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Finding the expiration date, as a CEO & a mom

Mandy Drury

Every week night around 7pm, my pulse suddenly elevates and my heart constricts. It's the hour that the red folder comes out, and the reams of paper with involved instructions appear.

It's homework time. I stress out about homework more than the kids do. Why? It's because it's honest-to-God, quite tricky. And despite reassuring myself that I'm a smart, educated woman, my kids' 4th and 6th grade homework makes me feel inadequate.

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Take math. I'm actually pretty sure that when I help with math, the boys get a worse grade. For punctuation problems, my standard phrase is, "hmmm, let's Google it, shall we?", as American rules are different from Australian. And when asked simple grammar questions like, "which is the pronoun, and which is the sub-pronoun?" I'm keenly aware my face is a blank bunny-in-headlights stare. As for computer help… well, my skills are more suited to a 1982 Apple Lisa. 'nuff said. The kids are still young enough to not openly call me out, but it's clear the day is approaching when they will think less of me. And to make matters worse, it makes them distrust the subjects where I *am* competent.

This is the point of no return, and it also applies to CEOs and politicians. Once having lost the faith of the public or employees, it's hard to win back, even when the right path of action is taken. We all know some CEOs who arguably stayed long past their prime. And even once-great and iconic companies, like Eastman Kodak and Blockbuster Video, that stuck around until the stage when people took pity on them. Better to go out at the top of your game, like GE's Jack Welch and Intel's Andy Grove.

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I'd love to wipe my hands of homework forever with the excuse, "I'm going out on top", but I'm afraid it's my lot in life as a mum. Besides, it's the natural order of things that every child reaches an age where he or she surpasses the parents in certain skills, (or at least think they do). But was hoping it might not be so soon!