"You gotta stop wearing your wishbone where your backbone ought to be." -- Elizabeth Gilbert
"Kid, you'll move mountains." -- Dr. Seuss
Entrepreneurs are reportedly often told as children and young adults that they have to "color inside the lines" and "go with the flow," only to disobey. They are often the ones who grow up to embrace the startup life. They are the ones who actively work to "get rid of the box" as Deepak Chopra suggests, not just think outside of it. These entrepreneurs embark on a profitable and meaningful quest to connect the dots differently, and positively exploit opportunity differently. Entrepreneurs subsequently either pursue customers looking for a particular solution to a problem, or pivot. So that we create our own supply and demand chain; both of which I've done and seen others do too. I believe that both are required of us in this digital age and collaborative economy.
An unconventional mindset and course of action can help modern entrepreneurs get the creative juices flowing, which is a good thing. But it can also cause miscommunication when networking -- professionally and personally. This is an era of discontent for many single professional women looking for answers re: finding love and marriages that are fulfilling and empowering. It's thus disconcerting to see mobile technology like the new dating app, League, reinforce the herd mentality and discount the dangers of first impressions.
Thanks to social media and the blogosphere, many of us can get virtual mentorship on a plethora of topics. Topics relevant to the work/life balance seesaw that most busy professionals and entrepreneurs are sitting on. We can find a myriad of posts with helpful strategies to maintain momentum and multi-task, and lists of tips to retain optimism, a sense of humor and vision. All while retaining the essence of our company mission, and the legacy we want to leave behind.
We live in a world that still questions the validity of women leadership, let alone independence. Many still look askance at women entrepreneurs and laugh about the different "hardwiring" of women's brains. Women still wonder aloud if they "can have it all". If they are actually co-pilots in their relationships or on the sidelines.
Can women entrepreneurs flip the script re: work/life balance? Yes!
How? By rethinking the parameters of work and how to leverage it to create a more balanced life. By not only rethinking which balls in the air to mindfully juggle, but which one to watch up front while doing all the juggling!
I would like to suggest three strategies for today's woman entrepreneur, from someone who's lived them. Who has learned them over time, through personal trial and error, and by having countless conversations with the sisterhood. My experiences have reinforced my belief in the power of self-education, keen observation and good, old-fashioned practice!
1. Get your own advisory board... for your life!
Entrepreneurs, especially female ones in the shared economy, understand the importance of strategic, two-way collaboration. We know the value of having team members who share our vision, passion and, oftentimes, workload. Just like an entrepreneur is told to have an advisory board for their venture, it is crucial for women founders to have a personal advisory board, not just friends "in the same boat" or who are "sounding boards." Have a team of capable people, chosen from both genders and age ranges, and from different entry points in life. A cross-section of people who can objectively and intelligently help us stay on track re: goals, priorities, and trajectory of daily routines, not just business aspirations.
2. Discover what makes you authentic, activates your authenticity and use it! Leverage it at home and at work for a more meaningful and satisfying life!
Entrepreneurs will often tell you how hectic their schedule is. But how much time is wasted on posturing or worse, pleasing others who don't deserve it? How much time do women spend on tasks which increase "busyness" but not actual productivity? How often does our inner perfectionist rise to the surface, interfering with our happiness, decision making, and resiliency? Being authentic is not just a byproduct of the growing social media movement of transparency. It is the catalyst for forming ecosystems by connecting with others whose message resonates with yours; inwardly and outwardly. Being authentic helps people balance humanity and technology in a society obsessed with reinvention, selfies and subterfuge.
3. "Parse" on purpose! Think of yourself as both the artist and architect of your canvas, and of your life!
Find ways to use your thoughts and deeds to creatively tackle big projects and deadlines. Try chunking, circumventing, delegating and relegating objects/experiences/people in your life. So that you can take tasks apart and put them back together in new, unexpected and often better ways than before. So that you approach every endeavor and interaction from a position of strategic strength. Where you fully accept responsibility for your actions, and seek out people and experiences which complement the real you. Which align with your holistic view and overall approach to how you do things, and what you want to accomplish; personally and professionally.
February, especially the Day That Shall Not Be Named at the end of this week, is always a time when relationships become fodder for consumerism. Remembering that we date like we buy is crucial. It is also crucial to remember that for the busy entrepreneur, understanding buyer personae and needs are too. Applying that knowledge to one's significant other is what will really instill 50 shades of satisfaction and good will.
In the immortal words of astronaut Neil Armstrong who flipped the script about space travel: "This is one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."