The wisdom of my 7yo son & my annual review



Something wondrous happened recently. I was sitting staring at a blank page, thinking about what to write for my annual performance appraisal when Eldest walked in wanting to know what I was doing. His advice not only showed me how much he has learnt about what it takes to engage other people in the past year, it also helped me get a start on my self-assessment.


I dread having to write my performance self-assessment. The challenge of summarising what I have achieved in the past year in a way which highlights to my manager  (who does not directly work with me) my great successes. This year was no different. I was stumped and my mind was all over the place when my son walked in.

To him the answer was simple - I should approach it in the same way he approaches making up stories.

First I had to think about all the boring bits which people don't want to know, and then think about the exciting things that will conquer that.  I should also remember that even though there are downsides, there are things to make it go up again.

even though there are downsides, there are things to make it go up again

Now I should explain that Eldest struggles with social interaction and communication, and understanding that other people have thoughts and feelings which can be different from his own. School have been doing a lot of work with him on this, so I can only assume that this is where his wisdom to me stems from.

I had never really thought of my performance appraisal as a story before, and so I gave it a try. This is what I did.

My story. I wrote the story of my year which focused on the key events over the course of the year,  and all the things that I had achieved.

Boring vs. Exciting. I re-read my story to think about which parts someone else would think was boring or exciting. Where I only had boring bits, I tried to think about the exciting things I had done that helped conquered them.

Challenging times. I also thought about the challenging times that I had faced, and what I had done to overcome them.

Making it go up. For the future I thought about my development points, and that things that I want to focus on to help me "make it go up" next year.

Not quite your standard approach to writing your self-assessment, but it did help me to remember that my performance appraisal is more than a checkbox exercise required to get an end of year rating. It isn't about a list of tasks or activities that I have performed, or about trying to mention every detail about the past year.  It's my personal story. My highs, my lows and my growth over the past year. It is about telling my story in a compelling way with consideration of the "exciting things" that my appraisers are most interested in.

In his own way, Eldest was able to help me to overcome the mental block that I had been experiencing. He also helped me approach it in a more personal way. so that those assessing me will be able to get a little glimpse of the real me. Fingers crossed that this year it is a best seller!

As for Eldest, I hope that he will apply some of his own thinking to the way in which he tries to engage with others. After all, conversations aren't that different from storytelling and require plenty of thinking about what other people are likely to be interested in.



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