Keeping the focus on what really matters


This week’s content features a real life story where the realisation about what is truly
important in life comes into stark relief.
My niece, Amy Rodden is a lawyer at Air New Zealand and has held a number of corporate
roles, so is well used to dealing with stressful situations.

Amy and her husband Richard Rodden were ecstatic at the prospect of their first baby’s
imminent arrival. I’ll let Amy tell the story, but William’s early entrance to the world on 7
October was the precursor to a very challenging period.

“We recently had a 17 night stay at Starship Hospital with our 5 and a half week old son,
William. William had surprised us all by arriving 5 weeks ahead of his due date (and 3 weeks
ahead of when I was due to finish work).

Initially discharged, we were happily at home when William started having episodes while
feeding where he seemed to stop breathing. Before we knew it we found ourselves in the
Paediatric Intensive Care Unit at Starship, with William undergoing all manner of tests as
they tried to get to the bottom of what was happening.

Reflecting on our time in hospital I think the most stressful element was the uncertainty -
both in not knowing what was wrong with William but also the uncertainty that I continued to

feel in my role as a first time mum (still very much riding the rollercoaster of hormones with a
bit of sleep deprivation thrown in for good measure).

For me personally, it was the support network that I had around me that kept me going. I
learnt very quickly not to be afraid to lean on that network to help in whatever capacity they
could so that we could focus on William who was our number one priority. They also gave
me the support I needed in order to feel empowered to speak up, to ask questions and to
call out things which didn’t seem quite right - all of which helped me feel more in control of
the situation.

Having the extra support also gave me time to self reflect and recognise when stress was
getting the better of me. If even only for 15 minutes, taking a short break to go and get some
fresh air and a coffee meant that I could clear my head and refocus on what was important.
Our experience has reinforced to me the importance of taking the time to self reflect and to
look at the bigger picture as, in a prolonged high stress environment, it is very easy for the
small things to overwhelm you and take your focus away from what really matters. It has
also taught me that your own intuition is a wonderful thing and you shouldn't be afraid to
follow it!”

Great advice from Amy and I am pleased to report William is now thriving and was the star
attraction at our family Christmas Day celebrations.

In her video chat, Frances Valintine talks about dealing with stress, provides some
suggestions for making the transition back into the workforce, describes how she managed
her workload with young children and shares her strategy for getting blocks of quiet time
where she can focus on deep thinking and generating new ideas.
Silvana Schenone gives her insights on resilience, breaking down a workload into
manageable chunks and her impression of the women with children who are part of her legal

I hope you enjoy and get some benefit from this week’s update.

Joan Withers.