Word meme

Jul. 21st, 2009 09:51 pm
[personal profile] twovectors
Reply to this meme by yelling "Words!" and I will give you five words that remind me of you. Then post them in your LJ and explain what they mean to you.


[livejournal.com profile] atreic gave me

Mathematics

Mathematics is something I was always comfortable with – when I was small I used to ask for sums to do rather than a story at bed time, and when I was travelling in the car I would suddenly call out a number and it transpired I had added up the digits of a phone number on a sign or something similar. It just seemed to make sense to me and each time I found a new bit it would fit in a gap I had previously found. This was probably at its peak at A-level – or first year University where I really felt on top of what I was doing while simultaneously charging through new territory at a good pace also.

Even now I find I still have that comfort with maths – it may not be what it was but I find I can see how things would react when you change something. The inter-dependencies, the dance of the numbers, how X will mean Y without ever having to do the sum. It annoys me sometimes when I am forced to do a long laborious task just to show what I could see in a second to a sceptical person.

This last maybe my greatest weakness in a work context – impatience, not considering the audience, pitching things wrong. It probably means I could not be a teacher, although I have done maths tuition when younger (between 16 and 18) – one on one I can gauge reaction, re-pitch the idea, find the way in. Writing, or to a group it is harder. When I give training at work it is in smaller groups of equals and the interaction is probably better, although not perfect.


Fatherhood

This is something I am learning all the time – as Liz and the children are teaching me. Hard work, but nothing beats the beam of a one year old who is pleased to see you. Mini things! Mini things niiice.

What am I good at? Well I am playing a lot of the traditional father’s role – the more physical play (picking them up, twirling them around, playing football by swinging them at the ball…), the silliness – I do a lot of entertaining by silly activities – at dinner going past the door way with silly walks, pretending to be a deflating balloon wooshing round the room, ending up nibbling noses, giving rides on shoulders (called Ba ba da ba as I tend to do the William Tell overture while doing it), giving hugs and reading to them – Daniel will tend to revert to asking for those if other things don’t work as we rarely if ever deny them to him.

I need to work at consistency, sticking by what I say, and making decisions about what they can do when they ask. I also need to work on helping Liz more when both babies are demanding her. I have problems just looking after them as they play – I need to be doing something to occupy my mind so I get bored quickly, and hence tired walking them round the house or waiting for them to finish dinner.

It is very nice when they want you, sometimes only mummy will do: "Mummy come help me get rid of Daddy" (Daniel when I was checking on him at bedtime)


Money

I am slightly worried this is one of my words in some ways. I don’t think this is something I want to make people think of when they think of me.

I earn more than I ever thought I would and a younger age than I ever thought I would. It is nice not to have to worry so much about it. I am slightly bemused about what I earn as I cannot believe my skill set is that rare - I feel most of my friends list could be taught to do my job in about a year, or at least the mathematical ones. I don't earn anything like what the bankers earn, and what they do does not seem that special, beyond ridiculous hours so there is more amazement that there is still more room above!

I am still amazed at various bits of economics that don’t seem to make sense to me –

e.g. a recent BBC article put the top 1% of wage earners at around £100k – so who is buying the £600k houses then? £100k won’t pay for them and it seems to me that there are too many of said houses compared to the earners.

Who was wiling to pay £300/hr for my time (my charge out rate) at my former job, when I was paid less than I am now? How can that make sense? What is happening to the money? (I only got a fraction of that!)


Readthroughs

I enjoyed the ones of these we did when we did single plays that I knew, and therefore could perform. I very much enjoyed Earnest, Arcadia and a few others. However, I almost never take part in these anymore. I am not a good enough actor to do a major role, and would feel uncomfortable doing one, or even asking for one when there are better people to do them. Also, I have not much interest in just doing smaller roles (although some parts in my favourite plays are worth doing). So I do nothing instead. I might be better at roles in plays I know well.

So I am now child wrangler – which can be difficult when their mother is lying dead on stage…


Career

I started at the national audit office, trained as an accountant, but after a while I found it just too slow and frustrating (I felt like I was working at about 50% capacity, but this still marked me down as a high flyer). I left to join Grant Thornton where I was public sector advisory and gradually moved into financial modelling, really by just doing it when I could. When the modelling team manager left I was asked to step into the team as manager. I then left to go to Balfour Beatty Capital where I bid for public sector work, as head of a modelling team I was employed to set up. I nearly left soon after joining, as I felt that my role was an unnecessary cost without much benefit, but I carved a niche and set up the team, and have saved some serious money in some projects - £4m in one case where I was better at using our model than our advisers. Given we had just given £5m in savings to the public sector without any clear idea of where they were going to come from, this was very welcome.

My career has gone better than it had any right too (see money above), especially considering that I never really pushed. I never asked for a promotion, never asked for a new role, never asked for a payrise. I just did what I did the way I do it and got where I got to. My entire career is an accident.

There is an assumption in large parts of UK workplaces that you have to be ambitious – they look for management qualities in everyone, but not everyone can manage. They assume that only ambition can make people work hard and succeed. Someone once asked me about teachers who made me motivated to get good marks at school. Their assumption was that I must have been pushed to be ambitious, to work hard. (I cannot remember exactly how the conversation went, but this was the gist. It clearly excluded the possibility of parents, but I cannot remember how). I tried (and I think failed as I introduced Aristotle and the Tao at various points) to explain – that no-one had motivated me to try hard - it never occurred to me not to. Someone once attributed this to guilt at not doing something (at the time attributed to the fact that my mum was Catholic) but it was not that. It was never guilt at not doing something, it was just that this is what I did.

This is not expressed very well, but the book the Tao is Silent, by Raymond Smullyan seems to sum up how I find things a lot of the time.

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