it was the way my son was encouraged by my support even when he had turned the corner and I was out of sight. He knew I had come to see him off, and he knew I would be there to see him cross the finish line. And in between, he’d done all the work.
Sometimes as leaders – whether in the home or in the office – we can be inclined to think that our juniors shouldn’t need to see our support. Especially in the legal industry, which is highly competitive and usually high-stakes, it can seem ridiculous that fully fledged lawyers are asking us to be their cheerleaders.
But as my son taught me, support doesn’t need to always be visible, but sometimes it does.
Even if you’re only cheering at the start and the finish line, you’ll be encouraging them to run a little faster.