As children, we’re all told to do our best. But very few of us take it to heart.
I’m not trying to say that I was a perfect kid but, looking back, I find that I always tried to do my best.
Upon further reflection, recently guided by therapy, I have found that it was not because of an inherent need to do things perfectly. It was really because of my reaction to the experience of being raised by a single parent.
Let me explain.
Single parents are always criticised. Everywhere. In the media, society in general, even in church. Here in the UK, back home in Zimbabwe, even in Cuba where I trained to become a teacher.
The children of single parents are never expected to do well at anything. Let alone excel. They are expected to be rebels, to present challenging behaviour, to have loose morals. And to be clear, it is almost always single mothers and their children who face this prejudice. Not single fathers.
It’s almost as if society is suggesting that without the presence of a male parent in the home, kids are doomed.
As if women cannot raise happy, successful, well-balanced children?
Anyway, this is not about the battle of the sexes. It’s just the context behind my decision to take to heart the whole “do your best” advice.
I wanted to make my mother proud.
I wanted to show “them” that a single mother can raise children who are well behaved. Who do well in school. Who are responsible, successful, and happy.
Seeing how hard my mother worked for us, I didn’t want to let her down. So that was what drove me to always try and do my best.
However, as I grew older, I realised that even the most dedicated person cannot do their best at everything, all the time. Such is the naïveté of youth. Also, I realised that your best today might not be your best tomorrow. The more you learn and experience, the better your best is.
So I started reviewing what I do. Reflecting upon it all and almost playing it back like you would rewind a TV show to catch something that you missed.
And when I say “everything” I mean everything: how I delivered the last training workshop, my tone of voice on that sales call, how I reprimanded my daughter about something a few minutes ago.
I was evaluating what I had done to see if I could do better. So, it became not only about trying to do my best but also monitoring what I was doing to make sure I did better next time. And I did this with everything. I do this with everything.
Is it any wonder I ended up starting a business which is all about improvement?
In a nutshell, Marell Consulting Limited supports the leaders of non-association independent schools to do what they do well and to do it consistently better, without having to worry about inspections or the Independent School Standards (because we bake that into the systems we build together).
What makes it even more beautiful is that I ended up working with independent schools – they exist because someone wanted to improve something in the education sector.
To start such a school, you have to go through a rigorous process in order to be registered by the DfE. After that, they monitor, regulate and enforce a set of standards that you must meet if you want to maintain your registration and keep the doors open.
Why do people sign up to start these schools?
Because they are unhappy with something in the current education arena. Because they want to provide a better quality of education for pupils with specific needs; pupils of a specific gender; pupils of a specific religion; or generally pupils who have not managed to cope in the existing system.
So, I am someone who is obsessed with doing my best. And consistently doing better. I work with educators who want to improve education so much they start their own schools. Best of all, I get to support them in doing what they do well and help them become consistently better.
How cool is that?