Oh the glorious life a business owner. I completely love it. For all its hassle, worries, successes and exhilarating moments…I love it. At its core being a woman business owner, an entrepreneur, an idea generator, a service provider it boils down to living a life of creation every single day.
It has been my good fortune to spend my professional life looking through my lens of a woman, a mother, a wife, a care taker, a professional. Yes, it makes a difference that I am a woman, My lens is different and I own that. And to own that allows me to provide a few brief remarks on a topic I love. Relationship. Thus my title, Every Contact Counts! How To Be An Effective Mentor And Collaborator In The Community.
Step one: “Yagottawanna”
Being a mentor and collaborator is one of many roles a woman is called upon to fulfill. Mentoring and collaborating is often naturally embedded in day-to-day life.
Mentor – An experienced and trusted adviser.
Collaborate – Work jointly on an activity especially to produce or create something.
Relationship is embedded in Mentoring. I relate day-to-day as an experienced and trusted adviser in matters of personal accountability, and I relate in working jointly on an activities to produce or create something.
But to do this, “I”gottawanna. To work myopically in my own endeavor is sometimes so very satisfying. Hours in my office creating, fielding inquiries, follow ups, sales…sometimes when I am asked to emerge and give someone my singular focus and time in mentoring and collaborating…I don’t wanna. And to me a mentor and a collaborator…I would posit that “yagottawanna”!
My very first mentor did not know she wanted to be my mentor. I was scouring local business magazines back in the day of my first company, intensely interested in leadership in healthcare, wanting to be in the healthcare space, noticing how many women were employed in that industry. And one day I found her. She was the CEO of a healthcare managed care company. I picked up the phone and called. “Hi I’m Linda and I would like to meet with you to find out if you would be willing to mentor me. I am in need of a CEO perspective as it pertains to my material and connecting it to a healthcare audience and especially a woman’s point of view of the pain points in the industry. I want to understand how to speak to those pain points so I can sell my speaking and consulting into the healthcare market space.” I think I was talking really fast. When I finished…dead silence. I realized later she did not know she wanted to do this. To be my mentor. I helped her understand that she did. We both gained a great deal from it and often laughed about that first call. But when it came to my first ask, I’ll admit, I was scared.
I could have been rejected. I wasn’t really sure what I was asking for. I did not have my head wrapped around what “Mentor” meant. So now after more than 20 years in being an accountability consultant, educator, coach, activist and speaker I remember, that when someone calls me, they may feel this way. Which brings me to step two of how to be an effective mentor and collaborator in the community.
Yeah…I know…that’s a little counterintuitive. But I mean it in the best possible way. Our time is our livelihood. Time converts our energy into money. That money can be used to keep things going while we shift our attention to time spent mentoring and collaborating. But time is a finite resource and when we over commit and get into overwhelm we have to be willing to solve this by being something we may not want to be, selfish. Selfish so we can practice self care. So sometimes, I need to say “no” and not fear how others will take it. In integrity, my selfishness is to be sure that what I am handling and giving my time and attention to keeps me somewhat balanced. Though I’ve stopped chasing the whole “balanced” thing as I have come to discover I like some of the “hair on fire” aspects of business ownership sometimes to the point I admittedly create it. When it is impacting others negatively, most likely my family. That’s when I pull back.
In pulling back I know it is time to be introspective and see its time to practice a little selfishness so I can move closer to self-less-ness. Again, a bit counterintuitive, but it is how I remember to look inward. It is time for truth telling about what is going on and what I need and often I emerge with the need to collaborate, to work jointly on an activity, to produce or create something with others. This brings me to step three on how to be an effective mentor and collaborator. I’ll cover step three in my next post. You’ll love Step 3. It has to do with hugging : ).