To people who are not parents, putting leadership and parenting in the same sentence may seem strange. What do changing diapers, consoling crying toddlers, pumping milk, playing hide and seek (among the many other countless tasks parents do) have anything in common with leadership? A lot, actually.
After 3 years of being a mom, I’m sharing how being a parent has made me a better leader and entrepreneur and how you can incorporate these learnings into your life no matter who you are or what stage of life you’re in.
Tip #1: Prepare to be unprepared
Becoming a parent is like nothing else in this world. You can prepare for it by reading all the books, taking all the classes, talking to all your friends that are parents, visualizing what it's going to be like, but all of those things compared with the reality of becoming a parent are night and day. For me, I knew it was going to be life changing and hard, and amazing, but couldn’t fully comprehend it until my son Sage was put in my arms and my husband and I were sent home 24 hours later. I had prepared for this moment, yet I felt so completely unprepared and had no idea what I was doing. Those first few months were so challenging while also so fulfilling.
I felt similarly when we started Brilliant Marketing. Doing all the things to prepare to become a leader or start your own business like taking classes, reading books, moving your way up in management, is all great and dandy, but until you’re pushed off the deep end you don’t really know what you are getting yourself into. So my advice is: do all the things you think you need to do to feel prepared, and then just figure it out as you go AKA fake it until you make it!
Tip #2: Fake it 'til you make it
We’ve all had that infamous thought, “What am I doing? Am I even qualified for this?” This thought is even more prevalent as a parent and a leader, but it must not stop you. Instead, you drum up the confidence and get out there anyways because that’s when the really special moments and big wins happen – in the unknown and the trying. By doing, you will learn what works best for you – your own style, techniques, tricks and hacks. That’s what makes your leadership, business and parenting so unique to YOU. There’s no right or wrong answer, just different ways to do things.
Tip #3: Ask for help
Ok, you’ve thrown yourself off the deep end; now what? Ask for some help! Figure out your needs, the areas are you struggling with, and what makes you feel sane. Asking for help, guidance, mentorship, or a shoulder to cry on is really helpful. In my parenting journey, I figured out much quicker with my second son that making time for myself is key to our family’s happiness (and similarly for my husband to take time for himself). It doesn’t always happen, but when we make the time, we both feel so much more like ourselves. So be sure to figure out what you need and ask for help until you get it. That means surrounding yourself with supportive people both professionally and personally that can help you on your journey.
Tip #4: It takes a village
As an entrepreneur building a marketing agency, having mentors is important for me to get guidance when I have questions about the business – the best way to scale, how to structure the business, etc. I have a supportive community of mentors I can reach out to and call on when I have those questions. Just like in parenting, building a business and being a leader takes a village! Lean on those around you for support and guidance.
Tip #5: Listen to your gut
Remember all the things you did to prepare to be a parent or leader? Put all that info aside and turn inwards, listen to your gut. Did what you learned resonate with you? How does it feel? Being a parent and leader really makes you tap into your gut instincts and become intuitive. When my son was born, my intuition skyrocketed. I was so in tune with his needs, I would know them before he did. I would wake in the middle of the night and think, “I bet he’s getting hungry” and sure enough, 5 minutes later he would wake up and need to feed. Or he would pop into my mind right before he would wake up from his nap and I would say “I bet he’s almost up now.” Humans, and especially moms, have an intuitive superpower. It doesn’t need to be used just for parenting, it can be used in leadership and entrepreneurship too. Tap into that!
Tip #6: Use your intuitive superpower
How I use my intuitive superpower in my business is I pay attention to how I feel when I’m meeting new prospective clients, looking at creative, hiring contractors, or making business decisions. I notice my immediate first impression, what feeling is evoked, if I feel a sense of calm and relaxation, or a tightening in my chest or shortness of breath. If I put logic aside, I know the answer and my body knows the answer deep down inside, usually within the first few moments. The more you go with your intuition the stronger it becomes because you build trust with yourself. So the next time you have a decision to make, notice how your body feels and reacts.
Whether you are a parent or not, these lessons can be used by anyone. If you are a working parent, more power to you! It is a difficult journey that has many ups and downs. There is no secret sauce, magic bullet, or way to “do it right.” You're doing it; that’s all that matters. And always remember that you are gaining all kinds of new skills and intuition by being a parent, which you can use in your leadership and entrepreneurial journey.
If you’re ready to ask for help and looking for a marketing partner that can not only help grow your organization but also understands the challenges of being a working parent, set up a call with me personally.