Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Building a Community for Support

Support that thing you think you have until you need. People think you don’t need support because they see that you are getting on and getting the job done! Such a vicious cycle.

One thing my partner said when we found out we were pregnant was that it was going to be super hard as we did not have much family close by. There was my brother who was fabulous in the early days but that was all. At the time my stubborn self went ‘we can do it. It is just a baby’. In reality I should have taken his words and looked for my support community.

I did find some support in a women business network I was part of in Ballarat, but it was short lived. I have also found good support in a national networking group for mums. These have accepted I am a mum and allowed me to bring my daughter if needed. But they didn’t help when the pressure cooker was on and I needed hands on help with baby or home. That I have had to either work through or pay someone.

Recently I was ill and we couldn’t find a babysitter and we missed out on a business opportunity. I let people down and it didn’t sit well with me – in fact I was angry. What I realised was that I had to create a ‘community’ that I could call on to help me out when needed, and that I could help them also. I put a call out on social media and yes I got an amazing response…I had my community. People I was not afraid to ask for help from.

It is interesting that in Western society’s we believe we have to do it all alone, to be super parent, super business person, domestic god – no support, no asking for help. Yet in Eastern societies children are brought up by a village. Interesting thought…..

I am not a person to ask for help. And I usually wait until I crash and burn prior to seeking help. Each time I have crashed and burned since the business met the baby, I have reached out and asked for help or more specifically I have paid someone. At first it was staff to try and pick up my workload, then it was a babysitter to enable me to have dedicated time to work, then childcare, then a cleaner, then it was reducing my workload altogether and defining and focusing on core business.

Focusing on core business – and defining what it was that I wanted to achieve for me was the key to gaining clarity for both myself and the business. To start thinking in the way that if I was giving my time away to someone, especially if they did not appreciate that time, and it was not core business, that I would rather give that time to my family. To be clear about what I wanted to achieve in the business. When it came to meeting commitments in the business that were about achieving the goals then I needed to call on my support community.

While my support community 4 years ago would have been very different to the one that I have created today, I still would have reached out and asked for help or at least accepted the help when people offered it. I read in the books that if you were to visit a new mother/family then the best thing you could do was help with the housework, washing, cooking or not stay for too long. And it is so true. The best visitors I had after Sophie was born was one who brought 4 meals worth of soup, packed individually and ready to freeze and one who put her family on a time limit of 20 minutes.
I also realised that just because I to 4 months to catch up with someone – was probably the next best thing I could do other than cooking a meal or 2 for them!

If you don’t have a reliable support network around you then you need to create one. If you are to continue to run a business and meet the needs of that, then there will be times that circumstances fall out of your control and you need the extra little bit of support.

How do you get support? Or do you not reach out and ask for it?

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