I have had a little over a week to think about why leaning in is important to me, in order to write this post about it, and I’m battling. Not with the leaning in, but with condensing the myriad benefits into one measly blog post.
It would be a cop-out to give you a bulleted list, so I am going to focus on the three ways in which working in a supportive environment helps people to realise their potential:
Potential realiser 1 – Working as part of a team provides you with the ability to specialise.
Anyone who has run their own sole trader business will know that as a ‘one man band’ you have to be all things in the business. You are the staff, the manager, the marketing department, the accounts department, research and development, perhaps also the delivery boy… It’s tough to fulfill all of those roles, especially since the reason you started the business you did, is probably because you enjoyed something about the actual industry – not all the admin that goes with it.
Surrounding yourself with a carefully picked team allows you to focus on the aspect you are great at, while somebody else does the other bits. You can specialise. Becoming a specialist at what you do gives you greater authority in your industry, which will lead to higher turnover, as well as a better sense of achievement. Not to mention a great deal more sleep.
Potential realiser 2 – You can have a bad day without the whole operation disintegrating.
One of the other things that happens when you are all things to your business, is that you can’t take days off without some serious planning! So whatever you do, don’t get sick! Working for yourself, by yourself, doesn’t leave much room for those days when things do, inevitably, go wrong.
We all have bad days, and I used to think that one of the great things about being a freelancer was that, if I had a bad day I could indulge my sorrows, and no one would be around to make me feel worse about it. On those days I battled to get the work done, of course, which always made for more pressure once I was back in the best of health. It turns out that, though having a supportive team doesn’t mean you don’t have bad days, it does mean that you can share the load. For me, the creative resonance I get from a brainstorming session – especially with the inspiring group of ladies I work with – is enough to bring me out of any bad day.
Potential realiser 3 – You have a mirror in which to reflect your true potential.
I’ve worked with my business partner, the illustrious designer, on and off for the last seven years. Throughout those many moons, the times when I’ve had the most self-belief, and in which I have achieved the most as a writer, have been the times when we’ve worked together. This became so obvious to us both of late – it seems to work the same both ways – that we decided that freelancing on a few jobs together was depriving us both of reaching the potential we both knew we had. Working in a partnership has enabled us to achieve much greater things in a significantly reduced time frame.
Having a business relationship based on trust and similar interests has enabled me to realise my potential as a writer. That doesn’t mean that I know everything I need to. Rather, it means that I have someone to bounce ideas off, someone who supports my thirst for knowledge – by mirroring it with her own – and… someone who tells me I’m writing badly whenever I do. (It’s a really good thing I am not too emotionally attached to my work).
While it is possible to ‘fly solo’ in business, and many people have made a huge success of it, having a support group is a vital contributor to the potential you are able to reach. You might find that support group, as I have done, in great collaborative partnerships in business. You might find them, as I have also done (I’m lucky like that), in your friends and family. Wherever your support comes from, lean in to it, and you will realise how much potential you really have, and you will help those around you to reach theirs as well.