I went through a single-sex education in the grammar school system, where it was drummed into us that we can achieve anything, as long as we are polite, prepared and hard-working (and obviously not wearing black bra under a white shirt).
Having this outlook on life gives you a sense of empowerment, a feeling that there is no need to be restricted by your gender but in some ways can lead to a generation of women who are so determined to do it themselves that they find it hard to accept help or support in both their work and personal lives.
Now, I’m not a feminist by any means, I believe men and women to be both equal and complimentary to each other. Research would suggest that each has their own strengths and weaknesses based on their DNA and experts in their field such as Sir Robert Winston have written books about how best to use your natural abilities in life. The BBC2 Horizon programme was also fascinating – showing some of the typical traits of both ‘male’ and ‘female’ brains – but more importantly showing that these are not necessarily based on the body you have been born into!
Some men are fantastically in tune with emotions, cry at movies and having the nurturing nature that makes them great carers, perceptive to the needs of others.
Some women are determined, analytical and struggle with the inter-personal stuff – although they can read maps and reverse park – never jump to conclusions!
I covered in a previous blog post the importance of teaming up with people who have strengths that you don’t and the benefits for your business – now I want to talk more about your support network – the people that you surround yourself with.
Jim Rohn once said “You are the average of the 5 people that you spend the most time with”.
How do you feel about that? Take 2 minutes to write down the names of the 5 people that you have spent the most time with over the last week / month.
Are the people on your list those that share your vision and will offer you practical and emotional support to help you achieve what you want in life? Would you do the same for them?
I’m not saying that you need to emigrate or dump your friends/husband if they don’t share your values, but you should realise that over time we all grow and develop and our needs change. Your best pal from Scouts may not now be the ideal person to help you grow your business or work towards your dream. If you have family members or friends that are negative whingers, it may be time to (gently) start to move away from spending all your free time with them and direct your attentions elsewhere.
Look for other positive people.
This will drive your personal development on to the next level, enabling you to be the best possible version of you. Look for people in your industry that you admire and have had success, try to be the little fish in the big pond – they will encourage you, and give you support without being threatened by you if you ask for their help.
Joining with Blueprint Southwest at the end of 2012, helped my business skyrocket to where it is now as it gave me the opportunity to learn from some of the most sucessful Financial Advisers in the UK. The flexibility to run my own business, but with 20 or so qualified and experienced colleagues that can offer an insight based on their experience, all at the end of a phone. It also gave me the opportunity to then to be introduced to their contacts, including CEOs and others prominent in the industry. You can’t buy that.
Coupled with a change in circumstances at home in 2013, I have never felt more supported on my journey – and this is what keeps me going on the days when it all seems to fall apart – yes, I have days like that too!
It is usual for successful people who are progressing well and well-respected in their careers to have coaches, mentors or to be part of mastermind groups. This provides support and accountability, spurring them on to the next level.
Some of these people you may know already from networking events that you have been to, or from their online presence, and it may be time to get back in touch. You may have no relevant contacts and need to actually step outside of your comfort zone and sign up to an event – a business expo, networking meeting or similar.
You could just call some successful business owners that you know and offer to take them out for a coffee. Pick their brains and get some suggestions about others to make contact with. Most will be happy to spare you some of their time, as they enjoy helping others move towards success. You may even want to set up your own mastermind group.
In time you may want to invest in yourself and your business by working with a coach on a professional basis. If you’d like to chat about how coaching has helped me, please get in touch.
And if you read this article searching for a different kind of support altogether – consider getting yourself properly measured for a bra – and treat yourself to something new!