Vote for Jo Pavey!

Posted on Sep 30, 2014 in Francis Christie News, Learning & Development, Personal Development

Jo Pavey gets my vote. She is an inspiration to many working mums. She is also an inspiration to me as a working dad. What we share is our experience of struggling with balancing the demands of work with the demands of having a young family. She is, I think, an inspiration for all of us.

picture of Jo Pavey, holding up the UK flag

Gold Medal Winner

I reached a critical cross-roads in my career. In one dimension, I was very successful and had achieved business goals that were very important to me. In another dimension, I was away from home so much that I was conscious I was ‘loosing it’ with my family. So, I am inspired by the approach that Jo and her husband, Gavin, have taken with wanting to have children and wanting to be successful in her professional life.

She tried managing her training in the conventional route where your life is dictated by the need for two training sessions every day. Then Jo suffered a series of injuries, had several seasons off and finally had to have surgery on her knee. It looked like her career was over. So, she studied for a degree in physiotherapy to give herself another career.

In November 1996, Jo and Gavin went backpacking around the world. They thought it would be fun to train while travelling and ran everywhere from running up volcanoes to running on the beach. When she came back she qualified and then won the British National title for 1500 metres.

Then, at the age of forty, it all came together for her. First, with her silver medal in Glasgow, at the Commonwealth Games. Then in Zurich, at the European Championships, where she won a gold medal in the 10,000m. Two laps from the end, Jo tucked in behind the French runner, Clemence Calvin. Then,when she got to the final straight she kicked, gave it all that she could and won. See BBC Interview with Jo.

So, what can we learn from Jo that we can all apply in the world of work? I have four lessons that I’ve learned from her story:

Jo keeps to her plan to run 100 miles a week

Jo keeps to her plan to run 100 miles a week

  1. Choose the priorities that really matter to you.“Being a mum is a greater priority,” she says. “Being a mum makes me feel happy every day. I feel very happy and complete – it’s just the most wonderful thing to become a mum.” See:  Jo’s interview in The Independent.
  2. Organise your life and work to suit you. Don’t let other people’s limited views of ‘what work is’ limit your ability to get the right balance for you. “People imagine I must be really organised to do what I do with two young children but I’m not. I’m just really flexible. I make sure I do my training every day, including weekends, but what time I do it is quite random and will depend on the children’s needs.”  See Jo’s interview in The Telegraph;
  3. Enjoy other people’s successes. In Jo’s case, other athletes did it the way ‘it should be done’. They stuck to the training plans and training camps and had success earlier in life than Jo.  She was delighted when her room-mate, Dame Kelly Holmes, ‘did the double’ in 2004. They celebrated with hot chocolate. See Jo’s Interview in The Independent;
  4. Give it all you’ve got, run your own race and enjoy the experience. Perhaps the medal is incidental to knowing that ‘you don’t regret anything’. See BBC Interview with Jo.

Jo has earned the love and respect of her colleagues and competitors. I think she’s also earned the love and respect of a much wider community. There are many of us who want to believe that there is joy and fulfilment in putting your family first and still working out how to be a ‘winner’.

Thank you, Jo!

If this story touches you, then vote for Jo, in The Sunday Times and Sky Sports Sports Woman of the Year Award #SWOTY. See: www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/swoty2014.

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